Men’s Guide to Business Casual in the Summer

So, it’s 90 degrees out, and you aren’t feeling your usual business casual outfits because, well, you are dying of heat.

Understandable.

The good news is that I work with men often on summer styling so I have some cool, comfortable suggestions for men’s summer business casual outfits.

With a few quick tips, you can update your summer wardrobe to both look professional, put together and stay comfortable through the hotter months.

WHAT IS BUSINESS CASUAL?

When I work with men on image consulting, one of the first considerations we discuss is how professional your work attire needs to be for your office setting.

 Business casual means men aren’t wearing suits to your office on a daily basis, and jackets are not required. You may see women dressing in slacks and blouses, rather than dresses, heels, and suits.

You may even have a jeans day on Fridays (or another designated day).

All of these signs indicate you should be dressing “business casual” at work.

If coworkers are often wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and extremely casual footwear such as sneakers or sandals, you may be at a casual office rather than business casual.

If you still aren’t sure exactly what your dress code is, check out these tips on how to look good regardless of the dress code.

THE ESSENTIAL PIECES FOR SUMMER

So what should a man in a business casual setting wear in the summer?

The staples include:

  1. Short sleeve polos
  2. Light colored pants (not jeans)
  3. Lightweight layering pieces
  4. Shoes can include loafers, and casual dress shoes.

THE COLORS TO WEAR FOR SUMMER BUSINESS CASUAL

Summer is the time to embrace lighter colors that tell others you do in fact know what season it is, and are dressing appropriately.

Warmer months are the perfect seasons to experiment with fun, lighter colors.

Wearing a lighter color palette  also indicates you don’t take yourself too seriously, and that you enjoy developing your personal style. Investing in core and tonal colors will keep your wardrobe looking classy and versatile (think beiges, grays, creams, light blues, etc.).

Now that we’ve gone through the key tips for business casual summer style for men, let’s dive into some outfits inspiration.

BUSINESS CASUAL SUMMER OUTFIT 1.  For day to day

Day to day business casual in the summer for men can combine comfort and style, as you select options in breathable fabrics and embrace short sleeved options.

Men can choose from short sleeved polos, linen button downs with sleeves rolled or pushed up, and other heat-friendly options.

While shorts should still be avoided, trousers can also be lightweight and breathable fabrics that allow for high temperature days.

Many of the summer essentials already in your closet can be repurposed for work, such as a navy tee for layering, and casual sneakers paired with your trousers.

BUSINESS CASUAL SUMMER OUTFIT 2 . For a client meeting

Looking put together for a big client meeting will not only help you seal the deal but also help you to get in the right mindset ahead of time.

When you’re interacting with potential clients, it’s important to elevate from your typical business casual outfit and show you’re dependable, trustworthy and will deliver great results.

Notice how the blazer gives this summer business casual look some structure. It looks powerful, yet approachable and put together.

When looking for a summer blazer (aka a layering piece, in the essential category) you want to make sure it’s in a lighter fabric (such as cotton) and color. You want it to look fresh, stylish and effortless.

Remember that the color of your pants don’t need to match the color of your blazer! This is a common myth that many men believe- when you break up the colors it can even read more modern, up-to-date and cool.

BUSINESS CASUAL SUMMER OUTFIT 3. For an interview

Interviews notoriously have required a suit and tie, but in summertime business casual settings, it may be appropriate to dress down a bit from this old-fashioned requirement.

However, interviews do require a certain level of formality, including adding a tie, wearing more formal footwear than loafers, and choosing a high quality jacket, such as this linen silk Navy Havana Jacket/Suit Supply.

Try pairing with khaki chinos as pictured, with a light colored polo underneath. Remember you want to concentrate on the fit of your khakis and not fall into the Dad Khaki which looks shapeless and unflattering.

When wearing a blazer for summertime business casual, you can opt for a short sleeve polo instead of a long sleeve button down. This will keep your body cooler by wearing less layering and it will not look like your average guy interviewing.

For your interview you can opt for a loafer (like these from Loro Piana).

If interview fashion still has you feeling a bit nervous, check out my advice on what not to wear in an interview and my other available services for men.

BUSINESS CASUAL SUMMER OUTFIT 4. For business travel

Most men have a long sleeve button down shirt as their only go to option for business casual.

But there are so many other styles out there! (and that’s what I can help you discover)

Take a look at this outfit and notice the top- it’s made of a knit (think lightweight, breathable sweater material) which is a modern update to the average plaid long sleeve button down.

The soft, comfortable fabric makes it the perfect transition item between a chilly plane ride and a warm commute to your hotel or meeting upon landing. The fabric is lightweight cotton, so it’s breathable, and will travel well if you need to pack it in your suitcase.

This whole look you could also wear to a business dinner at night- just throw a layering piece, like a blazer on top and you’re good to go.

BUSINESS CASUAL SUMMER OUTFIT 5. For a nighttime event

When your office hosts an evening event, it can be confusing to figure out how to maintain a men’s business casual look outside normal office hours.

Luckily, a lightweight sweater,and  well-fitting trousers will be a simple solution. The best part of this is that you can dress it up really easily, depending on the event- layer a structured blazer or substitute in a loafer if you want to look more formal (but keep your cool!)

Choosing neutral light colors for the sweater, such as light blues, creams, and grays, such as this Light Blue Crewneck by Suit Supply.

The linen-cotton blend is an easy fabric to wear on a sweltering evening gathering with coworkers or clients, and can be layered with a jacket for other events (above).

Picture of Cassandra Sethi

Cassandra Sethi is a NYC Personal Stylist and Image Consultant. After working over 15 years in the Fashion Industry, most recently as a Senior Buyer for Equinox, she created business Next Level Wardrobe – a luxury personal shopping service for successful professionals. Cassandra’s been featured in Greatist, Livestrong and NY Mag.

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Cassandra Sethi
Personal Stylist NYC
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917-300-1882

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