What To Wear When It's Hot Outside But Freezing In Your Office

Making yourself get up and go to work on any given day is a difficult task. Making yourself get up and go to work when it’s PRIME tanning weather outside (omg UV 9 today?!) is even harder. And, as if these problems weren’t enough reason to fake sick, summer also introduces the dilemma of what to wear to work when it’s 100 degrees outside and -30 degrees in your office. As my dad would say, it’s like whoever controls my office thermostat has stock in the electric company. So how the hell do you dress for such extremes???

You’ve heard it repeatedly your whole life, and now I’m telling you again: layers. Of course, layering for the office specifically is a bit more challenging because you actually have to look professional and not like the Abominable Snowman. Here are some key pieces necessary for layering appropriately along with a proper formula to ensure you’re doing so effectively. 

Start with…

1. Business Professional Tank

A business profesh tank is an essential for your work wardrobe. This tank will serve as the base layer for most of your work outfits, so I recommend purchasing one in a  neutral color. Even though you’ll most likely be adding a layer on top of your tank, it’s important to make sure that the tank alone is appropriate so that there won’t be an HR complaint in the event you need to take your jacket off. Always wear a cami under your tank in order to prevent any sweat from your commute from coming in direct contact with the tank itself. You don’t want, like, noticeable sweat stains. Gross.

Ark & Co Scallop Detail tank

Then add…

2. Lightweight Cardigan

You’ll want to have a thin, lightweight open cardigan that you can toss on when you’re ~slightly chilled~ or to use as an additional thin layer under a jacket when it’s just that freezing. You don’t want a cardigan that’s too chunky, heavy knit, or otherwise “wintery” because you’ll look like an overdramatic millennial. In general, girls tend to be a lot colder than our male counterparts, so just be aware that even though you have icicles forming on your nose,  60-year-old overweight Gary next to you is probs sweating through his polo. Always be sure to leave a lightweight cardigan at your desk that stays at the office. You never know when you might forget yours at home that day or just decide to donate it to a homeless person on the way in that morning (aka you left it on the subway).

Vince Lettuce Edge cardigan

If you’re still cold, add…

3. Knit Blazer

A knit blazer is the perfect summer alternative to your traditional, heavier weight blazer. Knit blazers look just as professional as your classic blazer but will be much more comfortable during the summer season. Unlike your traditional blazer, a knit style won’t make you feel like you’re trapped in one of those infrared sauna suits if you start sweating. Buy your knit blazer a size larger so, need be, you can wear it over your tank and lightweight cardigan when Karen decides turns down the thermostat again cause she’s in menopause.

BCBGeneration Welt Pocket Tuxedo blazer

Or you can wear…

4. Drape Jacket or Vest

Drape style jackets look professional because the minimal structure of the jacket makes them look more polished than, say, your bomber jacket. A drape jacket, like a knit blazer, is something you could wear as a third layer for when it’s just that freezing. Another alternative is a lightweight drape vest, which will give you an added layer of warmth but with less constriction in the arms.

Blank NYC Ivory Vegan Ponte Drape jacket


BB Dakota Adam vest

And if you’re still freezing…

5. Duster

Dusters are very on-trend right now and make the perfect office wardrobe staple, particularly for when you’re wearing a dress or skirt. The long length of a duster means there’s extra fabric to cover your legs when you’re shivering at your desk. Just make sure that if you do go the duster route, you pick one suitable for indoors. You don’t want people to confuse you with Sherlock Holmes every time you get up and go to the copier machine.

Topshop Lightweight duster coat

Obviously this isn’t an exact, fail-proof formula, so use your own best judgement to avoid looking like a crazy person. When all else fails, and your office is actually just that cold, try layering a super thin long sleeve tee or a pair of thick tights underneath what you’re already wearing. And, if that doesn’t work, then maybe just quit.

Images: Demetrius Washington / Unsplash; @mydaywasworsethanyours / Giphy; South Moon Under (2); Revolve (2); BCBGeneration; Topshop

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Shannon McCormick
Shannon McCormick
Shannon McCormick (previously under the alias of 'Betch Dressed') is a self-proclaimed fashion expert with a sick obsession for all things Bravo. She primarily writes about everything fashion, but also dabbles in other areas because she's a talented overachieving Virgo. Follow her on Insta (@shanmccormick) and comment/DM topics you want to hear her incredible take on next!