Valerie Burns

Valerie Burns

Although summer brings the warmer days, it’s not really appropriate (unless you are a surfing or swimming instructor) to keep your flip flops on during business hours. While your clients or customers are welcome to keep their shorts and flip flops on, you will want to stay summer polished.

Even though it’s summer, business is still rolling along. Most entrepreneurs, business owners and employees still need to make a great first impression, as well as a polished everyday impression in any business.

There are ways to dress for cool for summer, but continue to look professional, or depending on your business, sport a business casual look that is still polished. It’s easy to drift into a summer sloppy look when it’s hot. Here are a few suggestions for men and women.

Gentlemen, while it’s tempting to wear your jeans and khakis with flip flops, I would suggest trying a more polished open shoe. Photo example shown is from Nordstrom. It’s still comfortable and cool, but vastly more professional looking than a flip flop style sandal. I will add that it’s a great look for evening social occasions, including a date.

A few things you may want to add to your wardrobe this summer would be a linen shirt, summer color pin stripe shirts (keeping flattering color in mind), and a linen blend jacket for a pulled together look. I’m suggesting a linen blend because it will wrinkle less.

It’s best to wear trousers in lighter fabrics and colors such as tan, bone, navy and even black mixed with brighter colors in a shirt. Go for a cool, casual but stylish look that gives the impression of little effort.


A men’s polished open shoe offers a professional alternative to flip flops.

Ladies, since we have an endless selection of great-looking sandals, we don’t need to wear too casual of a summer open shoe. One tip: If you desire a very professional look, then a sandal with a back has a more finished look.

A few things you may want to add to your wardrobe this summer would be sleeveless pattern tops (photo example shown is from Banana Republic) with a flattering color for your skin tone. You can wear the same few black, navy and tan pants/skirts and multiply your looks by various tops with a lightweight open long linen cardigan or elbow length light weight sweater. I would suggest keeping skirts and dresses below the knee for a pulled together look. Also, longer lengths are currently fashionable.

I would also suggest not wearing anything too low cut during business hours. You might want to add a natural linen (linen blend for fewer wrinkles) pant to your wardrobe. A wider leg is a wonderful look. Remember to keep the top fitted if you wear a pant or skirt with volume.


Sleeveless pattern tops can be a great addition for a woman’s summer wardrobe.

Capri pants work well with a stylish shoe and top. If you are of shorter height, I would suggest keeping the pant full length for a longer look. For fun, wear handbags and shoes in brighter colors.

If you find any of this confusing, overwhelming or need an overhaul in your closet, hire a professional to get you cleared of “what not to wear” and looking great with the best style, fit and color to your individual desires ad goals.

To conclude, there are ways to stay cool, but remain professionally “cool” in business during summer. Even when the days feel like everyone ought to be at the beach, you will shine as you dress for success and present the wow factor!

— Valerie Burns is a Santa Barbara-based image and design consultant specializing in personal image and interior design makeovers. Her blog will appear periodically. Click here for more information. The opinions expressed are her own.