Hi Jaclyn! I’ll be interning in DC this summer and will have to dress business casual almost every day. What are some good outfits that are work-appropriate but are also summer certified with all the humidity I’m going to be dealing with? Thanks for you help! I love your blog.
You’re lucky you have a business casual dress code! That gives you a lot more flexibility than if you were working on the Hill, for example. (Capitol Hill Style also has tons of tips about how to dress for work in DC, so be sure to read her blog for more ideas!)
The easiest and most comfortable way to dress for the swampy summer weather is to plan to layer. Start with a few sleeveless shifts and build from there. You’ll want to have a cardigan or jacket handy in case of a meeting or aggressive air conditioning. (One office I worked at kept the A/C at 58 degrees throughout the summer. I had to resort to a space heater to keep from shivering all day. Talk about a shock to the system when I walked outside into 100 degree heat.) I only wore pants in the summer if it was absolutely necessary (a conservative client meeting, for example), but you’ll find that a lot of private sector women wear dresses consistently from June-September. When temperatures top 105, there is nothing more miserable than wearing a blouse tucked into trousers.
Don’t forget to check outlets like LOFT, Gap and J.Crew for work-appropriate dresses at great prices and H&M will always have some business appropriate options too, probably for around $30-$40. (There are outlets in Leesburg, Va., Hagerstown, Md., and also ones right across the Bay Bridge near Annapolis.)
Shoes might be even trickier than clothing since the high humidity here creates the Perfect Storm for blistering feet. Some of my worst shoe disasters came when I wore flats in high heat/high humidity. Those things can tear your feet to shreds in the summer. A lot of women opt to wear flip flops/sandals to commute and then switch to heels at the office. I did that occasionally too, but it’s a lot easier to just find a few pairs of really comfortable shoes that are walking-friendly AND office-appropriate. (Don’t forget that if you’ll be making any trips down to the Hill, you’ll be walking all over the goddamn place and flip flops aren’t going to cut it!) Aerosoles makes my favorite work-appropriate wedges. I can stand and walk in those things all day. Modest heel (3 inches or so) pumps and wedges are versatile enough to pair with multiple outfits through the summer.
Light wrap dresses are also another good option. They’re also pretty enough to go from the office to a happy hour without you having to change much except your lipstick.
And, just in case you don’t think of it, be sure to have a really great deodorant/antiperspirant. The Metro stations/cars get ungodly hot. Certain-Dri used with Degree for Men was always a super reliable combination for me. Don’t forget to drop a few hair ties or bobby pins into your handbag too. If you get sweaty or the humidity makes your hair do crazy things, you can always put it up in a sleek ponytail or bun.
I hope this helps and good luck! I hope you have a great summer!