Posted on: June 4, 2024 Posted by: Comments: 0

It can be a challenge to stay cool and look polished as the weather starts to heat up… so let’s discuss. What are you wearing to work this summer at the office if you’re in a business casual office? If you work in a more conservative office, what are you wearing this summer? What are your best tips for doing summer business casual for women?

General Tips on Staying Cool but Polished in the Summer in a Business Casual Office

Choose Lightweight, Breathable Fabrics

Natural fibers like cotton, silk, and linen are going to be much more comfortable in the summer than polyester or most synthetic fabrics. Particularly if you have to actually be outside for a work-related event, a light-colored linen blazer is going to be a million times more comfortable than a black polyester blazer.

(Also, pay attention to the laundry instructions. Those $20 pants start to look less appealing — and less of a deal — when they start to smell after two wears and they’re “dry clean only.”)

Choose the Right Undergarments

Readers have long sung the praises of Jockey Slip Shorts as a great layer to wear underneath skirts and dresses — and now they make cooling slip shorts, as does Thigh Society.

Uniqlo’s Airism line also has a bunch of innerwear, from slip shorts to bra tops to panties, and so does Tommy John’s Air line (bras and panties). You can also go for basic silk undergarments that will dry incredibly quickly, such as from Uwila Warrior or Amazon seller SilRiver — mesh is another quick-drying fabric, with options from Ex Officio to Fruit of the Loom.

You can also buy bra liners like Wick’em — you just tuck them under your bra for your commute or midday hot girl walk (literally), and then discreetly take the liner out once you’re back inside. The result is that the liner gets sweaty, not your bra.

Acknowledge Your Commute

If your morning commute leaves your makeup streaked across your face, and your hair limp or frizzy, plan in advance. Switch to waterproof makeup, or if you can, put on your makeup at the office. (We haven’t had a good discussion about summer makeup in a while — do you have any latest favorites, readers?) Do your hair in an updo or pulled-back style when you leave the house.

Know The Tricks to Cool Down Quickly

You can frequently pick up a small noisy fan at the local office supply store for as little as $15. While they’re not ideal to keep a regular, quiet breeze going in your office, they are great for when you need to blast yourself with some cool air upon your arrival.

Similarly, I like to take something cold (a can of soda, a bottle of water) and put it against the inside of my wrists. I forget the exact reason (pressure point, I think) but it really does help cool you down more quickly than, say, putting the can of soda to your forehead. Apparently your left wrist is better!

These are some interesting products to help you cool down or stay cool on your commute… see more clever products like this in our Amazon shop!

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Can I Wear Cooling Athleisure to My Business Casual Office in the Summer?

This depends heavily on your office — if you’re starting a new job, presume that the answer is NO until you see a mid-level person wear the types of pieces you’re considering.

That said, some athleisure pants definitely cross the line and are acceptable for work!

Know your office, of course, but in 2024 some of the reader favorites for lightweight athleisure pants include Athleta’s Brooklyn pants, Adidas Golf pants, and these Lululemon pants.

I’ve also seen readers sing the praises of Spanx’s Air Essentials line of pants, dresses, and more — a lot of those could work for the office.

Our Favorite Lightweight Clothes for Business Casual Summer Work Outfits

Wondering what women CAN wear to work in the summer to a business casual office? Here are some of our latest favorites. You may also want to check out our roundup of the easiest office updos!

Summer Work Pants

Some of our favorite summer work pants for women as of 2024 include options from Nic + Zoe, M.M.LaFleur, Ministry of Supply, Uniqlo — and Banana Republic Factory sometimes has pants in their AirStretch line, also!

M.M.LaFleur (exact)

Nic & Zoe


Banana Republic Factory

Opaque White T-Shirts

Hunting for opaque white T-shirts for work? As of 2024, we’d suggest checking the double-layer lines from Boden, Express, Old Navy, and Hobbs, as well as great sources for basic Pima cotton such as L.L.Bean, Uniqlo, Everlane, Banana Republic, and Talbots. (This $268 tee also gets great reviews for opacity, and Elizabeth swears by this tee under $30!)

As of 2024, the best spots to check for nude-for-you undergarments are Gap, Old Navy, or Nubian Skin for tons of options — Victoria’s Secret also has a bunch!

Lightweight Blazers

Hunting for lightweight blazers in linen and other fabrics? As of 2024, J.Crew’s Helena blazer in stretch linen is a bestseller, as is this super affordable Quince blazer and this Old Navy blazer (regular, tall, and petite up to 4X). Along related lines (all machine washable!), check out Uniqlo’s Airsense jacket (lightweight and stretchy), Madewell’s Drapeweave line (lightweight and drapey) and Brooks Brothers’ Soft Icons line (lightweight and drapey).





White Blazers

White blazers are another great summer work outfit basic because they make everything seem more sunny and fresh.

As of April 2024, some of our favorite stylish white blazers for work include options from J.Crew, J.Crew Factory, Ann Taylor, Liverpool, and Amazon (Cicy Bell, The Drop). If you’re looking to splurge, try Smythe or L’Agence.

J.Crew Factory

J.Crew (exact)


Cicy Bell

White Pants for Work

Some of our favorite white pants for work as of April 2024 include Nic + Zoe, Talbots, Spanx, Favorite Daughter, Everlane, Lafayette 148 New York, Vince, and Cinq à Sept! For budget-friendly options, try Old Navy or Tapata. If your office is OK with 5-pocket styles and/or denim, check out the highly rated Wit & Wisdom and NYDJ pants.

Nic + Zoe

Old Navy


Favorite Daughter

Cinq à Sept

Sneakers for Work Outfits

2024 Update: Some of our latest favorite sneakers for work outfits include the following — see the full post for all the details!

The Overall Best Work Sneakers

Cole Haan Grand Pro Topspin

The Best Fancy Work Sneakers (Mid-Range)

Tory Burch Ladybug

The Best Comfort Sneakers for the Office

Vionic Zinah

Fitted, Elegant T-Shirts

Fitted T-shirts can be great because they layer so well under blazers and sweaters, but in the summertime they’re also easy to wash and polished enough with the right accessories.

Looking for the best work-appropriate T-shirts? As of 2024, some of our favorite dressy T-shirts for work are from Amazon Essentials, Theory, Everlane, J.Crew, Banana Republic, Nic + Zoe, and Vince — also check our posts on opaque white tees and the best plus-size tees for work!

Amazon Essentials




Our Latest Favorite Sunscreens

Don’t forget sun protection (especially face, hands, and chest)! Sunscreens readers have loved over the years are pictured above: Elta MD, Supergoop!, and this $17 sunscreen (Kat’s favorite). Sephora’s 2024 Sun Safety Kit is also out and a huge hit with readers. If you’re hunting for cute rash guards, check out J.Crew, Boden, Coolibar, and Athleta.




Lightweight Sweaters for Summer

Of course, once you get inside where the A/C is blasting, you may need a sweater. You still want it to be a lightweight one so you’re not lugging around a thick wool thing on your summer commute, but also so it matches your summer business casual work outfit.

Our latest favorite lightweight sweaters for work include this Nic & Zoe cardigan and this M.M.LaFleur jardigan. We’ve also rounded up 100% cotton sweaters, as well as the classic summer sweater, the twinset.

100% silk sweaters are incredibly hard to find at the moment, but Nordstrom has a very limited collection, and J.Crew has a short-sleeve silk sweater.

Some of our favorite silk-cashmere sweaters for work include these from LaLigne and Brooks Brothers; if you’re looking to splurge, Akris has a bunch right now.

As of 2024, you can find cotton-cashmere sweaters at Quince, L.L.Bean, and Reformation. You can also sometimes find them from brands like Nordstrom Signature.

Another lightweight but lux option: cashmere-linen sweaters, such as this option from Vineyard Vines.

Hunting for cotton-merino blends? Everlane has a bunch as of Feb. 2024.

You don’t always want or need a sweater for summer, but these can be great both for navigating the cold air conditioning inside, as well as adding a third piece if you want to look more polished or more covered up…

Conservative Business Attire in the Summer for Women

Of course, if you’re in a more conservative office, you may want to consider all of the above, plus some of these options…

Dresses with Pockets

As of 2024, some of the best work dresses with pockets include M.M.LaFleur, J.Crew, Lands’ End, Elie Tahari, and Boden… Some of our latest favorites are below! If you’re on a budget, Quince has a great basic, this business casual Amazon dress has pockets, and Amazon seller VFShow has a number of dresses with pockets! Both Amazon and Etsy make it pretty easy to find dresses with pockets, as well.


Lands’ End (exact)

Elie Tahari


The Best Lightweight Suits for Women

If you’re hunting for lightweight suiting, Brooks Brothers also occasionally has suiting in their BrooksCool line, and Uniqlo occasionally has Airism suiting. You may also want to check out our roundup of washable suits for women!

You wouldn’t think that wool would be lightweight, but seasonless wool can be great year round…

As of 2024, some of our favorite seasonless wool suiting includes Ann Taylor on the affordable side, and Theory, Brooks Brothers, M.M.LaFleur and Argent on the more expensive side. Talbots’ line of seasonless wool suiting includes regular, petite, plus, plus-size petite, and tall sizes. See our roundup of the best women’s suits of 2024 here!

Travel-Friendly Suits for Women: Wrinkle-Free and Lightweight

Hunting for travel-friendly suits for women or lightweight suits? As of 2024, some of our favorites include these brands/lines: 1) M.M.LaFleur, 2) Ministry of Supply, 3) Paul Smith, and 4) Talbots. (Not pictured: Eddie Bauer and Suitably! Brooks Brothers also occasionally has suiting in their BrooksCool line, and Uniqlo occasionally has Airism suiting. ) You may also want to check out our roundup of washable suits for women!

Our favorite travel-friendly suits of 2024: one / two / three / four

Fun, Colorful Suits for Women

Summer is a great time to play with colorful suits.

Light Blue Suits

If you’re hunting for colorful suits, note that light blue suits for summer are some of the easiest because you can wear them as you would a light gray suit. As of June 2024, we’re seeing nice ones at Reiss, Brooks Brothers, and Hugo Boss, . On the more affordable side, find blue suits at Ann Taylor (“blue echo,” ojai, and a plaid), Banana Republic Factory, J.Crew Factory, from Tahari, and Eloquii. If you’re hunting for a shorts suit (or, perhaps, just a blazer), Cinq à Sept has a nice “French blue.”

Banana Republic

Brooks Brothers

Blue Echo


Yellow Suits

In 2024, Banana Republic Factory has a nice dark yellow as well as lighter yellow suiting.

Orange Suits

For orange suiting, WHBM has cute orange matching pieces including suiting, Tahari has a very bright orange (in plus sizes as well), and The Fold has some options in a lovely “burnt orange.” Saks OFF5TH has a great tangerine suit from Alice & Olivia, also, and Mango has some “coral” reddish orange suiting.

Green Suits

In 2024, we’ve noticed M.M.LaFleur has pretty shamrock suiting, while Estelle (plus sizes), Akris, and J.Crew have nice medium greens. BOSS has some suiting in a beautiful deep green, while Banana Republic has a very light “celery” green.

Pink Suits

As of 2024, some of our latest favorite pink suits for women include options from light pink options such as suiting from J.Crew, Banana Republic Factory, Ann Taylor (“mauve orchid” and lipstick), Abercrombie & Fitch, and J.Crew Factory. Hunting for a more saturated pink? Try Tahari, Banana Republic Factory, and Eloquii.

Light Purple Suits

Banana Republic has suiting in a violet lavender.

Teal Suits

As of 2024, there aren’t many blue/green suits or teal suits that we know of aside from this Moroccan blue suit at Eloquii and M.M.LaFleur‘s “blue jade” suiting. Let us know if you find any!

{related: what to wear to work in the summer}

Stock photo via Deposit Photos / dashek.

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