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An example of a VERY casual Friday on "The Office"

It’s officially summertime in the Valley. It’s hot, we’re breaking a sweat walking from door to door, and the A.C. in our car always takes too long to kick in. On the weekends, it’s all about sundresses and bathing suits, but what about Monday through Friday? How hot it too hot? When are you supposed to ditch the hot pants and switch to a more conservative look while still trying to keep your cool at work?

This may not be an issue in other states, but in Arizona, it certainly is. Sure, you are told by your HR department or supervisors to just use your better judgment when deciding on what to wear for the day, but when the temps far exceed 100 on a daily basis, sometimes your better judgment goes missing.

While it is likely that you are not required to wear a uniform to the office and with no official dress code in place, how are you supposed to decide what is okay to wear? Shayna H. Balch, an attorney with Fisher & Phillips Phoenix office, a client, offers the following suggestions on how to dress appropriately at work during these scorching summer months.

Take it away, Shayna…

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • What kind of working environment am I hoping to achieve? Based on this answer, perhaps a casual summer dress code IS in order.
  • What has been the practice within our area and industry? Don’t reinvent the wheel, what works for others in your industry will most likely work for your business.
  • Is there any risk of implementing a policy that alienates employees? Always be respectful of employees to ensure they respect the policies of the organization right back.
  • How big an issue is this among employees to begin with?
  • Where am I prepared to draw the line, and what steps am I prepared to take to enforce it? Always make a plan before jumping into any new policy.
  • What is the most effective way to communicate our standards to employees? Have fun with this – try to get away from an interoffice memo and call for a summer breakfast meeting or mid-day iced coffee talk to communicate any new policy.
  • Are we prepared to live with any internal dress code guidelines, and have they been reviewed lately?

Answering honestly to these questions can save your employees from some embarrassment and awkward looks at the water cooler. Try to implement a look that is comfortable, yet still presentable if a client were to make a surprise appearance at the office. If you can successfully follow these guidelines, you are well on your way to keeping your cool while still looking stylish and professional this summer.

Brittany Richardson
Brittany Richardson
A former HMA Public Relations employee.


  1. Alison Bailin says:

    For me, I am good with proper dress code in the summer. It is more on a Friday in the winter when my hoddy sweatshirts are calling my name that I have the issue. That is pretty much the exact opposite of hot pants though!

  2. All this makes me think about is the SNL skit where Will Ferrell takes casual Friday to a whole new level. He walked into the staff meeting wearing an American flag speedo and midriff bearing top. So funny.

  3. I still like “Shorts Friday” on a 110-degree day, provided there are no client meetings, etc.

  4. Stephanie Lough says:

    I think that tailored shorts (not denim!) can still look professional. Work pants are so suffocating and I can’t bring myself to wear Bermudas or capris. Sometimes the fit is more important than the actual style – something too big can look sloppy and less professional even if it covers more than something fitted.

  5. Stephanie Lough says:

    Oh and Brittany, that skit is awesome. None of the cast could keep it together during that one!

  6. Sandra says:

    My school district tried to enforce a dress code but it didn’t work. The language now states to dress professionally according to your subject. That means that I shouldn’t be wearing a sundress when I am teaching physical education and you shouldn’t be wearing shorts when you are a classroom teacher. It is up to the principal to decide whether or not a teacher looks “professional” and most won’t touch that subject with a 10 foot pole. Great story.

  7. And, the clothes are often dictated by the client. A suit on a construction site doesn’t work, but is appropriate for meeting with the bankers and lawyers.

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