Turn Up the Heat: Summer Workwear Edit

Emma Read

Fashion Stylist

Floaty mini-dresses, denim cut-offs, Havaianas – definitely all essential pieces to compile within a summer wardrobe, but not exactly what you’re reaching for within your 9 to 5. So what’s a girl to do on a sweltering daily commute to the office? Before you contemplate throwing a blazer over that strapless top, take note of our desk-friendly tips to make the seasonal switch successfully.

1. Find fabrics that breathe 

The first step in keeping that body temp down is going lighter on the fabric front. Trade in any polyesters or heavy silks and wools with cottons, linens, lighter georgettes and soft jerseys that provide a bit of air flow (and don’t have you running to the nearest air conditioner post-meeting).


Country Road linen jacket, $299 countryroad.com.au, David Lawrence linen pants, $200, davidlawrence.com.au, Burberry Prorsum silk-georgette blouse, $1,050, au.burberry.com

2. Embrace the dress

The humble shirt-dress is a lifesaver for anyone adhering to a corporate dress code – just be sure to keep the length modest so as not to cause a stir. Neutrals, light pinstripes and pastels are the perfect transition from a heavy winter colour palette – accessorise with a classic pump and narrow waist belt for an added injection of polish.


Country Road pinstripe shirtdress, $149, countryroad.com.au, Trenery shirtdress, $299 trenery.com.au, Witchery sleeveless shirtdress, $99.95 witchery.com.au

3. Re-think the suit

If your office dress code is a little more free and easy, why not try a short suit? A longer length Bermuda-style or cuffed short is perfectly chic when paired back with a button up or silk blouse – anything inching close to mid-thigh is edging close to weekend territory, so be sure to keep an eye on hemlines. Add a masculine spin with a brogue or lighten up the tomboy with a ballet flat. If you’re finding a blazer stifling, switch it up to a long line vest instead – all the slick sophistication without the heat.


Witchery pleat front short, $69.95 witchery.com.au, H&M long waistcoat, $39.95 hm.com/au, Seed buttoned waistcoat, $149.95, seedheritage.com

4. Skirts 101

Pencil and A-line skirts double team as summer work wardrobe heroes in the versatility stakes. Building up a skirt ‘capsule’ is a great idea for the girl on the go – a range of neutrals, block colours and prints make an easy initial touch point for any office-friendly outfit. Pair it back with a light silk shirt or blouse and you’re out the door in less than 5. Tick!


Joseph matte-silk pencil skirt, $409.15 net-a-porter.com, Seed crepe knit midi skirt, $99.95 seedheritage.com

5. Drop the sleeve

Going sans sleeve doesn’t equal uber casual – investing in a handful of sleeveless tops and tanks in quality fabrics or eye-catching prints will buy you a lot more composure on a particularly warm day without losing any professional points. Make sure your separates are on the dressier side (think a statement skirt or tucked into a razor-sharp tailored pant) to keep it elevated.


Marc by Marc Jacobs ruffled top, $408 stylebop.com, Chloe printed tank top, $845 parlourx.com.au

6. Tone it up

It goes without question summer is the season for lighter neutrals and colour, but don’t let your accessories fall by the wayside – tans, whites and nudes are staples against an all-round lighter palette. For the more adventurous types, add a splash of bold colour (think cobalts or reds) for an added punch against head-to-toe neutral attire.


Tony Bianco Ajana heels, $139.95 tonybianco.com.au, Stella McCartney Falabelle quilted bag, $1,332 matchesfashion.com, Witchery Natalia cross body bag, $99.95 witchery.com.au, Trenery Roller belt, $59.95 trenery.com.au

7. What happens at the beach stays at the beach

Don’t underestimate the power of a proper shoe to twist the breeziest of summer looks into something a little more business minded. Anything that you’d consider wearing on the sand needs to wait it out in your wardrobe until the weekend – try a strappy kitten heel or woven leathers for more air-flow in the shoe department.


Tibi snake-effect leather sandals, $461.02 net-a-porter.com, Valentino Rockstud kitten heels, $1,006 stylebop.com, Wittner Justice heels in nude, $169.95 wittner.com.au

8. Keep it professional

Obviously, it’s the season where hemlines creep up and fabrics become a little on the sheer side, but it’s always safer to err on the side of elegance than brashly peeling off layers. If you’re sporting a slightly shorter than usual shift dress, for example, pair it back with a flat rather than flashing leg in a heel. Road-test anything sheer with slips so there’s no exposed bra straps doing a drive-by past your boss.


Trenery petal printed dress, $27, trenery.com.au, Seed wrap polka-dot top, $149.95 seedheritage.com, Marcs lace layered shell top, $179 marcs.com.au 


Follow Emma… Website | Instagram @emmaread

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