5 Tips to Stay Cool on Really Hot Workdays

how to stay cool on hot workdaysDid you hear that the highest temperature in the world last week was an incredible 129°F ? Even if you’re not dealing with crazy record-breaking temperatures like that, you’ve likely been dealing with a hellish commute if you walk, bike, or take public transportation to work. Aside from reveling in the frigid air conditioning once you get to your office, here are a few tips to stay cool on really hot workdays:

1. Use your drink for something other than drinking. Bring a cold can of soda (put it in the freezer for a while) or a frozen bottle of water and roll it on your wrists and other pulse points (here’s a picture pointing them out) when you want to stay cool. Once you’re at work, stop by the restroom to run cold water over your wrists.

2. Hack your commute. If you take public transportation, try to improve the most melty, disgusting portion of your commute. In most of NYC that’s the wait on the subway platform — not the subway ride itself. This may mean making yourself an iced coffee or a frozen bottle of water to take into the subway with you instead of grabbing one at your usual spot near the office; it may mean avoiding the subway entirely and taking the bus. If you can time it right (either with the help of an app or some of the newer MTA stops that tell you how far away your train is) you can wait to descend the subway until a minute or two before your train. (Try MoovitNextStop, or Transit App.) Wear as little makeup as possible so that you don’t smudge it when you’re wiping the sweat off your face, and if you have to/want to wear pantyhose in the summer, pop them in the freezer first, or just put them on at your office.

3. Pack a fan in your bag. It’s funny how a little breeze can make a big difference and help you stay cool when it’s hot, humid, and gross — so get a little battery-operated fan or a paper/wooden folding one (you know, the kind you can get in Chinatown). This one looks like a good bet, while this wearable one is intriguing… This model even has a misting feature — nice! (If the A/C at your office just can’t keep up, you can buy a small one like this for the top of your desk, too.)

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Dressing Professionally for Summer

white blazer for summer

2016 Update: Check out our latest discussion on staying cool on a hot day.

I was chatting with blogger RoadWarriorette the other day about dressing for summer — it can be a challenge when you’re trying to look professional! So I thought we should have an open thread with people’s best tips for dressing for summer. My personal tips:

– Layer, layer, layer. This helps with commutes in hot weather, and if you do it intelligently you can add and remove layers as needed throughout the day.  For example, I frequently will wear just a cotton t-shirt and my pants or a skirt to work, as well as sandals or flip flops.  Once at work, I’ll give myself time to “air out” if I need it, and then pop on my blazer and a good pair of pumps.  I keep a lot of blazers and pumps at the office so I don’t have to lug them around the city with me — for example, my current office has a basic black blazer, a white one, a beige one, a black/gray/silver leopard-print one and then about several pairs of pumps (basic black, really high black ones, purple pumps, brown pumps, a low pair of silverish/gray pumps, a nude-for-me pair of pumps, a red pair of really high heels) as well as a bunch of flats that I keep at the office (a black patent leather pair, a red patent leather pair, a brown lizard pair, a light pink pair, and a royal blue pair).  Similarly, a lightweight scarf (such as one made out of linen or silk) can be a great addition — it’ll provide warmth if you’re freezing, and not that much bulk if you need to take it off and tie it around your work bag.

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Reader Mail: How to Look Professional and Cover My Bug Bitten Legs?

Today’s reader mail comes to us from a reader with an interesting dilemma:

I just scored 3 awesome interviews with publishing companies in the South.  I know I need to dress conservatively, but it’s so HOT down here in the South that I’m not sure what to wear. I don’t want to look like a freak all dressed in a suit when it’s 98F with 100% humidity. What would you suggest?  Also, I currently work at a summer camp, so my legs are covered with mosquito and chigger bites! I’m way more comfortable in a skirt than I am in pants, but should I wear pants just to cover up the bug bites? Would really appreciate any suggestions and advice!
This is an excellent question, and one we don’t necessarily know the answer to.  Unless your interviews are taking place outdoors, we would dress for air conditioning — which is to say, wear a regular skirt suit.  Layer, layer, layer in order to deal with the heat — if you’re taking public transportation to get to the interview you may want to wear just the skirt and a tank top, and then add a button-down and the suit jacket on top of those.


Your bug-bitten legs are the most interesting question, for us, and we’re hoping the readers have some good advice for you. We would say that even though your legs are a bit marred, you should still wear a skirt suit:  the point isn’t that you’re displaying your “assets” as you would on a date, but rather that you’re wearing an outfit that, for whatever reason in today’s society, registers as the one that is the most conservative and professional thing to wear.  So theoretically it shouldn’t matter that your legs have bug bites all over them.  If you’re sensitive enough about them to cover them up, though, we recommend playing around with concealers.  For all-over coverage, Sally Hansen makes a spray-on concealer to help “tan” your legs and cover imperfections:  Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs Tan Glow, available at Drugstore.com for $10.95 (pictured at right).  For spot coverage, you may want to look into stage makeup like Ben Nye — it’s used a lot for covering tattoos, and won’t break the bank.  (If it’s just one or two really bad bug bites, you may be able to cover them with a band-aid, also.)
Photo credit:  Year Two, Day 337:  Hairy Legs and Bug Bites!, originally uploaded to Flickr by Brymo
Other reading:  Ask Metafilter
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