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Fashion experts weigh in: Here's what you should wear to work this summer

It can be hard to know how to dress for work in the summer heat. Here are some tips from a style expert.
It can be hard to know how to dress for work in the summer heat. Here are some tips from a style expert.   -   Copyright  dimaberlinphotos
By Charlotte Elton

We’ve all been there. Staring forlornly into the back of a wardrobe, clothes strewn all over the floor, clock ticking closer to 9am.

After two years of zoom dress code (i.e. pyjamas), many of us have forgotten how to dress stylishly - and appropriately - for work.

As the mercury rises, this fraught task becomes even more difficult. Should you risk heatstroke by donning wintry business attire? Is everyone judging your shorts? Are Birkenstocks a fireable offence?

It’s enough to make your head spin before you've even logged in to your emails.

But fear not - help is at hand. Fashion coach Lucia Restani and stylist Jessica Daolio are here to share their expert tips for dressing in the hot weather.

How to dress for work when the temperature rises

Born and raised in balmy Italy, Restani and Daolio are no strangers to the heat. 

Daolio - who has worked on fashion campaigns at Vogue Italy and Dazed&Confused - is currently an editor at SoccerBible and Collectible Dry magazine.

Restani's a fashion expert too. After moving to London in 2004, she worked as the lead buyer and visual merchandiser for a consultancy boutique in Mayfair. And since going independent in 2011, the passionate stylist has dedicated her career to ensuring her clients feel comfortable and confident, whatever the weather.

“People in colder places like the UK can struggle to dress for summer. I think it's just because very often you don't have enough summer to experiment!” she says.

“But there are ways of dealing with the heat and still feeling good in what you wear.”

Here are their five top tips for keeping cool - and staying stylish - as the mercury rises.

1. Choose natural fabrics

Natural fibres like cotton, linen, and silk are lightweight, airy options that help the body to regulate temperature. While scratchy synthetics like polyester, acrylics, and nylons trap body heat - a recipe for unseemly sweat patches.

"I’d say the choice of light and fresh, natural fabrics is the key to making sure you’ll be generally fine during the summer," Daolio says. 

Restani agrees. “The number one rule is be attentive to fabrics. I am Italian, and for us, wearing linen is one of the best ways to keep cool. People here (in the UK) are very scared of linen."

“Natural fabrics, they allow the skin to breathe.”

Surprisingly, certain types of lightweight wool can be a good summer choice, too. Wool wicks sweat from the body, and releases the moisture through the fibres of the fabric.

2. Don’t wear anything too tight - but do accessorise

To stay cool in summer, it's best to ditch the body con and opt for loose clothing instead. But loose doesn’t have to mean shapeless, Restani insists. You just need to choose the right accessories.

“Whatever you want to do, you can do by accessorising,” she says.

“For example, if you’re wearing a dress, you can always add on a belt if your waist is your best feature,” she says.

“Or maybe add on a long necklace, if you want to be elongated - there are a lot of options.”

Lucia Restani / supplied
Lucia Restani has shared her tips for a stress-free summer of styleLucia Restani / supplied

3. Wear light-coloured clothes

Dark colours are a poor choice in the hotter months, as they absorb more heat than lighter alternatives.

“In the Mediterranean we wear a lot of white for example, and a lot of beige,” Restani says.

Just be careful not to overdo it - too much white linen and you’ll look like an usher at a beach wedding.

4. Holiday gear and work wear: know the difference

Pakhnyushchyy / canva
Certain sandals are great for holidaying - but not so great for the officePakhnyushchyy / canva

Holiday fashion is easy - wear whatever you want, and pair it with an ice cream.

But what works on the beach, doesn't always work in the office, and toeing the line can be stressful.

"Flip flops and anything related to a holiday or beach situation should be banned for any city/office look," Daolio warns.

People can avoid this fashion faux pas with simple changes. Looking smart is about combining the right elements - and choosing good quality clothes over cheaply made fast fashion, Restani insists.

“If you wear espadrilles, it can look like you are walking down Saint Tropez," she says.

"But if you wear a beautiful leather sandal or sling-back, that gives you more of an urban look.”

5. Always carry an extra layer - and add a scarf

Going to work in summer is a temperature rollercoaster. One minute, you’re sweltering on a packed train. The next, you’re freezing in an air-conditioned ice-box.

Hide the aircon remote from your colleagues and you might end up in HR. Dodge the recriminations by layering up. 

"As the weather in the UK is very unpredictable, it is always a good idea to carry an overcoat with you," says Daolio.

"My favourite overcoats are oversize denim vintage jackets, as well as tailored blazers and classic light trenches."

Restani’s suggestion? Scarves.

“A lot of my British clients don’t know how to wear scarves. But they can be a very useful tool and a very beautiful accessory,” the stylist says.

“Outside, they protect your neck from the sun, you can throw one on your shoulder. Inside, they are good for layering.”