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5 Summer work wear styles that won't make you melt

Kristin Chessman is a freelance writer, editor and mom from Southern California with a passion for travel, fashion, Disney, the beach, Italian food and all-things celebrity. Follow Kristin on Twitter @KristinChessman.

Summer chic

Dressing in a professional, classic style amid the sweltering summer heat is no easy feat. When the temperature's blazing outside, donning a fancy wool suit is probably the last thing on your mind. Here are five wardrobe pieces that will help you fight summer sweat with no sacrifice to your style.
Cardigan

5 Fashion staples to the rescue

So how do you bridge the gap between cool, comfortable and professional, appropriately? Here are five simple ways to update your wardrobe, look crisp, classic and workplace approved -- without melting in the hot summer sun.

Don a cardigan

A lightweight cardigan is a must-have this summer. Just about anyone who works in an office can attest to the power struggle between employees and their thermostat. When the temperature reaches triple digits outside, you can count on blizzard conditions inside. So what's a gal to do? Stock up on thin cardigans in several basic colors like black, white and cream to layer over and match with any outfit.

Also, nab a few fun cardigans to mix into your summer repertoire. Try a vintage look, something with a splash of bright color and a lively, exotic print. Wild patterns are all the rage this summer, so let your imagination run free!

Why we love them

Besides being the perfect layering piece, a cardigan can also make your outfit more workplace appropriate. For example, if you're opting for a spaghetti strap or strapless top, adding a cardigan will cover your shoulders and dress-up your entire look.

According to fashion stylist Amy Salinger, a cardigan -- even a short-sleeve one -- is part of the ideal workplace ensemble this summer. "The perfect summer work outfit is all about knee-length skirts, fun and flouncy underpinnings, short-sleeve cardigans and peep-toe pumps," she says.

City/Bermuda Shorts

City/Bermuda Shorts

We know what you're thinking. Shorts? At work? But city or Bermuda shorts can still be considered workplace appropriate since they're cut right at the knee and are complementary of many body shapes. For a professional look, pair neutral-colored shorts with a short-sleeve button-down shirt and a lightweight blazer. Of course, it all depends on your corporate culture!

Get the look from head to toe

Since the Bermuda short is a simple wardrobe staple, you have the freedom to experiment with bold accessories and shoes. Complete this look with a pair of stylish and seasonal espadrilles or thong sandals.

Summer Suit

Summer suit

If your workplace dress code calls for suits, don't fret. This summer, trade in gabardine for lighter materials like linen, jersey, cotton and khaki, and lighter colors like cream, khaki, tan and white. In particular, linen can be your best friend this summer since it's a light, breathable material. "Even in a suit, linen is stylish and appropriate," says Salinger.

Suit separates

Some designers have created suit separates that are ideal for summer. Take the style of a traditional blazer and update it by picking a short-sleeve or three-quarter length sleeve fitted version, like this one from Loft.com. Keep cool by pairing your blazer with camis and silk blouses. Or, add a bright-colored tank in a flirty summer shade like pink, coral or turquoise. "Add a matching belt to wear over your suit jacket for some added style," suggests Marissa Rizzuto, fashion expert and author.

Maxi Dresses

Maxi dresses

A maxi dress is the perfect summer solution to take you from a day at the office to an evening beach barbecue. Maxi dresses are fun, comfortable and flowy, and can easily be dressed-up with a short blazer or thin cardigan.

How to wear it

Try this trendy chevron-stripe maxi dress from Gap.com. Pair it with a white denim jacket or navy blazer for work-appropriate summer style. Style expert and author Bridgette Raes recommends completing your look with chunky accessories like thick bangles, large stones and metal work.

Tunics

Tunics

Tunics score the summer workplace fashion trifecta -- they're comfortable, stylish and appropriate.

Complete the look

"The ultra-forgiving silhouette of a tunic works for any figure. If you want to rein in the volume, just add a wide belt at the waist," says Misty Huber, co-founder of StyleSalt.com.

Or, pair a bright, embroidered tunic, like this one from Chicos.com, with a pair of fitted white pants for a crisp, polished summer ensemble.

More summer fashion and style

Celebrity-inspired color-blocking trends
Best bright sundresses for summer
7 Flirty, floral skirts for summer

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