STYLE MATTERS: What the well-dressed sweaty professional wears to the office - Colorado Politics

STYLE MATTERS: What the well-dressed sweaty professional wears to the office

Author: Judie Schwartz - July 27, 2012 - Updated: July 27, 2012

The heat is unbearable, I will grant you that. But it’s no reason for stylish readers to sacrifice their professional dress standards. If nothing else, think of your colleagues. Who wants to sit next to someone with Lake Michigan size armpit sweat stains or have to hold up their iPads in a vain attempt to block the odors of a deodorant that has long ago waved the white flag. It’s possible to look good even while the temperatures climb.

On a hot Thursday in July Style Matters wandered downtown observing how Denver city slickers dress for the heat. Here’s what we saw and here are some helpful tips.

Friends John Bryan and Sabrina Anderson are a perfectly dressed pair. Bryan works at a valet company and Anderson is employed at the restaurant Euclid Hall. Both have chosen casual outfits that still look professional. (By the way, that’s a 1986 Univega bicycle that Bryan is riding.)

Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman

Style Matters Hot Weather Dress Tips

1. Foot gear: Some people, and you know who you are, have relegated their work footwear to flip-flops during the hot summer months. Flip flops belong in the shower, pool or front yard; not at your desk. It is quite acceptable to wear open-toe shoes or sling-back styles in the midst of a heat wave. Just make sure that those sling-backs don’t go click click click every time you take a step. This sound will drive your boss and co-workers insane. Hot weather makes people cranky.

Jeannett David works for the Governor’s office in information technology. She keeps cool by dressing in layers. With the jacket on, David epitomizes a summer business casual look. Removing her jacket, she is more relaxed and ready to beat the heat. Love the pop of color that the yellow handbag gives her outfit.

Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman

Style Matters Tip: With apologies to Paul Simon and the diamonds on the soles of his shoes, try spraying hair spray on the inner soles of your shoes. Although a tad sticky, the spray does keep your feet in place and helps eliminate that irritating clicking sound.

Dave DeNovellis sports a business casual look for his research work at Legislative Council by wearing a long sleeve shirt and gray Dockers.

Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman

2. Blisters: Blisters tend to pop up more during the hot summer months. That’s because so many people wear shoes with no foot coverings, e.g. peds, socks, etc… To prevent blisters from forming, spray feet with Flexitol Blistop, especially the backs of the heels where blisters tend to form first. This magic potion does a decent job of protecting the feet. Spray it on the blister-prone areas of your feet every few hours. I keep a can in my car. Price: $5.24 Walmart or

Graphic designer Antoinette Williams pairs a ruffled top with a long paisley skirt. The ruffles are just ruffly enough to be trendy but not too cutesy.

Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman

3. It’s No Secret: I am not one for scented anti-perspirants, even though I grew up on Secret. The secret of Secret is that it doesn’t do a very good job of minimizing perspiration or eliminating odor. Enter two very effective and scentless deodorants that can take on our hot summers and win.

Joyce Arnold, community organizer for the Denver Institute of Urban Studies, keeps cool in a lightweight black and white pattern dress. “I bought six other dresses like this one at Walmart,” Arnold said — and she was smart to do so. They are perfect for the summer workplace.

Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman

Style Matters Tip: Dove Clinical Protection — Nothing gets through this Dove; in fact it’s a challenge to wash it off at the end of the day. $8.03 for a pack of two.

Douglas Close, former Capitol intern and now a program manager at Mile High United Way, goes for the full corporate look in a suit and tie. Why? He had a meeting in the Lt. Governor’s office, and his suit sends a message of professionalism and expertise.

Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman

If Dove doesn’t work, try Degree Clinical Protection with “motion activated freshness,” (Not a clue what that means). This product is so effective, it should require a medical prescription. $8.99 Walgreens

Kate Wieland, development director for Rocky Mountain Communities, pairs an Ann Taylor dress with a Coach handbag and kitten heel sandals for a total summer professional look. Wieland said, “I always wear some kind of a cover-up.” Smart lady.

Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman

4. Time for a trim: Hot summer days are the perfect time to experiment with shorter haircuts: Pick out some looks from fashion magazines and show them to your stylist. Add some highlights and you’re ready to go. Even if you don’t like the cut, by Labor Day your hair will have started to grow back. Hair grows faster in hot weather, doesn’t it?

Capitol tour guides Erin Northburg and Kendall Helelig show how it’s done. Northburg wears a khaki jacket and Helelig a white blouse to cover up their tank tops for a more professional look.

Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman

5. The “Unchie skirt”: Women tend to wear skirts when the temperature climbs. Unfortunately, so do their skirts and this often creates what Style Matters call the “Unchie skirt.” The Unchie skirt is a short, tight black skirt typically worn by young professional women. These women will walk a few steps, notice that their skirt is unching up to unacceptable levels, stop, pull down their skirts and resume walking. All too soon, the skirt unches up again. What you get is: Walk, unch, stop and pull. It must take these women hours to get anywhere and pity their poor companion who has to watch every unch.

Style Matters Tip: The Unchie skirt is really not for work. Adding leggings will only make you hotter. Better to wear a long loose skirt, dress or slacks. You will look more professional and feel cooler.

6. The blouse/sweater/blazer: Smart girls know that a jacket-like cover up conveys professionalism and expertise. It’s fine to wear a tank top to work. Just make sure you keep it under wraps while in the office.
Judie Schwartz, whose Style Matters columns appear in The Colorado Statesman, is the co-author of two best-selling books on the best places to shop in Colorado. Called “A Fashion-Lover’s Guide to the Best Shopping in Denver and Beyond,” the books are available at (On sale, 50% off, $8). Schwartz presents seminars on the importance of a professional image, shopping tips and fashion trends. She can be reached at:
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Judie Schwartz

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