With temperatures rising to record highs out there, hemlines, pants-lengths, and sleeves are rolling right up with the mercury. Meanwhile, comfort levels are taking a nosedive. People who have been covering up their jiggly bits all winter are suddenly putting them on display, and you might even be tempted to wear something brief yourself, just because it's too darn hot.
New York-based image consultant Marla Tomazin says that you don't have to sacrifice your carefully crafted professional image to keep your cool and be comfortable. "I have found that a lot of women think that summer style is synonymous with showing skin, and that doesn't have to be the case," explains Tomazin, who has been an image consultant for 20 years, following a successful career in the fashion industry.
"There are plenty of ways that you can embrace summer style without feeling exposed -- in fact, there are a lot of temperature-friendly looks that can accentuate your best features, while minimizing the areas you are uncomfortable with."
Tomazin suggests the following tips for keeping your professional image intact without losing your cool.
1. Shrug off the heat
You don't have to go sleeveless to stay cool in the summer -- which is welcome news for most women who consider their arms a big problem area. You can wear a sheer lace shrug or light knit bolero for great coverage without too much heat. They're also great for keeping you comfortable on cool summer nights.
2. Call upon the column
If you're hoping to stay covered up without burning up, consider color. While it's a known fact that an all-black ensemble is slimming and classic, an all-white look can have the same effect -- without attracting the heat. Wearing a white "column" is a great way to stay cool while keeping yourself covered on warm days. For instance, pair a white T-shirt or tank top with white pants, shorts, or a skirt. Or, if you want to keep your arms covered, consider pairing a sheer blouse (in lieu of a jacket) on top. If you need to wear a jacket, choose a light and breathable fabric, like cotton or linen, and pair it with a cool tank.
3. The art of illusion
If you want to hide your hips and thighs but don't want to sweat out the summer months in long pants, wear an A-line skirt with a top that tucks in or can be belted. This will draw the eye up and accentuate a smaller waist. If you have a larger waist, don't tuck anything in, but choose a skirt or pant that is slim through the thigh and pair it with a light, loose, breezy top.
4. Skirt the shorts issue
Even though you're seeing a lot of suits with shorts for women this season, unless you have the perfect figure, it's really difficult to look professional in them. Stick with a skirt of an appropriate length, and ditch the pantyhose, if your workplace allows it. You can also consider tailored crop pants, even in a conservative office.
5. Expose your toes
In most workplaces, sandals are perfectly acceptable, but you must wear them with care. Make sure you're not squeezing your feet into them, and absolutely no flip-flops, or anything that makes a flapping sound when you walk. Also, mind those nails -- make sure your pedicure is up to date. And consider the added benefits of a modest heel or wedge shoe to give your legs a more elongated (and slimming) look.
"When you dress for hot weather, consider how an outfit makes you feel," concludes Tomazin. "If you feel comfortable, it will reflect in your attitude and how you carry yourself. And if you feel exposed or uncomfortable, then it's a good indicator that what you're wearing may not be right for you. Trust your own instincts and the intuition of your inner-stylist and you'll stay cool and confident all summer long."