Corporate Cool in Summer Heat?

The average Austin temperature in August is 96 degrees, according to That’s the hottest month of the year, and September keeps the average at about 90 degrees!

While Austin has a reputation for the Slacker lifestyle, there are plenty of successful business-minded citizens who dread summer for one reason:  Corporate Attire. Trying to close a multi-million dollar deal while wearing shorts and flip flops is still a long way off in River City.  However, walking across the street for a bite at lunch is a recipe for an image melt-down.

Challenge:  How do you dress for the office when it’s 96 degrees in the shade?

Solution:  Keep these three words in mind while dressing each morning and you can up your cool factor in more ways than one:  Skin, Color, Dimension.

SKIN.  Showing up to the office with a glistening face makes both men and women self-conscious.  For the ladies, try Rae Cosmetics.  It’s a cosmetic line designed for withstanding the Austin heat and an active lifestyle.  I’ve used it since June and must give it glowing reviews.  Men, you have an inexpensive, portable solution: a handkerchief.  A quick but thorough swipe in the elevator or men’s room can leave you feeling fresh.  Minty bath and body products will keep the rest of your person feeling fresh (put a dab of lotion on your wrists and back of your knees to help stay cool throughout the day).

COLORS.  Mythbusters settled a long-standing debate between my husband and me.  They proved that a black car’s interior heats up 10 degrees hotter than a white car when both are parked in the sun.  Imagine what your black or navy suit is doing to your body! Stick with khakis, camels and other light neutrals until things cool off a bit. If you MUST wear a dark power suit, keep the jacket off until you’re in the office and only buy suits with light-weight fabrics that breathe like wool or cotton (linen works but wrinkles). Couple your suit (or blazer/skirt/slacks) with a complementary shirt color from your unique color palette.

DIMENSION.  Layering is the number one way to have a “finished” and sophisticated look.  Rather than piling on more clothing to achieve that effect, try some of these work-arounds:

* Ties or light-weight scarves. Remove the scarf when you go in the heat and tie it to your handbag for extra flair.

* Both men and women can use belts to their advantage.  Women, keep it on the tame side, but feel free to use some color or a pattern.

* Prints are wonderful things. Whether as shirts or skirts, they liven up an outfit and can hide sweat stains.

* Ladies, ruched or ruffled blouses add a great dimension without the added clothing.  A ruffled v-neck collar can create a sophisticated focal point and ruched waists and warms camouflage ripples.  Multi-strand jewelry also works wonders and brings an outfit together. gave some more great advice for you to read at your leisure. Lastly, always consult your HR director if you have any question about dress codes.

That’s it for this week’s challenge. Please let readers know if you have other summer work attire tips and what’s worked for you!!

Building Confidence Inside & Out,

Thea Wood, Austin’s Personal Stylist
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