What to wear to work this summer

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What to wear to work this summer

Air conditioning can only do so much, and while it might be seasonally appropriate to sport strappy sundresses and barely there cut-offs, those items aren't usually office appropriate. Fortunately, a happy medium does exist and pieces that balance comfort with professionalism are possible -- and even easy -- to find.

We asked image consultant and personal shopper Eric Boone to share his insights into what items women should wear to the office this summer. "These seven items will keep businesswomen cool and comfortable while still giving them a professional look," he says.

1. Wrap dress
One of the best ways to maintain a professional look while still feeling comfortable is with the classic wrap dress. "Start with a wrap dress," Boone advises. "It's lightweight, it's flattering to most figures and it can be worn both during work and after five."

There are countless hues and patterns of wrap dresses to choose from, but for summer, go bold, says Boone. "Bright colours are great for summer because they not only look stylish, but they also deflect heat away from the body," he explains.

Pair your wrap dress with wedge sandals or T-strap heels in a neutral hue.

2. Shirtdress
For even more seasonal versatility, add a shirtdress to your wardrobe. The neat lines and menswear-inspired design make for a timeless office look, says Boone. Not to mention, a shirtdress will keep you cool.

"A cotton shirtdress in a neutral tone is great because it's lightweight and breathable," he says, "and by adding just a few key accessories you'll look summer-chic, cool and professional."

Add a feminine twist to your shirtdress with delicate heels, a skinny belt and a statement necklace in a bold colour such as coral, turquoise or even neon.

3. Pencil skirt
Chances are you already have a pencil skirt in your closet, which means you're one step ahead of the game when it comes to summer office style.

"A pencil skirt is the ultimate fashion item for summer office-wear because it says you're in charge, but is still a very feminine look," explains Boone. "Pencil skirts are also slimming and easily dress up jackets or blouses."

Choose a material that has a small amount of stretch for added comfort.

Page 1 of 2 -- From tapered slacks to sheath dresses, discover four other stylish pieces to wear to work this summer on page 2.
4. Tapered slacks
Tapered -- not skinny -- slacks in cotton or lightweight wool are a very versatile option for your summer office wardrobe, says Boone. "By adding just a tailored suit coat or sport coat and a great pair of tall pumps, you create a look that is smart and can go from the boardroom to the party room in a snap," he says.

Opt for a pastel-hued pair of pants (we like mint!) and pair them with a top in cream, grey or white.

5. Two-piece pantsuit
No matter the season, no office wardrobe is complete without a pantsuit. "The definitive summer work outfit is the two-piece pantsuit in cotton, linen or tropical wool," says Boone. "A well-tailored pantsuit will make getting ready easy and will keep you cool so that you look sharp and polished," the stylist adds.

In terms of colour, look for khaki, wheat, driftwood brown, ocean blue, heather grey, tangerine tango or white, he advises. Natural fibers such as cotton, linen and tropical-weight wools will wick body moisture away, meaning the humidity won't impede your productivity or your style.

6. Sheath dress
One of the best dresses to have in your summer style arsenal is the sheath dress. "A great sheath dress can be worn with or without a jacket, and depending on the cut, can conceal unflattering tummy bulges and smooth out hips, all while keeping you cool, comfortable and stylish," says Boone.

Sheath dresses are versatile enough to pair with either flats or heels, and they lend themselves well to a variety of accessories. Not to mention, they're timeless.

7. Tailored cotton, linen or tropical wool jacket
While you might be sweltering as you go from the parking lot to your office building or as you head out to grab an iced latte on your break, your work environment is likely air conditioned and chilly. This makes a jacket a wardrobe must for optimum comfort.

"The tailored jacket -- either suit or sport -- is made to coordinate with all the items I've mentioned: wrap dress, shirtdress, pencil skirt, tapered slacks or sheath dress," says Boone.

When it comes to turning your summer-friendly office items into fashionable outfits, remember to keep your look balanced. "One rule of thumb for mixing and matching these items is to remember that if you're wearing a neutral as the primary piece, then you should balance it out with a bold colour in your shoes and accessories," says Boone. "If you're wearing primarily bold colours, temper them with pastel hues for jewelry, including metal statement pieces in silver or gold."

The key is to opt for comfortably chic pieces, to have fun with your look and to find a balance between laid-back summer style and a work-appropriate wardrobe.

Want more insider fashion tips? Check out our Fashion and Beauty blog.

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What to wear to work this summer