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Hi all,

I'm a fairly new manager at a university.   The dress among my peers and directs is fairly casual....polos and dockers are the norm.  However, the dress among my superiors is often much nicer:  dress pants, dress shoes, button-down shirt, and often a tie.  I've noticed that when they meet amongst themselves suits are often in order.

I would like to start dressing nicer at work.  Not neccessarily a suit and tie every day, but I want to communicate that I am a professional.

The difficulty is that my university is along the Gulf Coast and it often quite hot and humid around here.  High today was 89.  I sweat quite easily.....I've even taken to wearing moisture-wicking golf polo shirts at work.

When I am shopping for more professional attire, what are some fabrics or other things I should look for to keep my wardrobe cooler?

--Michael

bug_girl's picture

I'm guessing that you're a dude, so your options may be more limited than mine :)

One of the first and best purchases I made when I started working was a black pin-stripe linen suit. It's still hot, but not *as* hot.

You can also look at some travel clothing (travelsmith.com, I think?) that has more breathable/wicking clothing.  Those also can be helpful.

Simply having a tie and nice shirt on in very hot weather counts around here as close enough :)

David Buck's picture

I have a fabulous Brooks Brothers (hope the advertising is acceptable on the forum) half-lined lounge suit that works very well for me here. It wasn't cheap, mind you but i'm in Eastern China and summer temps peak around 43 C (110 F) and it's very humid.  I've survived standing in the full sun half an hour for a photocall with no problem at all in that.

Other piece of advice - I regularly see people that sweat a lot in pale blue shirts with nice dark blue underarms. I only buy cotton shirts which are predominantly white with thin strips or pattern so that any sweating is barely noticeable (at least in comparison to wearing blue).

TBrashears's picture

As a former men's wear sales person (in college) I'd offer the following:

a. Wear an undershirt. I know this sounds counter intuitive but it absorbs sweat and keep you cooler. Try it and see.

b. Stay with all cotton clothing. If you're shirts are laudered get "no starch" for the summer.

c. Pants and suits should be of a lighter wool--super 120's or a tropical wool (the best tropical weave is a fresco). Stay away from a gaberdine--it's too heavy.

d. Consider a poplin suit. These are cheap and can be picked up anywhere from Nordstrom, Brooks Brothers, Polo, or Land's End, etc. The poplin is either all cotton or a cotton/poly blend. I like the all cotton best.

e. Regarding shirt color: I agree with David above regarding blue showing sweat, although the sweat marks are lessened with the undershirt.

Cheers!

tviemont's picture

I work in the South and ALWAYS wear a suit to meetings.  The above advice is excellent.  Wear an undershirt for sure.  When it's really hot a tank top type undershirt can be cooler. 

I own a poplin suit which I wear a lot in the Summer.  The only issue with poplin is that it wrinkles easily.  I hang my suit pants up as soon as I get home, so that plus a steam gets the wrinkles out.  I love my super 120s suit.  It's a Brooks Brothers BrooksCool suit.  Be aware their navy blue is pretty much black.  If I was in the sun a lot, black would be my last choice...

Finally, one of the many benefits of being a Northerner in the South is being able to wear a Seersucker suit for business.  I love Seersucker.  It's traditional, cheap, quirky and cooling to wear.  Don't get me wrong - when I have a serious meeting/presentation in front of the big hitters in an organization, the Seersucker is in my closet, but for a Friday afternoon meeting or in front of a customer I know well, I'll rock the Seersucker and white Bucks.  I'm a high D and I think it softens me. 

It may help to pick a role model after a fashion.  Find the leader whom you truly respect and would like to emulate and take some cues from what he's wearing.  Don't dress like him (or her), but look at colors and patterns he (or she) wears together. 

For a good read with lots of pretty pictures, I like Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion by Alan J. Flusser

Jrlz's picture

I agree with the recommendations above and would highly recommend a white dress up shirt with a white undershirt. The sweat will not show up as easily.   If it is a particularly hot and humid day consider bringing and extra shirt and/or undershirt.  I too sweat easily and have brought an extra undershirt to work.  This way half way through the day I can change my damp undershirt to a nice dry one, it help immensly.