Ask Jeanne

ASK JEANNE Summer Solution

Dear Jeanne,
I spend time on my outfits, but 20 minutes after I get to work the air con kicks in and I cover up with the same old sweater I keep at my desk. How can I dress for the heat outside and chilly inside without hiding what I have painstakingly put together?


Dear Alexandra:


It’s interesting to note that the big chill at the office is the main complaint from workers these days. With all the advents in technology lately, you’d think they’d already have come up with some kind of “climate controlled” clothing—wardrobe pieces that would actually adjust to either your body temperature or the conditions you’re in. I’m sure scientists and designers are already working on that, but in the meantime, we style mongers will simply have to rely on the old layering method when it comes to looking stylish both indoors and out. Of course, important to start with a clean and simple base—an elegant day dress with modern lines will be easy to add on to. Try to make sure that these layers you’ll be playing with are all fairly light. I’d also avoid materials that wrinkle like crazy, since the summer heat is enough to really seal those wrinkles in. Now, what’s with that “same old sweater” you keep at your desk? Maybe it’s high time for an update or two—a couple of new cover-ups you can take pride in, as opposed to reverting to the boring and schleppy little number you’ve been stashing in your desk drawer for lord-knows-how-long. A chic featherweight cropped cardigan with a ¾ length sleeve, would be a great staple, either in a neutral shade or something that would add a little punch to what you’re teaming it with. You might also want a longer lightweight cardigan in an interesting weave. You might even want to invest in some lovely, soft scarves and a lightweight pashmina, which always makes an elegant statement. I would keep a small collection of diaphanous scarves at my desk, in a variety of colours and maybe even prints. Whether you’re wrapping them around your neck, covering your shoulders with them, or even using them as a lap blanket, under your desk, scarves are always a welcome style punctuation mark. They’re also easy to transport, either in your tote, or tied to the handle of your favourite summer bag, easily accessed according to need.


While sweaters are indeed practical, and a little easier to stash, I also love the idea of a little tailored jacket that can been thrown over a variety of look. Even a nicely cut cropped jacket will give you a more powerful look than a cozy little sweater will. And that being said, I’m also keen on stylish suits, because you can always just carry the jacket, and then toss it on when you’re inside. No question that’s a look that’s always polished, and means business. Of course, sleeveless dresses or shirts are mandatory on those stifling days, but will definitely require some sort of cover-up in your air-conditioned office. Just make sure it’s something nice and fresh and not all pilled or stretched out or more worthy of the cottage than the city. I’d also suggest a great carryall bag that will carry your sweaters or tailored jackets to and fro without forcing them to be all crumpled up.


Also, I know it’s strappy sandal season, but you lose 86% of your body heat through your toes. So you may want to keep a pair of basic pumps under your desk, just to keep your feet a little toastier on the job. Little summer booties that are perforated are also a good choice for those who hate the feeling of cold feet.