How to dress for work when the temperature rises

Fashion experts weigh in: Here's what you should wear to work this summer

By Charlotte Elton  


We’ve all been there. Staring forlornly into the back of a wardrobe, clothes strewn all over the floor, clock ticking closer to 9am.    After two years of zoom dress code (i.e. pyjamas), many of us have forgotten how to dress stylishly - and appropriately - for work.

As the mercury rises, this fraught task becomes even more difficult. Should you risk heatstroke by donning wintry business attire? Is everyone judging your shorts? Are Birkenstocks a fireable offence?

It’s enough to make your head spin before you've even logged in to your emails.

But fear not - help is at hand. Fashion coach Lucia Restani and stylist Jessica Daolio are here to share their expert tips for dressing in the hot weather.


How to dress for work when the temperature rises



Born and raised in balmy Italy, Restani and Daolio are no strangers to the heat. 

Daolio - who has worked on fashion campaigns at Vogue Italy and Dazed&Confused - is currently an editor at SoccerBible and Collectible Dry magazine.

Restani's a fashion expert too. After moving to London in 2004, she worked as the lead buyer and visual merchandiser for a consultancy boutique in Mayfair. And since going independent in 2011, the passionate stylist has dedicated her career to ensuring her clients feel comfortable and confident, whatever the weather.

“People in colder places like the UK can struggle to dress for summer. I think it's just because very often you don't have enough summer to experiment!” she says.

“But there are ways of dealing with the heat and still feeling good in what you wear.”

Here are their five top tips for keeping cool - and staying stylish - as the mercury rises.



1. Choose natural fabrics

linen tops

                                                                            officina36 - linen shirts


Natural fibres like cotton, linen, and silk are lightweight, airy options that help the body to regulate temperature. While scratchy synthetics like polyester, acrylics, and nylons trap body heat - a recipe for unseemly sweat patches.

"I’d say the choice of light and fresh, natural fabrics is the key to making sure you’ll be generally fine during the summer," Daolio says. 

Restani agrees. “The number one rule is be attentive to fabrics. I am Italian, and for us, wearing linen is one of the best ways to keep cool. People here (in the UK) are very scared of linen."

“Natural fabrics, they allow the skin to breathe.”

Surprisingly, certain types of lightweight wool can be a good summer choice, too. Wool wicks sweat from the body, and releases the moisture through the fibres of the fabric.


2. Don’t wear anything too tight - but do accessorise

To stay cool in summer, it's best to ditch the body con and opt for loose clothing instead. But loose doesn’t have to mean shapeless, Restani insists. You just need to choose the right accessories.

“Whatever you want to do, you can do by accessorising,” she says.

“For example, if you’re wearing a dress, you can always add on a belt if your waist is your best feature,” she says.

“Or maybe add on a long necklace, if you want to be elongated - there are a lot of options.”


3. Wear light-coloured clothes

Dark colours are a poor choice in the hotter months, as they absorb more heat than lighter alternatives.

“In the Mediterranean we wear a lot of white for example, and a lot of beige,” Restani says.

Just be careful not to overdo it - too much white linen and you’ll look like an usher at a beach wedding.


4. Holiday gear and work wear: know the difference


            Certain sandals are great for holidaying - but not so great for the officePakhnyushchyy / canva


Holiday fashion is easy - wear whatever you want, and pair it with ice cream.

But what works on the beach, doesn't always work in the office, and toeing the line can be stressful.

"Flip flops and anything related to a holiday or beach situation should be banned for any city/office look," Daolio warns.

People can avoid this fashion faux pas with simple changes. Looking smart is about combining the right elements - and choosing good quality clothes over cheaply made fast fashion, Restani insists.

“If you wear espadrilles, it can look like you are walking down Saint Tropez," she says.

"But if you wear a beautiful leather sandal or sling-back, that gives you more of an urban look.”


5. Always carry an extra layer - and add a scarf

Going to work in summer is a temperature rollercoaster. One minute, you’re sweltering on a packed train. The next, you’re freezing in an air-conditioned ice box.

Hide the aircon remote from your colleagues and you might end up in HR. Dodge the recriminations by layering up. 

"As the weather in the UK is very unpredictable, it is always a good idea to carry an overcoat with you," says Daolio.

"My favourite overcoats are oversize denim vintage jackets, as well as tailored blazers and classic light trenches."

Restani’s suggestion? Scarves.

“A lot of my British clients don’t know how to wear scarves. But they can be a very useful tool and a very beautiful accessory,” the stylist says.

“Outside, they protect your neck from the sun, you can throw one on your shoulder. Inside, they are good for layering.”





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Lucia made my shopping in London a real pleasure and much more! Being an Italian give her an inherited sense of beauty and harmony, but not only this. Lucia has a temper that makes you enjoy the process, it becomes a real creative work and you enjoy it (even if you hate shopping). She broaden my horizons and approaches to my image, which I would never have dared to do myself-and always worked! I love wearing the clothes I bought with her and love myself in them.
NI, Head of Diversified Sectors Coverage, RBS
I've worked with Lucia for over 10 years and her fashion knowledge, personal service and attention to detail makes her an outstanding stylist. She also brings her own very clever "eye" so always keeps your wardrobe contemporary whilst stylish and effortlessly chic!
SF, Director - Communications; Non-executive; Trustee at Historic Royal Palaces
Lucia has completely changed not just my 'look' but the way I think about clothes. She has given me the confidence to wear shapes and colours I would never have dreamt of wearing before, and with a completely new attitude.
CL, Partner at Partnership Headhunting
Working with Lucia has been a fantastic experience. My wardrobe is now more streamline, manageable and makes business travel so easy. Lucia's hand selected pieces are also the most lovely conversation starters - quite amazing the compliments you get! We all know that people notice what you wear and so getting professional help in ensuring you are the best you can be, it makes total sense - I just wish I had done this earlier in my career!
NB, Managing Director in Financial Services
I needed to find two outfits for a very special evening birthday occasion and for a daytime Royal visit. Both very different requirements! Lucia assessed my needs, did her research and I simply had to choose from the outfits she had selected. On both occasions I bought the first thing I tried on and felt amazing!
LW, CEO and Trustee at Historic Royal Palaces