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Men’s Business Style: Dressing for the Sweltering Heat

Here in Florida, summers come early, stay long, and get hot! We Orlando locals know that dressing for business means choosing the right fabrics, textures, and colors. Let our know-how go to work for you!

Choosing Colors

  1. Avoid light blue. We all know light colors reflect light and keep you cooler than darks. But did you know light blue fabric shows perspiration the most? Yikes! Even if that sky blue polo highlights your eyes, you may want to skip it when it’s particularly hot and humid outside.
  2. Ditch the white undershirt. When you’re dealing with weeks of 90 percent humidity, the first order of the day is to prepare for perspiration.If you’re required to wear suits or dressier shirts, choose an undershirt with sleeves in a sophisticated grey. Tank top-style undershirts may seem like they’d be cooler, but there’s less fabric to absorb sweat. Even under white shirts, the grey blends better than the typical bright white undershirt.On the other hand, moisture-wicking material is a Florida businessperson’s best friend. Dri-FIT polos in long sleeve or short sleeve look great alone or with a light jacket. Moisture-wicking polos also cut out the need for an undershirt!

Choosing Fabrics

  1. Choose natural fabric (or natural-synthetic blends) with a good weave. The image of the Southern gentleman in a seersucker suit is iconic. The reason seersucker works so well in the Southern heat is because it is a highly textured, natural-fiber material. Both of these qualities make the material breathe.Loose weaves don’t trap heat because the texture creates pockets of air that keep the fabric from laying flush on the skin. That’s why weaves like poplin, seersucker, madras, linen, hopsack, and oxford work so well in summer. Most have a distinctive look and can wrinkle, though, which may not be appropriate for everyone. Business apparel in these materials can also get expensive. Of course, you still want to look for a good fabric-weave combo for the summer. Synthetic-knit, moisture-wicking materials combine the best of both worlds. If your company allows business casual, then moisture-wicking polos are hands-down the most comfortable and versatile choice. Remember, when choosing synthetic blends, choose materials that are specifically engineered to be moisture-wicking and breathable. Regular synthetic fibers like polyester and rayon are plastic-like. They may be lightweight, but they are like saunas in the summer.
  2. Not all cotton is breathable. When you live in a climate like Orlando’s, you learn quickly which all-cotton t-shirts work in the heat and which don’t. A simple natural material isn’t enough. It must be combined with a good weave. A tightly woven, 100% cotton shirt may seem like a good choice, but the weave is holding heat and humidity against your skin. Instead, look for:
    • Finer threads — how silky does it feel?
    • Looser weaves – how much light does it let in?
    • Porous material – how light is the material?
  3. A loose fit provides some sun protection. Sometimes, it’s more comfortable to wear loose sleeves and long pants than shorts and a tee. That’s because shorts and other skin-revealing items are letting sunlight hit the skin. The direct heat will take its toll on your comfort and health whether you’re wearing sunscreen or not (we hope you are). The easiest outfit isn’t always the safest or comfortable option.Looking professional in the summer doesn’t have to mean throwing off the layers and sweating it out. It’s not about wearing cotton all the time or about keeping as much fabric off your body as possible.Smart summer style is about choosing the right lightweight fabrics and just-loose-enough fit while keeping your personal style in mind. Getting the look right, after all, is another important aspect of being a businessperson.