Thursday, 26 July 2012

Summer style guidelines for the City

The summer has finally come out here in London, and as usual I am reminded that although some people here in the City sail through the hot weather looking cool, stylish and put together, others fail to present a professional front because of inappropriate dressing.
From extensive observation (nothing like a bit of people watching!), it seems that what I believe are the biggest faux pas fall into 2 categories.
The first, and by far the most common, is dressing as if the weather is still cold and raining, rather than 30 degrees and sunny.  On my way to work this morning I saw a lady in a black wool trouser suit, ankle boots and a long sleeved formal shirt, as well as numerous girls still wearing opaque black tights.  It made me feel hot just looking at them.
The other, less frequent, but somehow greater problem is those who dress for the beach or back garden, while in the City.  Flipflops (both sexes), shorts (men), skimpy sundresses, skirts that are far too short, tops with spaghetti straps.  In my mind, none of these is appropriate for wearing in the city, and especially not for work in a professional environment.
Working as a senior manager in the City I tend to work to 3 rules for work clothes in the summer.
1)      Dresses.  Can be sleeveless, but not strappy.  Anything other than black or grey.  Knee length, and relatively structured, but not a plain wool shift.  Colour and pattern always work, even if it feels 'loud' to start with.  The dress I have received most compliments on this summer is orange!
2)      Shoes.  I walk to work in my sandals, but take a pair of smart peep toe heels or similar to the office to change into.  Sandals are not office appropriate, but somehow many court shoes just look and feel wrong with summer dresses.  No sling backs though please.  Just no. Eighties-tastic.
3)      I take a blazer jacket with me for meetings – it works over dresses and make me feel pulled together, as well as keeping me warm in that fierce air-conditioning that the boys all seem to insist on.
The unwritten rules here in the City have definitely changed over the last few years, and embracing femininity is definitely allowed.  I’ve seen some fabulously dressed women this week, wearing colour, and dresses/skirts, and wonderful shoes.  Gone are the days when it was the navy blue skirt suit for all occasions.  Let’s make the most of the sun, and wear those summer dresses.
Would love to hear your ideas for staying cool, and still looking fabulous and professional.  And what do you think about what is appropriate for wearing in the city?  Am I being too restrictive?
Here is some inspiration:

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