According to a recent Opinion Research Corporation survey, 74% of Americans believe that more casual wear in the workplace during the summer is appropriate. The conundrum is that what you consider appropriate may not be what your boss or clients consider professional. Here are a handful of tricks that can keep you cool while still being professional.

1. Flip-flops are for the beach or backyard not the workplace. Seventy-one percent of Americans surveyed in the Opinion Research Corporation poll believe flip-flops are not work appropriate. We agree. Why? They distract your co-workers when you go flapping by; they project an unprofessional image; and they aren’t considered safe or appropriate footwear in many businesses. Consider peep-toe shoes instead.

2. Say yes to breathable fabrics and loose fitting dresses. Less-structured and lighter-weight summer dresses and shifts naturally lend themselves to informality and comfort. However, keep the moo-moos and maxi dresses for summer parties.

3. Invest in partially lined or unlined lightweight jackets in neutral colors. Keep a jacket or two in your office for meetings and other occasions where you need to present a more professional image.

4. No tube tops or spaghetti straps. Ever. Fashion magazines recommend “fun” or day-to-night looks for the workplace, like pairing a strapless dress with a lightweight cardigan. This is dangerous. When you heat up from running around doing in-office errands or the AC goes out, you won’t be able to take off the cardigan or, worse, you will take it off. Sleeveless dresses or blouses are fine, but bared shoulders are way too casual and revealing for the workplace.

5. Lighten up. You can look cool even if you don’t feel cool. Invest in a light-toned clothing and accessories, such as a purse or brief case in beige, white, cream, and put away your big black satchel. Judiciously wear bright colors. A pop of watermelon, lime or lemon looks as refreshing as the fruits actually taste.

For information on Emily Post Business Etiquette Programs contact Steven Puettner, Director of Sales, at or 802-860-1814.