In case you somehow haven’t noticed, it is hot outside. Some sources are even claiming that it has been the hottest July in the UK in over 17 years. With the temperature hitting over 30C we've had candidates contacting us with genuine worry that they will be too warm to dress formally for an interview.
Even the most charismatic person in the room is going to struggle to make a good impression when they’re distracted by how uncomfortably hot their suit is making them feel.
Because of this, we have written a simple guide on how to dress professionally while beating the heat:
Interview dress code tips when it’s hot outside:
The biggest thing to consider when picking out your Summer interview outfit is fabric. A standard polyester suit is simply not breathable enough for the Summer months and will leave all the warm air hanging around, essentially becoming a fabric sauna. Luckily, most reasonable employers will give some leeway in the Summertime, so you can make use of some slightly less professional, but much more breathable fabrics like cotton or merino.
Another aspect to take into consideration is fit. Looser cuts allow air to circulate under the outfit and stop the perspiration-soaked fabric from clinging to your body. While this is a more obvious tip for women, who have a wider range of options at their disposal, men can also benefit by switching from a trendy skinny fit suit to a traditional, classic cut piece.
One of the biggest complaints women have about dress codes is that they can be dauntingly open compared to the choice between a black or grey suit that most men face. This can be a huge advantage when it comes to picking out a Summer interview outfit, however.
Whilst a dress may seem like the easiest way to keep cool during your interview, there are a lot of factors to consider when picking one out. It’s important to remember that this is still a professional appointment.
A good rule of thumb when picking out a dress or a skirt for work is to make sure that it falls just above the knees or lower. At the same time, however, be careful when considering a maxi dress, the flowing fit could be too casual for an interview.
A good way of keeping the heat away while maintaining a professional look is to go for individual items. This way you can go for something cool on the bottom, like culottes or a pleated midi skirt, and smarten up the look with a more formal top.
Top-wise, a good option would be a smart sheer blouse over a base layer, such as a camisole or a tank top. This has the advantage of being much cooler than a single, thicker shirt while also making it look like you have put more thought into your outfit.
All-in-all, you need to look presentable, so if you find something that is comfortable and not too revealing, you should be good to go. You can also use the age-old tip of looking on the company’s website and seeing what the staff are wearing, then try and find a way to mimic the style in a more comfortable fashion.
The good news for men is that the level of choice is less overwhelming, however, this does give you less room to play around with the boundaries.
The best-case scenario is that the company you are applying for is quite casual and you could get away with a simple shirt. If this is the case, a good option would be a light cotton oxford shirt. A pale blue colour would be better than white as the idea that white reflects heat and keeps you cool is a common misunderstanding. While it is true that white reflects heat, it doesn’t only reflect it outward, it also reflects the heat inside back towards your body.
If you’re lucky, you may get away with not wearing a tie. In this case, it is usually best practice to leave your top button undone. If the company is casual enough your best option is to go for a looser fit collar, such as a grandad collar or a penny collar. If you must go for a more formal look, you should be fine with any kind of collar that isn’t button-down, as this needlessly restricts the neck without adding any formality.
When it comes to sleeves, the best advice is to steer clear of short sleeves in general, as they can make even the most mature man look as though he is on the way back from his GCSE Maths exam. Whether you can roll your sleeves up is a very tricky thing to pick up on. The best advice is to keep them down and turn up early if other people have theirs rolled, feel free to join in.
When it comes to trousers, chinos are your best friend in this weather. A tan pair looks great in a less formal office and helps you to stand out from the other candidates, whereas a black pair can be practically indistinguishable from smart trousers if you get the fit right.
If you are absolutely required to wear a suit, all is not lost. As with most Summer clothing, the fabric is key with a warm-weather suit. Avoid heavy cotton, wool, and anything made with man-made fibers such as polyester. Linen is the classic image of a Summer suit; however, these can be light and crease too easily to wear in a formal setting. For this reason, we recommend a linen blend, usually with cotton, in a classic cut. Leave the slim fit for the Winter months.