By Jamé Jackson
Yes, it’s hot out, but that still doesn’t give you the right to wear whatever you want into the office. Especially when you’re first starting out in media, you want to be careful about how you present yourself to others. Read on for five common summer fashion mistakes—and advice on what you should wear instead.
Mistake #1: Revealing too much
If you’d wear an outfit on a Friday night out with the girls, leave it in your closet during the week. “Sometimes I’ll see younger girls in the office and their skirts are way too short and their shirts are half-cut open,” says Patrice Doma, editorial director and head of diversity for a large brand. “It’s uncomfortable because you don’t want to say something and offend them, but at the same time, people talk and you don’t want those girls to be labeled.”
But we get it, covering up entirely can be so uncomfortable in the hot weather. So how do you strike a safe balance? “I tell my mentees to do the ‘executive test,’” Doma says. “When you take a look in the mirror, ask yourself, ‘If a high-ranking executive or my mentor came by my office, would I mind if they saw me like this?’ If the answer is yes, then go ahead. If it’s no or you have to think too much, then maybe you should re-evaluate.”
Mistake #2: Wearing cut-offs
In many offices, any type of women’s shorts are considered inappropriate, so you’re better off saving them for the weekend entirely. But if you’re in a liberal office that allows them, be careful about the styles you select. “Any variation of denim shorts that are above the knee will always be a huge no-no,” says Tash Amadi, fashion assistant at PR Consulting. She recommends linen or cotton variations instead. When you try them on, make sure they hit a reasonable length (mid-thigh to knee), and don’t forget to bend over to make sure you won’t accidentally moon someone!
Mistake #3: Choosing see-through clothes
True story: One day in the middle of August, I was running late for work and threw on whatever I could find. I was almost to the office before I looked down and realized that my short-sleeve shirt was see-through, revealing my navy blue bra. Whoops! If you find yourself in a situation like that, find a scarf, blazer, or cardigan as quick as you can. “I’ve always believed you should have at least one black blazer in your office,” says Doma. “Keep it on hand to help with a quick cover-up, an accidental spill after lunch, or wardrobe malfunctions. You never know when you’ll need it.”
Mistake #4: Opting for flip flops
These sandals are just a little too relaxed—and depending on where you work, any type of open-toed shoe might also be looked down upon, so do your research. No matter what, you want footwear that conveys how professional you are, rather than making you look like you’re headed to the beach. Doma suggests investing in some nice ballet flats, dressy sandals, or stylish mules that’ll make your outfits pop.
Mistake #5: Going without protection (hey, we gotta talk about it!)
This is an uncomfortable conversation for many, but it’s necessary: you always need to wear a bra to the office. While the carefree feeling of not wearing anything restraining may be your way of life on the weekends, this is not the time to be YOLO. (Plus, there is hopefully AC in your building and that can get tremendously awkward.) Find a lightweight bra that’ll keep you covered, and bring wipes to help out with sweat and deodorant residue. Then when you get home, you can rip that bad boy off!
Jamé Jackson is a motivational speaker and founder of TheBlondeMisfit.com, a website geared toward women in the style, beauty, and entertainment industries. Based in New York City, she can also be seen spreading love, female empowerment, and her must-have beauty obsessions through her Instagram.