3 No-Sweat Rules for Looking Professional in the Summer As temperatures rise, you still have to dress the part of a competent entrepreneur.

By Deborah Mitchell

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


As the summer heats up, entrepreneurs -- both men and women -- in all fields will be searching for a look to push the fashion envelope, stay casually cool and still dress to impress.

According to Diane Pollack, a wardrobe consultant and personal shopper who helms stylempower.com in New York City, the rules of dressing for every entrepreneur are the same no matter the season.

"Know your audience. Where are you going and who are you meeting that day? An entrepreneur's lifestyle and activities are usually more diverse than the person who shows up at the same office every day. You may be meeting someone for coffee. Who is this person? Another entrepreneur? In that case, you may opt for a more casual, yet still put-together outfit," Pollack says. "But perhaps this is a corporate person who works in a formal environment. If so, then you need to step up your level of attire, often mirroring their formal look. The same rules apply for networking events. Where are you networking and what type of people are you meeting?"

Related: Look Great -- For All Occasions -- On an Entrepreneur's Budget

Freelance writer Laurie Vazquez says that when it comes to dressing for the heat, having wardrobe accessories at the office helps.

"For me, 'dressing to impress' in sweltering New York weather involves keeping some layer of cover-up on hand for the office -- a tried-and-true cardigan, a scarf that doubles as a shawl, even a crocheted cropped sweater -- to pull together a wrap dress/cami and skirt outfit to combat the office AC," Vazquez says. "Something that layers well and therefore 'mimics' the more stodgy suited look native to most offices, without me having to swelter in a full jacket."

Kimberly Reyes, a senior social strategist for ICED Media, says choosing clothes made from the right fabric can make a difference.

"Tencel is my go-to," she says. "It's a man-made fabric that's lightweight and has a really luxe look. I also like to pick fabrics that are breathable, like crochet, lace and anything with eyelets."

It's mid-June, and we've already hit the hottest day of the year here in New York City, so how should we plan for the rest of the summer? Fashion experts have a few tips for dressing when the temperature rises in your area:

1. Fabrics and color matter.

Stylist Rachel Levin of Rachel Levin Style believes in investing in staple pieces.

"Purchase staples like sports or statement jackets and suiting in lightweight, natural fabrics that breathe, like cotton sateen and linen," she says. "Greige, off-whites and shades of blue are great colors to explore for the season."

Related: Dress for Success This Summer With These 5 Style Tips for Men

2. Stay covered up.

Avoid wearing clothing that is too revealing -- either short, sheer or even tight -- just because it is more comfortable in the humidity. Also, don't go sleeveless or lose a layer for important meetings. Keep a wrap or extra jacket at your desk.

3. Finish the look.

"Strategically take advantage of air-conditioning. If you have an important meeting, take a car to be comfortable or arrive early to give yourself a chance to cool down and freshen up," Levin says. "Ladies should always bring makeup for touch ups. Incorporate style elements to finish looks, including coordinating statements or layering necklaces, earrings, bangles, watches, belts and scarves. These elements are even more important in the summer to pull together looks without a jacket or cardigan layered on top. Men should avoid unfinished looks -- like a tee and khakis -- and follow the rule of three: Shirts should be tucked, and belts, watchbands and shoes should match."

Guys, we know the hot weather can be brutal for you, too. However, a few of you have found ways to keep the wardrobe professional in the summer heat.

Johnathan Lloyd Wiggins, a publicist and owner of Wiggins PR Group in New York City, usually has hectic days of back-to-back meetings. He says men can be casual and comfortable, yet still look professional.

"Although a suit jacket isn't always necessary, a tie is a must and an outfit paired with a nice watch or tasteful pieces of jewelry will set you apart from the crowd and give you that flare," he says.

During the summer, Julbert Abraham, a managing partner of AGM, says he likes "to keep it simple and stylish. I normally do slacks with a casual dress shirt. For networking, some shorts and linen shirts."

Pollack reminds entrepreneurs to show that they care about the appointment or event.

"You always need to make sure you are well groomed and put together," she says. "No casual jeans, scuffed shoes or messy hair. Dress to be your brand."

Related: How One Apparel Brand Is Bringing Style to Sustainable Clothing

Deborah Mitchell

CEO & Founder, Deborah Mitchell Media Associates

Emmy-nominated network television producer Deborah Mitchell is a veteran of ABC and CBS News, a member of the Producers Guild of America, and a board member of the James Beard Broadcast and Media Awards Committee. Through Deborah Mitchell Media Associates she will create your online personality with a customized website, book you on the right television show, manage your social media profiles and finally connect you with the best and brightest digital influencers. Mitchell is author of So You Want To Be On TV

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