For women, if wearing pantyhose with heels is just too hot for the office this summer, relax - just as summer office dress standards often do.
Don't get too casual, though, and decide your flip flops are probably OK at work. They're not, according to local employers and professional clothing retailers.
"We recommend no flip flops at the office, ever,'' said Cyndi Wilkins, manager of the ladies boutique at the Regiment Shops in Fort Collins.
Well-made sandals and open-toe shoes are OK for work, but it's best to check the company dress policy before shedding hose, said Betsy Thompson, fashion spokeswoman for Talbot's.
Some women wear no hose, year-round, and pull it off professionally. Fishnets are a fun look that are back in vogue but might be a distraction, not to mention a hassle, at work.
"They get caught on things,'' Thompson said. "Consider the practical, and maybe slip them on after work, instead, for an evening out."
In the revealing months of summer, as Thompson puts it, confusion abounds in what to wear.
"To advance your career, dress appropriately,'' she said. "A lot of companies ease up in summer, but if it has sat in sand, don't wear it. No beach attire, please."
Wilkin said: "Comfort and modesty must work hand in hand. If you are in doubt if it's modest enough, leave it out of the office.''
As for women's tops, showing major cleavage is risky business.
"If it is too tight or too revealing, it can call attention to things that have nothing to do with your competence at work,'' Thompson said. "Be sensitive to things that detract from the great job you are doing."
A camisole top with spaghetti straps can still be worn at work. Just be sure you have a jacket or another layered shirt over it, Thompson said. Layering is comfortable and forgiving. While the temperature is scorching outdoors, the air conditioning at work may call for a cardigan or jacket to keep comfortable.
Thompson said women should have a great jacket to throw on to go out and meet clients and men should have a great white shirt around at work.
While your company may have "casual Fridays," your clients' office may not.
"It is not a bad idea to be familiar with vendors' dress codes," Thompson said.
It's fine to mix and match weekend wardrobe items with the work week. Thompson said that suit separates can be mixed, dressed up or down, showing vintage touches or the eclectic look and are a good way to get more out of your closet.
Crop pants and capris are ideal for summer, but hold the cargo pants.
"Capris with cargo pockets are too casual,'' Wilkins said. "The longer dress shorts and gauchos are great for summer."
Employers in Fort Collins agree with the retailers' perspective. At Fort Collins Mortgage, the summer dress code relaxes a bit.
"We change to casual business dress, meaning no jeans, flip flops or shorts,'' said Jim Hinojos of Fort Collins Mortgage. "Girls wear dresses or slacks, and guys can go without ties. Jeans are OK for Fridays. We have had to give warnings about attire, referring them to our written policy, with a reprimand."
Hewlett-Packard does not have a specific dress code, but offices are typically business casual to casual.
Ed Woodard, corporate media relations director at HP, said that in areas that don't come face to face with the public, shorts may be worn. However, he added that in all cases, appropriateness or safety concerns are first and foremost.
Jane Landwehr of Allstate Insurance in Fort Collins said she comes from a background in banking where dress was a problem.
"Rule No. 1: Don't show your navel,'' she said. "Too tight and too low is a no-no."
Ron Wagner, manager of the Regiment Shops for men in Fort Collins, said flip flops and tennis shoes in a professional office are never appropriate but that nice leather sandals on the dressier side are possible, but pushing it for men.
"We recommend dressy, the whole year-round, whether a banker or in real estate,'' he said. "Maybe not a coat and tie in the heat, but have a tailored shirt on. It could be lightweight linen, silk or other material with good construction.''
He added that collars are good and short-sleeved shirts like a Tommy Bahama is always nice with a dress-type pant.
For the younger professional man, there are many updated fabrics and colors available, Wagner said.
The transition from slacks to shorts and sandals is a big jump for men's attire at work.
"In men's summer clothing choices, proceed with caution with shorts or sandals," Thompson said. "Use your eyes. See if anyone else is wearing shorts.''
While a woman can wear a longer dress short with a jacket and high heels and look very stylish, it is different for a man, Thompson said.
"It's like he's gone to a real weekend look,'' Thompson said. "Co-workers will wonder if he is leaving early to go play golf."
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