- The Washington Times - Monday, August 8, 2005

You can admit it. You know exactly whom I’m talking about. Every office has one.

In fact, maybe it’s you. The person who is always hot, hot, hot. He or she insists on keeping the thermostat on 60 degrees in the middle of summer, when it’s above 95 every day and you’re wearing short sleeves and clothing in the most lightweight fabric available. And as we all know, there’s a yin for every yang: There’s someone at the other end of the building, decked out in a three-piece suit and still shivering.

Workdays are stressful enough without the added distraction of an uncomfortable office environment. Here are a few tips that will, if not tip the thermostat in your favor, at least help you cope with the indoor weather.

For the cold-blooded:

Before you pull out your winter wardrobe, remember, location is everything. Check to see if you’re under an AC vent. If so, close it. Alternatively, take a walk around your office. Temperatures can vary radically from cube to cube, office to office, and floor to floor. If you happen to occupy the coldest office in your building, consider a desk change. This may not be a possibility, but it doesn’t hurt to find out. (This goes for the hot-blooded as well.)

If all else fails, it’s time to consider a wardrobe revision, but you can’t come to work in heavy wool. Not only is it seasonally inappropriate, but you’ll also pass out from heat exhaustion as soon as you step off the Metro. Instead, select light summer layers that will allow you to go with the temperature flow. Ladies, a spring sweater set will hold you in good stead. Select long linen or cotton pants instead of capris, and consider knee-high panty hose (sandalfoot only) with sandals, espadrilles or mules. Guys, choose a cotton V-neck or crew neck cotton sweater over a button-down dress shirt with chinos. If you’re in a professional environment, keep the sweater on under your suit jacket. Ditto for the ladies. A V-neck cotton sweater between your blouse and suit jacket can ward off the chills and still look sharp.

Finally, keep a nice sweater or sport jacket in your office at all times for emergencies.

For the hot-blooded:

There’s little you can do when your office is climbing over the 80-degree mark. When you’ve stripped down to just half of the sweater set and Bermuda shorts, it’s time to bring in your own personal fan. If you’re in a professional environment where suits are required, insist on air conditioning, and take it to the top if you must. Remind your boss that visiting clients will seek out “cooler” competition.

Hi Jordan:

I love to wear black in the office because it can be worn often with different accessories. Lately I have been wondering if I am overdoing the black. What is the word on wearing black for a professional look without looking dull!?

Barbara - Washington, DC

Dear Barbara:

Color has come back into fashion with force, but it hasn’t replaced black, it’s just added to our options. There is still nothing more sleek or professional looking than a trim black suit, so wear it with confidence. To keep from tipping toward the dull side, jazz up the black suit or other outfit with a splash of color. A bright pink blouse or light-colored scarf will create a wonderful contrast. Colorful costume jewelry, instead of gold and silver, is another nice way to soften black and add visual interest to your ensemble.

Dear Jordan:

I will be participating in my first company golf outing next month. What is the appropriate dress? en - Washington, DC

Dear Ken:

Some golf clubs have strict codes of dress, so call the club pro before you arrive. But collared shirts are a given - no tanks and no denim.

Dear Jordan:

My boss has asked me to go shopping with her because she likes my taste but she is much larger and the styles I wear won’t work for her although she insists they will. How do I handle this and still keep my job? Lenore - Gaithersburg

Dear Lenore:

When she steps out of the dressing room — applaud if it is a winner or a thumbs down if it doesn’t work. The less said the better as long as you are showing you are really into it and care.

Ms. Jordan Speer is the senior editor of an apparel business magazine and has been writing about the industry for more than nine years. Send workplace or corporate fashion questions to styleforsuccess@aol.com.

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