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THE sun is blazing, the sky is blue – and you re trapped in a pair of too-tight polyester trousers! And the faded flip-flops which complete your outfit aren t doing much to improve the stylishly summery meets efficiently businesslike look you were aimin
THE sun is blazing, the sky is blue - and you're trapped in a pair of too-tight polyester trousers!
And the faded flip-flops which complete your outfit aren't doing much to improve the 'stylishly summery meets efficiently businesslike' look you were aiming for.
With 51 per cent of UK women saying they believe their appearance makes a difference at work, according to a Top Sante magazine survey, it's important to get it right.
Dr Sara Connolly, lecturer in economics at East Anglia University, says research shows that appearance does matter for both men and women in the workplace.
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"It's not the case that good-looking people get where they are without having other skills - but maybe they are more confident and have better social skills," she says.
"It's more to do with looking good and being confident than looking handsome or like a supermodel."
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Maintaining a polished and professional image in soaring summer temperatures might seem an impossible task, but the experts say it can be done.
Stylist Ceril Campbell of redcarpetglamour.com says many people make the mistake of blending summer holiday-style clothes with their usual workwear - with disastrous results.
Looking like you've switched a sun lounger for a swivel chair can undermine your professional image and affect your performance.
"You have to give off some kind of authority. Even if you're working on the till in a shop, you've got to look like you know what you're doing," she says.
WHAT NOT TO WEAR:
"The worst mistake is 'letting it all hang out'," says Ceril Campbell.
"It's always the people with the worst figures that do it. Being cool in summer is not about undressing. You absolutely don't want to look like you've come off the beach."
She says we need to be more like our chic Continental neighbours and choose smart, simple summer clothes.
"The Europeans are always dressed for town, they go for a look that's more tailored."
Amanda Slader, chief fashion adviser for John Lewis, agrees it's important to dress appropriately.
"It all depends on what you're doing in your day. If you work in a relaxed atmosphere it will be a lot easier than if you have to look more formal."
But she says flashing bare flesh should be avoided if you want to maintain the respect of your colleagues.
"It gets hot and we all strip off, but it doesn't look nice or appropriate. Bear in mind your workplace and the people you work with."
Tight clothes are another no-no.
"If you're having a fat day, don't struggle into a tight dress, especially if you've got an important meeting or an interview. If it's hot you don't want to be worrying about your tummy control knickers."
KEEPING YOUR STYLE COOL:
Natural fibres and loose, but not floppy clothes will help you beat the heat in style, says Ceril Campbell.
"Cotton is good, silk is very cool, but stay away from pure linen. Most people think of wearing it in the summer but it's not good to wear for the office unless it's a linen mix because it crushes. You don't want to look like you're wearing your pyjamas."
She says the key to a cool summer work wardrobe is taking something fashionable and turning it into a sharp look.
"There's nothing wrong with a pretty pair of sandals, but if your job allows you to wear flip flops, wear leather ones, not rubber.
"Spaghetti string tops and bra straps are not acceptable for work - neither is no bra - but you can wear a crossover or vest-style top."
She recommends thinking carefully before you slide into any other skimpy attire.
"Few very people can wear cropped trousers and very, very few people can wear crop tops. If your legs aren't the best, bare your arms, or vice versa, not both."
Colour can make a big difference to your summer state of mind, Amanda Slader adds.
"Instead of wearing blacks and browns, there are some lovely light pastel colours or blues and turquoises which make you feel much more summery."
SUITS YOU SIR?:
It might be tricky for women but dressing professionally during the summer can be a minefield for men too.
Rather than swelter in a stuffy winter suit, Ceril Campbell suggests looking for a thin, lightweight suit designed to breathe in hot weather.
If you can dress more casually, chinos and a thin cotton or linen shirt will always look smart.
"But you don't want the Italian stallion look. It's not good to see men's nipples or hairy chests through a thin shirt," she warns.
Finding suitable footwear can be another problem - men can't wear sandals with suits and she insists they should 'absolutely never wear sandals with socks'.
"Loafers are much cooler, in every sense of the word, without socks," she explains.
If it's really blistering outside and you face a long commute, Ceril Campbell recommends travelling to work in a different set of clothes.
"Get changed when you get there so you don't arrive mauled. It's the travel that mangles you."
BEAT THE HEAT - Ceril Campbell's guide
# Swap sweaty manmade fabrics for natural fibres.
# Simple tailored pieces will keep you looking smart.
# Dress appropriately for your workplace - no spaghetti strap tops, super-short skirts or rubber flip-flops.
# Wear less makeup and tie back long hair.
# Carry deodorant, wet wipes and Evian spray in your handbag.
LOOK COOL - Amanda Slader's tips
# If you want to wear linen, be relaxed about the fact it crushes.
# Flesh-coloured underwear is a must under light-coloured clothing.
# Choose loose over tight.
# Get a pedicure and make the most of the stylish summer sandals in fashion. If you must wear heels to work, wear flat shoes and change into heels when you get there.
# To book a session with a John Lewis fashion adviser, visit your local branch or phone 0845 604 904.