The Summer Knows: Style Dos & Don’ts

It’s natural to dress casually during the summer months, but you don’t want to cross an often fuzzy line. For advice, we asked Laura Barclay, president and founder of the Minneapolis Civility and Etiquette Centre; and Elizabeth Craig, career development professional and author of Don’t Slurp Your Soup, A Basic Guide to Business Etiquette.

Sunglasses: DON'Tindoors, at least. You can wear them at outdoor business-related events, but only if absolutely necessary. If possible, remove your glasses and step into the shade. If you’re more comfortable in glasses, make sure they’re not too dark. The most important thing is to maintain eye contact during conversation. “Don’t wear glasses with reflective lenses,” Barclay says. “You want people to be able to see your eyes.”

Shorts: DON’Tcertainly not in the office. But they can be worn at outdoor events such as a company picnic. Men’s shorts should be at no more than five inches above the knee, Barclay says. “For women, stylish capris or cropped pants are a great option,” Craig says. “The knee is covered, so it’s a more professional look than wearing shorts.”

Sandals: DON’T—if you’re male. Closed-toed shoes are a must for men. “Men should always wear socks, and they shouldn’t show bare legs,” Craig says. Women can get away with peep-toe shoes as long as they’ve had a recent pedicure. The number-one rule for both sexes is no flip-flops. “You shouldn’t wear anything that makes a sound when you walk,” Barclay says. “It’s very distracting in a business environment.”

Skirts: DObut the length needs to be office appropriate. Knee length or slightly above is the best style, Barclay says. To update the look for summer, pick a light fabric or a bright color. Stockings are optional. But “if your legs look better in stockings, wear them,” Craig says.