What to Wear to Work When It’s Hot – A Complete Guide

Dressing well for work when it's hot can feel impossible. We’ve built summer work outfits to keep you cool for 5 scenarios you're likely to find yourself in, no matter your office dress code.

For most of us, dealing with the summer heat in the workplace is unavoidable. Depending on your morning commute, you may get stuck in a crowded, hot subway, or work up an uncomfortable sweat on a bike ride, or get drenched on the walk from a distant parking lot to your office.

Heat is such a style challenge that we regularly get frustrated emails from guys asking what – if anything – they can do to look fresh and presentable at work when the mercury rises. For readers in southern states, the problem is particularly vexing.

No matter what you do or where you live the heat is always going to be an obstacle, but there are style choices we can make to minimize the heat’s damage to our day and our outfits.

What to Wear to Work When It's Hot   Men Hot Weather Summer Fashion

General Principles Of Hot Weather Work Wear

Don’t Wear More Fabric Than You Need

Keeping your clothes the right length and fit go a long way towards maintaining your comfort in the summer months. There’s no reason to carry any more material than you need. Keep your pants hemmed and your shirts form-fitting. When you need to dress up for a work presentation or an outdoor summer wedding, opt for lighter, unstructured blazers that keep you in line with the dress code, but also comfortable.

Read more: How to Dress Well Without Layers

Take Advantage of New Technology

You’ve probably heard that you should avoid dark colors in the heat, and that’s all well and good. Certainly don’t go walking around dressed in black from head to toe when the temperature hits triple digits. However, we should be focusing just as much, if not more, on the materials we wear instead of the colors.

Most menswear companies have made great strides in sartorial technology for the mobile man. There are options to keep you fresh all summer long.

Bonobos and Gap are among the brands that feature moisture-wicking technology, which helps pull moisture away from the body where it can evaporate more easily. Uniqlo produces a blazer with anti-microbial and anti-odor functionality, which helps to improve freshness, support hygiene and increase odor control. It’s advances like these that go a long way towards preserving our cool in the summer heat.

While the summer weather can often be a bear, don’t let it prevent you from looking your best. Here are some fresh, tech-savvy options for the workplace, so you can be both comfortable and stylish all summer.

Some brands to check out:

Client Meeting

Unconstructed Italian Wool Blazer – Bonobos, $400

Image of man wearing Bonobos Italian wool blazer

This unconstructed blazer from Bonobos is lighter than your traditional wool blazer without losing any of the craftsmanship and detailing that comes with a great Italian wool, which makes it perfect for an important meeting or presentation in the summer.

One might wince at first mention of a wool blazer for combating the summer heat, but wool absorbs and evaporates moisture better than most fabrics. Wool is also able to be woven less densely while still remaining presentable. This option is lightweight and doesn’t wrinkle like cotton or linen blazers which aren’t as good at combating the inevitable sweat that comes from layering on a summer day. It’s a great piece to invest in.

Standard Fit Deconstructed Chino Blazer – Target’s Goodfellow & Co., $39.99

Image of man wearing Goodfellow & Co. chino blazer

For a more affordable option, go for this deconstructed chino blazer from Target’s Goodfellow & Co. imprint. It’s a versatile piece from a line that’s always priced right. Check out Primer’s detailed breakdown of Goodfellow & Co.’s office staples and how you can go head-to-toe in affordable style.

Grant Slim-Fit SUPIMA Cotton Textured Shirt – Banana Republic, $49.50

banana republic hot weather supima dress shirt

Pair an unconstructed blazer with the Supima cotton dress shirt from Banana Republic. That superior cotton offers long-lasting durability and a more luxurious texture, while still managing to be more breathable. Add a tie or keep the collar open depending on the meeting.

Ludlow Slim-Fit Pant in Glen Plaid Cotton – J. Crew, $98 (plus 40% off)

Image of J.Crew Ludlow slim fit pant

The Ludlow Slim-fit pant is extremely versatile. You can pair it with a blazer or bring it back out in the fall and wear it with your favorite sweaters. It’s a breathable cotton and a slim cut, so don’t hesitate when looking for an affordable pair of dress pants this summer. Top the outfit off with these brown Dellbrook loafers from Banana Republic and your outfit is a can’t miss.

Dellbrook Italian Leather Loafer – Banana Republic,$148

Image of Banana Republic Dellbrooke Italian loafer for men

Client Meeting (Full Suit)

j.crew unstructured ludlow cotton suit gray men hot weather summer style

The J.Crew unstructured Ludlow suit jacket (30% off right now) and pants are available in stretch cotton (shown here) or a cotton-linen blend. Giving you a professional look with maximum hot weather comfort. Andrew finished the look with a short sleeve tech shirt from Mizzen+Main, loafers from Thursday Boots and this beautiful briefcase by WP Standard.

Ludlow Unstructured Suit Jacket and Pant – J.Crew, $168 (+30% off right now) and $98

Available in stretch cotton or cotton-linen.

Image of J.Crew Ludlow slim fit cotton linen suit jacket

If you’re looking for a more traditional head-to-toe suiting option, look no further than the Ludlow Unstructured suit from J.Crew, the perfect answer to those hot summer days.

The Ludlow blazer has been a perennial hit for J.Crew over the years, and now you can get that same versatile material as an entire suit. The suit pants are made from the same breathable cotton-linen and is cut slim. It’s one of the most versatile suits a guy can have and is a perfect affordable, breathable option for summertime.

Tech Button-Down Shirt – Bonobos, $118

Image of Bonobos tech button down shirtBonobos’ tech button-down is perfect to combat the summer heat. It’s moisture-wicking, quick drying and full of comfortable stretch. It’s also wrinkle-resistant, so don’t sweat having to layer up for that meeting in the dead of summer. Since the Ludlow suit is such a great buy, you should consider investing a little extra into your dress shirt. Leave the top button open or go air tie with this combination.

Business Casual

Summer Weight Chinos – Bonobos, $98

Image of Bonobos summer weight chinos

These summer weight chinos from Bonobos are the perfect all-purpose pant option for the summer. They are sharp and lightweight, ideal for any number of business functions in the summer months. Bonobos is one of the best at creating dressy summer options that are both stylish and functional, and these certainly do not disappoint.

Luxury Touch Contrast Color Polo – Banana Republic, $49.50

banana republic contrast polo

A form-fitting polo is essential to your summer work wardrobe. Forget about your basic solid polos with their little logos on the chest for a minute, and think outside the box. Opt for the contrast collar polo from Banana Republic. Its luxury-touch cotton gives you a soft feel and is more dressy than your typical polo shirt. It’s the perfect complement to these chinos for a day at the office. And if you’d like, pair it with some light grey denim and white sneakers if you want to dress up a more casual outfit.

We featured a similar contrast polo in our massive 15 Men's Style Summer Essentials guide.

Aldo Tralisien – Aldo, $110

Image of Aldo Tralisien loafer for menThe Aldo Tralisien is a great, versatile shoe to pair with this, as they can simultaneously punch up or dress down whatever outfit it attaches itself to.

Smart Casual

Wearlight Khakis in Slim-Fit with GapFlex – Gap, $60

gap wearlight khakis

Anything from the Wearlight line at Gap is a must for summer style. The durable fabric is engineered to have a lighter feel so it stays cool all year round. These denim chinos are no different. Like many of these other pieces, they are versatile, equally clean with a pair of loafers or sneakers, as well as with a t-shirt or a polo.

Slim-Fit Poplin Shirt – Old Navy, $15

man wearing gray poplin shirt

Dress it up with this affordable, slim-fit poplin button-down shirt from Old Navy in Grey. Poplin is a great summer material in that it’s both smooth and silky, as well as comfortable and light. And at $15, maybe you’ll want to stock up on some other colors to pair with the rest of your summer chinos.

Tech Cotton Crew Tee – Banana Republic, $34.50


banana republic tech teeOr dress it down with the tech cotton t-shirt from Banana Republic. It's anti-odor and moisture-wicking.

Tech Blazer – Bonobos, $400

Image of man wearing Bonobos tech blazer

The tech blazer from Bonobos is another great investment in their line of functional summer style picks. This breathable tech fabric with subtle stretch was sourced from Schoeller mills. It uses its 3XDRY Advanced Moisture Management technology, which absorbs and wicks away sweat keeping you cool and dry. It’s also water, stain and dirt repellant, perfect for your on-the-go lifestyle.

Kando Jacket – Uniqlo, $59.90

Image of man wearing Uniqlo Kando jacketFor a more affordable option, try the Kando Jacket from Uniqlo. It’s produced with a stretch fabric and a fast-drying DRY technology, and is lined with Airdots fabric with anti-microbial and anti-odor functionality.

Casual Creative

Wearlight Jeans in Skinny-Fit with GapFlex – Gap, $63

Image of man wearing Gap wearlight jeansFor casual Fridays at the office, dress it down with these light grey Wearlight jeans from Gap. They’re lighter and more flexible than your typical denim, and paired with this short-sleeve linen-cotton shirt in a light pink is a home run.

Short-Sleeve Shirt in Linen-Cotton – Gap, $49.95

linen cotton short sleeve shirt

This shirt is soft, breathable and lightweight, not to mention refreshing. Remember, it’s summertime, so don’t be afraid to brighten things up from time to time.

Aiden Slim Core Temp Pant – Banana Republic, $98

banana republic core temp pant

These Aiden slim pants from Banana Republic are engineered with 37.5 technology, designed to keep your body at the ideal core temperature in any weather. They are wrinkle-resistant and quick-drying, plus they have some added stretch for maximum comfort.

Pair it with one of BR’s Don’t Sweat It Polos and you have an affordable, comfortable outfit perfect for casual Friday followed by a quick trip to happy hour. The Don’t Sweat It Polos are moisture-wicking and anti-odor, so you should have no problem staying fresh all day with these options.

Don’t Sweat It Polo – Banana Republic, $37.99

dont sweat it polo

More summer style inspiration: Summer Style Inspiration Gallery

Accessories To Beat The Heat

Accessories need to be taken into account as well when crafting that daily outfit in the summer heat.

Jack Black Dry Down Friction Free Powder, 6 oz. – Amazon, $20.85

Image of Jack Black dry down friction free powder

There are plenty of body powder options you can consider, but this Dry Down Powder from Jack Black is ideal. Slightly more expensive than some of its competitors, the combination of lavender, green tea and cornstarch keeps you cool and refreshed all day, even when the heat doesn’t want to cooperate.

GapFit No-Sweat Boxer Briefs – Gap, $18

Image of GapFit boxer briefsThese sleek boxer briefs from Gap are moisture wicking, to help keep you cool and dry. They’re also made from a breathable jersey material which allows heat to escape faster. They are sleek and affordable and come in a variety of colors and patterns.

Performance No-Show Colorblock Socks – J.Crew, $10

Image of J.Crew mens socks

No-show socks are essential when dealing with summer footwear, especially if you like keeping your ankles exposed (as you should). There are plenty of great options out there, but this performance sock from J.Crew does the trick. They are woven from breathable cotton-nylon and moisture-wicking COOLMAX fibers, which help keep your feet dry and odor-free. A must-have when wearing loafers or low-top sneakers.

No-Show Showdown: See our full list of the best no-show socks for men. 

What are your summer style tricks for beating the heat? Share them below!

Stephen Albertini

Stephen Albertini is a freelance writer covering sports, fashion, music and culture. His work has been featured on a variety of outlets, including Grailed, Complex, Bleacher Report and Primer.