Emily Post: What Not To Wear


officeoutfitSummer is here…kids are out of school…people are on vacation…it’s a relaxed time of year. However, that doesn’t mean you should relax when it comes to how you present yourself at work.

The formality of office attire can often diminish as temperatures rise. Every workplace is different, and some are more relaxed than others, but appearances are always important—it’s how people will remember you—coworkers and clients.

Business relationships are built on proper etiquette and manners. Keeping a professional appearance is important to sustaining these relationships. Here are five guidelines to follow when considering appropriate office attire for the summer:

5 Guidelines for What Not to Wear to the Office in the Summer

If your company has a dress code, follow it. Not only will you show respect for your company and its culture, you’ll also be showing respect for your co-workers. It’s when the dress code is vague or incomplete that difficulties can arise. This summer, be careful of the following:


While some workplaces might be shorts-appropriate, in the majority of offices nothing says “I don’t take my job seriously” more than wearing shorts. Most offices are kept extra-cool in the summer months, making shorts a poor option anyway.


Wearing sandals can be hit or miss. If sandals are allowed in your office, they must look appropriate for business. Bare feet can be off-putting, and both men and women should be sure that their feet and toes are clean and the toenails are groomed when wearing sandals. Flip-flops are rarely acceptable and the sound they make can also be distracting. Unless it’s clearly appropriate, flip-flops should be avoided. Also, men should be sure to not go sockless when wearing loafers.

Fabrics and cuts

Women should avoid short skirts, bare midriffs, and anything made with sheer fabric. Fortunately, unless your office specifically calls for them, pantyhose and stockings can be left in your drawer. Linen suits may be acceptable in less formal offices, but their susceptibility to wrinkles can leave the wearer looking rumpled before lunch. Men should also keep casually professional with polo shirts instead of T-shirts.

Tank sleeves

Tank tops are still up for debate in many offices, so be sure to use caution there—the thicker the straps, the better. The fabric and cut should say “professional” not “beach day.” Bra straps should never show, and strapless dresses and spaghetti-strap tops should also be avoided. Wide tank-sleeve dresses are the safest bet for going sleeveless in the office.


Summer sun means sunglasses. Just be sure to take them off and put them away when indoors. Sunglasses perched on top of the head look unsettled and too casual, like you’re about to dash back out the door.

Visit the Emily Post Institute website (www.emilypost.com) for more etiquette tips.

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