7 socially unacceptable things to wear to work in a heatwave

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Britain is baking in a sweltering heatwave this week, with temperatures soaring to the mid-30s across the south of England.

And while many people are still working at home due to the coronavirus lockdown, offices are slowly reopening across the country, meaning some will be faced with the challenge of finding ways to dress for work in the heat.

Given that Britons are more accustomed to rainfall than blazing sunshine, many will inevitably struggle with the sartorial challenges of balancing professionalism with comfort.

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It’s no mean feat, finding that sweet spot of sweat-wicking fabrics and boardroom appropriateness, but as we reach inferno-like temperatures, it’s necessary to amend one’s work wardrobe accordingly so we don’t all end up spending our days soaked in sweat.

But how casual is too casual?

When it comes to dressing for work in a heatwave, there is a spectrum of what is and is not socially acceptable. At one end, there are floaty sundresses, linen shirts and canvas sandals. At the other, there are mesh vest tops, denim hot pants and halter-neck crop tops.

Confused about which is which? Read on for our guide on what not to wear to the office in a heatwave.

Swerve the shorts

Denim shorts are unacceptable outside of adolescence. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Men in shorts. It sounds harmless enough, right? Perhaps it is if you just celebrated your 16th birthday.

But for professional grown ups, wearing shorts makes you look like a school boy who got lost on their way to the ice cream shop.

Your boss will also most definitely judge you for bearing your hairy calves to your colleagues, and who can blame them?

Forget your flip flops

This applies even if you’ve had a pedicure (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Regardless of whether you just got an at-home pedicure or you think your feet are your best attribute, flip flops are not acceptable in the boardroom. Firstly, the constant clappity sound will drive everybody mad every time you get up to use the toilet.

Secondly, despite having a renaissance among the street style set, flip flops will ultimately fade out of fashion’s ephemeral zeitgeist. Soon enough, they will go back to being the impractical and uncomfortable shoes that make every outfit at least 70 per cent less cool.

Thirdly, nobody needs to see that much of anyone else’s feet before 10am. Stick to a classic sandal, unless you’re a man – in which case, shoes please.

Vest tops are a no

It doesn’t matter how muscly you are (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Men who wear vests to work are the sartorial equivalent of people who wear tops with slogans like “brunch so hard” – overzealous and waiting for an opportunity for someone to ask about their weekly workout routine.

Maybe your arm muscles do rival Mark Wahlberg’s, but unless you actually are Mark Wahlberg, chances are that nobody at work cares about the ins and outs of your 6am HIIT workout. Find a suitable linen shirt to wear instead and save your tank tops for gym selfies.

Women have more wiggle room with strappy tops, so long as the straps are sturdy and not quite so fragile that they slip off to reveal your bust with an accidentally forceful hair flick.

Do not try and bring sexy back

Save the backless tops for the beach (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

If you turn up to the office wearing a backless top it says two things. Firstly, that you fancy one of your colleagues. Secondly, you’re not wearing a bra.

Slip dresses

Carrie Bradshaw in a slip dress (Sex and the City/HBO)

The humble 1990s staple might’ve worked wonders for Kate Moss, Sienna Miller and Carrie Bradshaw, but did they wear them to their 9-5 jobs?

Even Bradshaw, the freelance journalist who could somehow afford a one bedroom apartment in the Upper East Side, worked remotely. Save your paper-thin slip dress for a rooftop party in Ibiza, not an air-conditioned office.

Save your crop tops for festivals

Crop tops are best reserved for festival fields. (Rex Features)

This should seem self-explanatory but last summer, there were as many crop tops in offices as there were polka dot Zara dresses.

You might argue that baring your midriff keeps you cool. Sure, let’s pretend that part of your tummy just gets really, really hot.

Do not partake in the white skinny jean parade

The men on Love Island tend to frequent white skinny jeans. (Rex Features)

Someone somewhere once told men they looked great in white skinny jeans. That person has either watched too much Love Island or starred in Love Island.

The ITV2 programme might not be airing this summer, but the wardrobe choices of its contestants will stay with us for life. Most notable are the inexplicably tight, optic-white jeans typically favoured by so many of the male contestants.

They are, quite simply, one of the greatest aesthetic atrocities of modern life. Don’t wear them to work. In fact, don’t wear them at all.

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