Nothing says corporate summer like work dresses.  They’re easy, cool and smart looking.  It’s important to keep in mind that dresses for work still need a certain level of polish to be professional.  Don’t wear your maxi dresses, casual sundresses or what could pass as beach coverups.

In addition to these fairly obvious tips, there are some other things to keep in mind.

#1- Make sure the summer dresses you choose look just as good with a jacket or cardigan as they do without. 

Many summer work dresses are sleeveless, which can be great when enduring a sweaty commute, walking from client to client or for after work plans.  However, freezing factor aside (because you know your office has the A/C on arctic blast), you will probably feel more professional with a topper piece.  A blazer, for example, will make a summer work dress look more suited and a simple cardigan can cover up  arms you don’t feel comfortable showing off at work.  To avoid your topper pieces looking like afterthoughts, make sure you have these layering pieces in the right proportional and colors.

#2 Flirty styles can work, but be careful

Most summer work dresses have a flair that gives them that warm weather, casual look.  This can be fine, but you still need to be careful.  Watch out for ruffles, really girly prints, or very drapy fabrics.  Instead, look for tailored dress styles with a bit of flirt.  Don’t go overboard.  This is also why structured jackets can be a blessing, they can balance out a dresses that are too soft and easy.

#3 Accessorize professionally

When wearing summery dresses to the office, it is important to also consider the accessories you choose.  Instead of wearing that breezy dress with a pair of espadrille wedges, try a more professional pair of shoes, like a nude pump or pair of ballerina flats.  Also think about jewelry and avoid earrings that are too big, bracelets that clank around too much or summer sandals or flip flops.  With these more easy dresses you want to create balance by taking your accessories more seriously.

Summer Work Dresses That Will Keep You Cool and Professional

Below are three summery work dresses that can totally go the office while making you feel like you are embracing the warm weather.

Dress #1

work dresses This first dress from Rebecca Taylor has a professional look to it with its summer bouclé skirt and simple top.  It’s also easy to wear after work for some fun.  In addition to its look, it is a dress that can be simply layered for the office.  A cardigan or blazer can be added and, with the dress being white, any color can be used as a topper piece.  Here, I used a Nic + Zoe cardigan in coral.  To give the dress a professional finish, I added these slingback peep toe pumps in nude from Naturalizer, white stud earrings from Kendra Scott and gold bracelet from Max & Chloe.

Dress #2

work dresses While working with a client who recently took a CIO position at a new company, she was over the moon about this summery work dress from T Tahari.  While it may be cotton with a fuller skirt, it has a perfect professional look for the summer.  Plus it has pockets.  A total score.  For work, we paired it with this white cotton blazer, also from T Tahari (stock is low online), but she could also wear it with a navy blazer, like this one from Reiss.  For a pop of color, we talked about a bold colored necklace or pair of shoes, like this pair of flats from Sam Edelman.  For a simple finish to this look, I added this necklace from Ann Taylor.

Dress #3

work dresses BOSS Hugo Boss is a favorite label of mine for professional clients.  I particularly love this yellow summer dress by them for its professional yet summery look.  When choosing easy dresses for the summer, look to these softly tailored styles to achieve a more relaxed but professional look.

For the office, I added this striped blazer from Zara and, for a pop of color, these soft blue pumps from Marc Fisher and bib necklace, that pulls all the colors together, from Bauble Bar.

Shop for summer work dresses

Looking to add some summer work dresses to your wardrobe?  Check out these additional styles.