casual office style Aug 7, 2018

What to Wear To Work When It’s Too Hot To Think

WHITE BUTTON DOWN: Uniqlo  |  MIDI SKIRT: Max Mara (affordable alternatives HERE and HERE)  |  BAG: Cult Gaia  |  TAN SANDALS: Veronica Beard (similar affordable alternative HERE)  |  PENDANT NECKLACE: Chanel (vintage, similar HERE)  |  LIPS: Nars Lip Pigment (Under My Thumb)

I don’t know how it is where you live, but lately NYC has felt like the inside of the Devil’s gym bag… stuffed with dirty workout wear, shoved to the bottom of a gym locker, on the surface of sun.  Relentless heat and humidity combined with the notion that it maybe-might-eventually rain but doesn’t actually rain until you walk outside without an umbrella means that work outfits have been kinda hard.  When it’s too hot to put too much effort (or clingy fabric) into the workwear mix, my suggestion is some simple fashion math that you can do often, and stress-free:


Crisp white shirt + lightweight midi skirt + heeled sandal = DONE


Looking put-together when the weather makes you want to fall apart isn’t easy, but if you uniform it, it’s do-able. This look is one of my favorites because it’s polished and professional, but doesn’t feel like the sun is about to melt me into the pavement.



A breathable, lightweight button down is a year-round staple, but in the summer, I like to opt for an oversized version that really allows for air circulation and breathability.  If you’re feeling meh about every single button down in your closet, here’s a neat trick: Maybe just take great care of them.  Gather an armload and take them to the dry cleaner for a wash and perfect pressing.  It’ll feel like you have a new wardrobe upon return, ready to service this little style equation at a moment’s notice.  Alternatively, snatch up a few of my favorite classic white non-iron shirts because at $30 a pop, you won’t feel too guilty if they need to be retired after one season.


For hot summer days, midi skirt fabric should be light in texture, but this is also a great time to have fun with color or print, as it prevents things from feeling boring or repetitive. I’m a huge fan of the delicate dot, hence the look here, but feel free to play with any shade or print you have–they’ll all work with this formula.



A beautiful, classic, comfortable heeled sandal is one of summer’s smartest investments. Maybe that and regular pedicures (whether you’re having them done or doing them at home!).  Having a smart-looking sandal at-the-ready let’s you surf two waves with one board. (Like that summer metaphor?)  First, a neutral sandal will work with pretty much any outfit in a way that say…a bright pink strappy tassel heel can’t.  And second, a sandal that’s got a little bit of grown-up to it solves the question we dance around all season: Is it okay to wear open toes to work? If your office isn’t super formal and it’s these open toes, yes.


And finally accessories, which prevent you from looking like you literally wear a uniform. Button downs are a perfect canvas for necklaces of all lengths, and a good cuffed sleeve is ideal for showing off wrist candy.  Most importantly, accessories aren’t more clothes—they amp up the outfit but won’t make you feel even more like melting candle wax than you already do.


Go forth and hydrate, friends.  Summer isn’t going anywhere.


WHITE BUTTON DOWN: Uniqlo  |  MIDI SKIRT: Max Mara (affordable alternatives HERE and HERE)  |  BAG: Cult Gaia  |  TAN SANDALS: Veronica Beard (similar affordable alternative HERE)  |  PENDANT NECKLACE: Chanel (vintage, similar HERE)  |  LIPS: Nars Lip Pigment (Under My Thumb)


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20 Responses to What to Wear To Work When It’s Too Hot To Think

  1. you cult gaia bag is gorgeous! Love the shape! x

    chevrons & éclairs

  2. I can assure you that hot weather is not only in NY … Europe is warm, very warm as well!

    Beautiful and very elegant look, as always!

    https://4highheelsfans.wordpress.com/2018/08/05/milestones/

  3. Linda says:

    Love this look! Wow! 🌸🍃

    xxx, Linda
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  4. Rach says:

    Haha devil’s gym bag, that’s such a great metaphor! Thanks for the tips though so helpful and I am obsessing over your skirt!

    http://www.rdsobsessions.com

  5. You look amazing with this look. I love this combination, it is a combo that never fails. White shirts are a must have for summer.

    New blog post: An airport outfit, a crop top with a beautiful back paired with a high waits culottes pants. Don’t miss it!!!!!

    Kisses from Miami

    http://mylovelypeople.com/2018/08/07/how-to-make-a-perfect-outfit-with-a-crop-top/

  6. Trish says:

    A long-sleeve button-down when it’s 90 and humid as “the formula” ….. lol

    • Mary Orton says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful contribution. For client meetings and other more formal professional settings, I always find long sleeves to be more appropriate than anything sleeveless or short-sleeved. An oversized blouse in a natural, breathable fabric does the trick for me.

      • trish says:

        Then why not a tailored ensemble? If you’re meeting with clients who are all wearing formal business attire, then something with a tailored jacket would be at the same level. If they’re in suits, why are you just in shirt sleeves?

        If the meeting is not so formal, then there is no reason why a short-sleeved blouse wouldn’t work. It would certainly be more comfortable.

        Anyway, these are minutiae. You are still beautiful and all of your other looks are great. I don’t love all of them, but you can pull almost anything off.

  7. Weather says:

    Stylish and elegant outfit. Great combination of shoes and bag.
    http://sat24.cc

  8. Susan says:

    What size in the men’s shirt would you recommend?

    • Mary Orton says:

      Depending upon how oversized I want the shirt to fit, I typically get an XS or S which fits me like a women’s M or M/L. Again, it’s not supposed to look like a super tailored slim-fitting blouse — the oversized look is the goal, especially on a warm day when you want plenty of air circulation!

  9. Oh this is perfect and will work great when the fall starts to kick in! The one tweak I would make is maybe switch the skirt and top out for linen material instead just to provide an even more lightweight fabric! But I wouldn’t change a thing about the actual outfit in terms of styling. Long sleeve tops is always the way to go. They’re classy, traditional, formal and you can really wear them whenever. The big gold necklace is a beautiful addition as well, however, I’ve really got my eyes locked on those shoes 😉

    http://www.beingisabella.com

  10. Patricia says:

    Maybe Mary is getting tired of wearing summer clothes.
    Here in St. Louis it has been consistently in the 90’s
    since May. We had no Spring. Strange.

  11. Kelly says:

    I know what you mean – it has been above 90 degrees here in London and there is no A/C here, in offices or apartments and it is killer!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

  12. Damien Smith says:

    Thanks for sharing good information. Your blog is wonderful and very useful for everyone. Keep sharing more posts like this!

  13. I think there is beauty in everything. What ‘normal’ people perceive as ugly, I can usually see something of beauty in it. Style is something each of us already has, all we need to do is find it. Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. When in doubt, wear red. I don’t design clothes. I design dreams. I need some information to solve my all waistline problem. Have you?

  14. Gail Ramos says:

    I want people to see the dress, but focus on the woman. I make clothes, women make fashion. What’s my style is not your style, and I don’t see how you can define it. It’s something that expresses who you are in your own way.

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