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Work Appropriate Summer Fits for Your Personality Type

Editor’s Note: Our second guest blog of the summer comes from Kara of the Analyzing Media with Your Girlfriend blog. If you want to help contribute to the Summer Fridays series this summer, email me at workretiredie@gmail.com

(*Author’s note: We all know clothing isn’t inherently gendered – it’s 2022. But this article uses the terms “men’s” and “women’s” clothing for ease, which is probably what your HR department has in mind when considering dress code as well.) (Except if you work in DEI, in which case you’re better than me and probably don’t have a dress code at all.)

Ah … summer. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and you’re standing in front of your closet, naked except for socks, staring between two semi-identical white shirts.

Work-appropriate summer fashion is a lot like taxes. Despite being a problem literally every year of your adult life, you never quite learn what exactly you’re supposed to do and end up consulting your mom and various subreddits in a panicked frenzy. Just like our memories of happy hour darkness and freezing malaise disappear as soon as the temperature reaches 75, so too do our memories of just what exactly we wore to the office last year.

This issue is even more complicated for women, when the appropriate shoulder and calf coverage can mean the difference between life and death – between a promotion and a decrepit senior executive calling you sweetheart. 

Below you’ll find a brief overview of several #ootds and fashion types you may encounter in the wild, and some items to consider should you choose to adopt one as your own.

Iron Deficient Deborah

Long pants, long sleeves, a sweater long enough to drape over your arms as you cup a mug of hot coffee to your chest and complain about the office AC. While you can’t go wrong with more body coverage, everyone will be sick of seeing you shiver (whether for real or for attention). Please, just use one of those Summer Fridays to get some blood work done.

It’s 95 out there is zero chance you’re actually this cold

Tragically Consistent

You’ve eaten cold cereal and coffee for breakfast every day since age 12. Every night, you watch exactly 53 minutes of the same Netflix comedy special before falling asleep next to the person you’ve been dating for four years. Every Saturday, you drink the same beer with your high school friends. And every morning, you put on the same button up and pair of pants, regardless of the weather. You’re basically Steve Jobs, if Steve Jobs had a pinched nerve and worked in sales.

Clearly Reads the Out of Date Women’s Fashion Magazine in Your Dentist’s Waiting Room

Unless you literally work for a women’s fashion magazine, there is zero reason why you should take style advice from them, ever. That is a recipe for the Gen Z TikTok intern to point and laugh while you stew over how no one can see how cool you still are. 

To give you an idea of what we’re working with, here is a selection of the absolute horseshit “Summer Work Outfit Ideas” Harper’s Bazaar has recommended this year: 

  1. Leather shorts: As if my ass wasn’t sweaty enough. Also, see below: HR Violation.
  2. Color blocking: It’s giving Forever 21 in 2013. What’s next, sneaker wedges?
  3. Crop top: I ate five hot dogs on Sunday and am ready to shrivel up like a raisin like if anyone even thinks about perceiving my physical form. No.
  4. Shirtdress: We often focus too much on if we can do something that we forget to ask if we should. Shirtdresses combine the worst of mens and womenswear to create something that we all hate regardless of gender. 60-year-old Suzanne will ask where your pants are. Now everyone is upset.
  5. Black mask: Continued pandemic caution is not the reason why this item is on the shit list. It’s because the mask that was recommended in the article cost thirty-nine dollars when I could get a regular one for free from the hot receptionist at the front desk.
Let’s just stick with one of the other ok?

Thinks They Belong Somewhere in Northern Italy

Imagine, if you will, Armie Hammer’s fit in Call Me By Your Name: A billowy white top, unbuttoned below the collarbone, paired with shorts that hit perfectly above the knee, sunglasses, and white sneakers. It’s the perfect balance between casual Silicon Valley bro and Italian Casanova. 

Except this kind of outfit just reminds you that you only have two weeks off a year instead of the entire month of August. And your supply chain management is all fucked up because your Italian contractor has threatened to beat you to death with a crowbar if you dare email them during the summer holidays, as is custom in Europe. To top it off, you can’t even enjoy a nice wine during work hours. What the hell kind of country are we living in, anyway? And didn’t Armie Hammer have that whole cannibal scandal thing? This sucks.

It realllyyyy sucks that he was eating people

The Weekend Warrior

This guy might be a little more industry-specific, but there’s always one in the office. As if you couldn’t already tell from his defined calves and muscular forearms, this guy likes to be outside. Not only does he bike to work, but he spends his time outside of work camping, white water rafting, hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, and winning his first Ironman in the deserts of Utah. All in one weekend! 

How did you know this, besides him bringing it up at every opportunity? Because you can see the stark tan line outline of his Garmin on his wrist, and he’s wearing some kind of ultralight $300 UV-ray-proof sweatshirt from REI. Whether you hate him or want to be him, you can’t deny he has style.

Inappropriate IRL, but it’s Zoom, so like, it’s probably fine?

Spaghetti straps? Muscle tee? Whatever it is, there’s something just a tad too sensual about exposing your upper forearm. Maybe it’s the intimacy of revealing the fading tattoo you got when you studied abroad junior year. Maybe it’s the sly glimpse of – gasp – clavicle when you reach up to adjust your screen. Whatever it is, everyone in the Zoom call is either disapproving or secretly mesmerized. Which one depends on how hot you are and the demographics of your office. 

bad boy alert

Has Zero Boundaries

This is the outfit for when you have mentioned your upcoming vacation in at least 10 separate meetings and yet have still been roped into taking a call while very clearly on vacation. A sun hat, shawl draped over your shoulders, sunglasses to hide your hangover, audible pool splashing in the background. This can easily be mistaken for the “Bad Bitch Digital Nomad” outfit, but we all know you are just a lowly entry-level sucka who is wasting your PTO. Do better.

The Walking HR Violation

Cons: Losing your job, possibly arrested.

Pros: It’s hot as hell, and you hate this place for sucking away the sexiest years of your life. Be free, my sweet summer child, and run naked through the halls.

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