Professional Dress Blog PictureIt’s summer time in Washington, DC, which means ice cream trucks, baseball games, and of course, sweltering heat and humidity. The sun is blazing and the heat index will likely soon soar above 100—a bit of a shock for an Irish girl working for Susan Davis International for the summer.  Back home in Ireland, summer temperatures average around a comfortable 60 degrees, so the thought of wearing professional clothing at the height of summer in DC was quite daunting. However, with meticulous planning I’ve managed to put together a ‘weather appropriate’professional wardrobe. Here’s what I’ve learned along with some valuable tips from staff at SDI!

In the PR industry, how you present yourself is crucial as it serves as a reflection of you as an individual, as well as your company. “How an individual dresses for work can be a powerful extension of his personal brand,” says Matthew Randall, executive director of the Centre for Professional Excellence. Clothing, accessories, and even footwear help to reinforce or diminish a person’s skills and qualities in the eyes of their employer, co-workers, and clients. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of dressing professionally.

One of the most difficult challenges in choosing hot weather attire is preparing for the varying climates you often encounter in one day during DC summers — scorching heat, freezing air conditioning, and frequent afternoon thunderstorms.  I’ve found the solution lies in layering your clothes. Layers allow flexibility to match the needs of each situation. I never leave the house without a lightweight cardigan or umbrella, just in case.

Senior Account Executive Dan Gregory suggests always having a jacket hanging in your office. This allows you to travel to and from work more lightly dressed and still be prepared to meet with clients in professional attire. He also suggests keeping a fresh shirt on a hanger for when a heat-wave hits. If you haven’t already, make sure that a travel-sized deodorant is your best friend this season and keep one in your desk drawer!

Wearing light colors is a stylish way to update your seasonal wardrobe, but it’s also a great way to stay cool. Dark colors absorb and trap heat, making you hotter than usual. One report on the causes of heat stroke states that wearing light colored clothing is key to regulating body temperature during the summer months. So this tip is actually scientifically proven!

Ladies, “less is more” when it comes to summer hair and makeup. One thing that screams unprofessional is smudged makeup. Replacing your trusty liquid foundation with a lighter powder and investing in waterproof eye makeup can help prevent you from looking like you’ve melted in the summer heat. For hair, a neat bun or braid is a great way of keeping hair away from your neck while still looking polished.

Last but not least, blisters are an unfortunate reality of hot weather. However, wearing comfortable shoes for your journey to and from the office is an easy and effective way of avoiding them. Much like Dan’s tip, keep a pair of professional work shoes in your bag or at your desk to slip on once you get into the office.

These are just a few of the tips that are helping me settle into my first summer stateside and allowing me to make the best possible impression during my time here at SDI. I hope they help you beat the heat!


By India Fahy, SDI

June 23, 2015