Heat Wave 101: How to Dress Well in a Super-Corporate Environment

As any women who work in a corporate environment will know, dressing for the summer months can be a minefield. How do you stay cool without looking like you're about to stroll to the beach? Is it possible to navigate the extreme temperature changes created by the industrial air-con? The struggle is real.

"In the UK, we aren't used to hot summers, so if you're anything like me, your wardrobe for hot weather is more beach-ready than office appropriate," says Polly McMaster, co-founder of fashionable workwear brand The Fold. "It can be hard to find styles that keep you cool without baring arms and legs—which is not always office appropriate or flattering for the wearer."

Well, we've heard your cries of distress via our private Facebook shopping group (join So… Should I Buy This? right here), and with a little help from the experts, we've put together a guide on how to stay chic, smart and cool in the heat wave. From cool cover-ups to desk-ready dresses, we've covered all the bases. Scroll down to get the our top tips.

How do I cover up without overheating?

For women in particular, the issue of looking professional and appropriate in summery clothes can be troublesome. "An elegant tailored top, such as a blouse, looks as smart as a jacket without the burden of layers or overheating", explains Polly recommending the Lainston style below. "If you can't face tailored suit trousers in the heat, switch to wide-leg culottes in a lightweight stretch fabric. Stopping above the ankle, these are incredibly chic, flattering and comfortable."

I want a dress that is floaty yet smart

Although the shops are awash with an abundance of dress styles, it can be surprisingly difficult to find something that's cool, smart, stylish but not too revealing all in one go. The key is to stick to breathable fabrics, such as cotton, silk and linen, and forgo synthetic options where possible. In terms of style, look out for shirtdresses and wrap dresses, which generally tend to come in more covered-up fits. Mango's 100% cotton blue shirtdress offers a longer sleeve alongside a flattering waist-tie detail.

One of the biggest clothing issues faced by women working in a corporate environment is air-con—after all, what do you do when it's sweltering outside but inside it feels arctic? "This is where a dress with sleeves or a hardworking white blazer will do wonders," Polly explains. "Wrap jackets are also great to keep at your desk, as they will smarten up any outfit if needed and keep the air-con at bay."

What sort of summer shoes are office-appropriate?

When it comes to smart summer footwear, Polly recommends looking to this season's biggest shoe trends: strappy sandals and kitten heels. "Smart, low-heeled sandals can look great with a work outfit, and keep you cool, but it does depend on how smart your office environment is," she says. "A smart flat or kitten can look really chic with a summer dress—Bally and Sergio Rossi have some beautiful flats and slides that are extremely elegant and beautifully made so they won't cut your feet on hot days."