Office Rules: How To Do Summer Casual The Right Way


Maria Sharapova is shaking things up, tearing off her clothes and taking to the court.

Wimbledon kicked off Monday morning, and the All England Club is buzzing over the 2004 Champion’s choice of designer duds. Sharapova arrived on court one Tuesday in a cream-tuxedo style jacket and long white pants, looking more apt to meet the Queen than play a first round match. But she quickly stripped, unveiling a simple white vest and shorts. "I'm going with the traditional shorts, believe it or not," the number two ranked player laughed. "I've never worn shorts at a Grand Slam…Call it menswear, obviously. It's kind of like a tuxedo look, very simple lines, classic."

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She’s come a long way from the diamond encrusted shoes she donned in previous years, and there’s no better time than summer to embrace a more casual dress code. But dress casual or not, Sharapova knows how to maintain professional decorum when she's at work, and so should you.

As the mercury starts to boil, so does the desire to ditch heavy office outfits in favor of lighter colors and fabrics. Just make sure you keep it professional. Shorts might be right for Sharapova, but they’re definitely wrong for the office (unless you're a tennis pro). “Skirts give you more power than pants,” says Sandy Dumont, a Norfolk, Va., image consultant. “Skin tight shirts, shrunken jackets and sexy shirts are a dead giveaway you just got out of school. That is not the look for an office.” If you do opt for a skirt, make sure you’ve got the right footwear to go with it. “Do not wear dirty walking shoes. We call those pants shoes with that high tongue in the front and if you wear them with a skirt you look like a menial laborer,” says Dumont. “They’re clunky and you’ll be judged that way.”

Cool summer office wear, favor light summer dresses, with short sleeve blouses and sophisticated sandals. “Under no circumstances does hot weather give you carte blanche to show bra straps, cleavage or un-manicured feet,” says Lauren Kraines, a Los Angeles, Calif. based stylist. “You are in an office, not at the beach, and you should act as such.”

Summer hues can keep you cool, but chose with care. “The light green suits men like to wear, they’re not very authoritative, and not the high powered boardroom look,” says Dumont. “The most formal shirt is white. Oxford is a lighter shade that’s classy, while a French blue is a little darker and an old money color.” But just like light green is a fashion faux-pas, so is dark blue. “That looks like a gangster shirt,” says Dumont. “And the so-called fashion shirt, with a purple shirt and coordinated tie says shoe salesman and McDonald’s (MCD) worker.” Ouch.

At least there is one way you can keep your summer look from skewing too casual, and it doesn’t cost a thing. “You don’t have to pay a penny for posture,” says Dumont. “Stand tall like there is a string from the top of your head and let your arms dangle. You’re standing perfectly tall and you’re raised because your tummy is raised. It says class.”

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