How to Stay Cool and Look Chic during the Hottest Months of Summer

Ah, summer...a time for BBQs. Pretty (and short) sundresses. Flip flops and regular pedicure maintenance. Getaways to the lake or the beach, whichever floats your boat.

It’s also a time for oily skin, stanky pits, and bad hair days brought to you by high temps and extreme humidity. For you working babes, these conditions can make dressing for the job you want a daily nightmare. What in the world do I wear if I want to look the part of a real #BossBabe? Fear not, ladies, because Babes is here with the ultimate guide for how to look office chic while staying cool as the cutest cucumber ever. Plus, we’ve got tips covering the entire gamut of industries and office environments.

Step 1: Start with cooler underthings.

It may sound mundane, but undergarments that are bulky in materials that don’t breathe can spell disaster. Skip that heavily padded, underwire bra and those fussy undies. Opt instead for lightly padded bralettes and panties in cotton. Bonus: Pretty prints and minimalist details look sweet peeking out from under a summer tank—after work hours, of course!

Options we love...

Babes on a Budget: Body by Gap makes cute, unfussy underthings. Try Calvin Klein or even Pink by Victoria’s Secret. We personally love Aerie. 

Just got a raise and looking to splurge? Spell and the Gypsy Collective has soft, bohemian sets. Xirena makes fashion-forward sets in unique prints.

Step 2: Choose lighter fabrics.

Cotton, linen, and light silks are your friends this summer, and there are lots of great options for babes in all careers (even you stay-at-home moms!). If your work place is fairly casual, try a loose-fitting dress, a cotton tee with a belted skirt, or some cotton capris and a flowy blouse. Stay-at-home mom and coffee-loving babe, Ashley Houston, stresses the importance of comfort: “I love a great look just as much as the next girl, but as a mom, I also like to keep my outfits uncomplicated and comfortable. Especially in the summer! But comfortable doesn’t have to mean leggings and t shirts... I like to find some flowy sundresses and pair them with bralettes or some good stretch denim shorts and neutral tops that I can wear layered year round.” 

 Ashley Houston @ashleyjoyhouston

Ashley Houston @ashleyjoyhouston

Options we love...

Babes on a Budget: The Loft, Express, Banana Republic, Lulus

Just got that raise: Free People, Paige Denim, Splendid

For those more creative, fashion-forward careers (think industries like music, film, fashion, and beauty), it can be a challenge to look tres chic when the summer heat wave hits, but the trick is to juxtapose textures and styles: pair a soft, vintage cotton tee with a body conscious pencil skirt in a breathable fabric or even a pair of lightweight, utterly-on-trend harem pants (we love our own Take Coffee with You tee in trendy military green pictured here).

A midi dress in cotton or linen transitions easily from office chic to hot summer nights, and we've seen a lot of belted linen versions on the streets of NYC. Or you can even pair a flowy blouse and skirt like blogger babe Kat Tanita in her elegant, demure look. "My summer office style varies day to day depending on what I have going on (I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home!)  But for a normal day of meetings and lunches out and about in Los Angeles... I love wearing a loose blouse and silk midi skirt,” says Kat. “Both are super breathable, feminine, professional, but still comfortable.  If I do a long sleeve blouse I love wearing one with cut outs or that's off the shoulder and then of course I wear open toed sandals.  I save my pumps for the fall!"

 Kat Tanita @kattanita

Kat Tanita @kattanita

Don’t forget that the real key to fashionable work looks is accessories (see Step 3), and remember to throw a denim jacket or pretty kimono into your bag in case the office AC is blasting.

 Natania Reed @natanialee

Natania Reed @natanialee

Babe Natania Reed knows the challenge with indoor-outdoor transitions: “Summer is a tricky season for workwear – it may be hitting 100 outside, but that office AC keeps on cranking at full blast. I am lucky my office is fairly casual, but I try to stick with light layers, lots of linens and cotton fabrics, and fun sandals or mules to brighten things up."

Options we love...

Babes on a Budget: JCrew for denim jackets and other staples, Express for harem pants, Zara for trendy work separates, Babes with Coffee for soft tees, Poshmark for unique finds, Leith for nice midi dresses, and Lulu’s for flowy skirts and blouses.

Just got that raise: Bailey 44 for work separates, Michael Stars and Reformation for midi dresses, Anthropologie for flowy skirts and blouses, Velvet by Graham and Spencer or Joie for denim jackets and harem pants, and Splendid for soft tees.

Corporate America can be the worst on those hot, humid days, but this is where those silks and linens come into play. Invest in a two-piece linen suit (a skirt suit or pantsuit depending on what you reach for more). On days when you have meetings, layer the suit over a silk cami or tank. No meetings? Throw that linen blazer over a silk cami dress or dressier jumper or even silk harem pants paired with an elegant tank. Mix and match the linen skirt or pants in a similar fashion: pair with a lightweight silk blazer or a poplin shirt.

Options we love...

Babes on a Budget: Macy’s, Asos, Express, JCrew

Just got that raise: Bailey 44, Joie, Nordstrom’s, Rebecca Taylor, Vince

Step 3: Finish it off with attention to detail.

Shoes, bags, and accessories can make or break your summer look. A statement watch or bracelet and delicate necklace or earrings are clean and crisp enough for a corporate environment. The Babes-exclusive Brewtiful necklace is unique and looks elegant against a silk top—it’s a real coffee bean coated in precious metal!

If you work in a creative atmosphere, try bold, statement pieces like ear climbers, tassels, and tribal necklaces. Finish off your look with a belt and a summer-friendly tote in canvas or raffia to keep the whole look lighter.

 Anne Merrill @annemerrilll

Anne Merrill @annemerrilll

For those of you who have casual, creative jobs, you can have a little more fun when dressing for summer. "As a blogger and content creator, my wardrobe is constantly changing and evolving. You've got a good chance of catching me in an oversized jumpsuit with a vintage t-shirt layered beneath it in the summer with a pair of ankle boots if I'm feeling really fancy that day!" says Anne. "These are my favorite types of outfits for the summer because they're not miserably hot, but there's also a handful of accessories (like my beloved Gucci belt & collection of turquoise) that i can keep in my car to go from a shoot, to a meeting, and then out to dinner with friends."

You can even throw on a hat for an extra dose of style like Nana Arasah.

 Nana Arasah @n.arasah

Nana Arasah @n.arasah

Flip flops are never work appropriate. Pick block or strappy heels that leave your toes free to breathe, or go with a stylish sandal or espadrille if your office is more casual. Don’t forget that pedicure. If closed toed shoes are a must, try a slip on sneaker or a heel in a breathable material.

See babes? Summer style can be as smooth and easy as a tall glass of cold brew.