Ask A Minnesota Expert: Dressing For Work During The Summer Heat

May 27, 2014 7:00 AM

(credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

As temperatures rise and Minnesota blizzards become just a memory, it doesn’t take long for the coats and jackets, long pants and sweaters to head back into the closet until next year. We have an obligation, no, a duty to honor the few blissful months of summer by putting on the very best of our warm-weather wear. It can, however, be hard to balance workplace professionalism and that to-die-for sundress. It can also be hard looking your absolute best and trying to impress the partners while sweating in a full suit. Samuel Roberts of Banana Republic offers his insights on how to find that balance and go to work this summer looking and feeling your best.

488990877 Ask A Minnesota Expert: Dressing For Work During The Summer Heat

Credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Samuel Joseph Roberts
Banana Republic
100 W. Market
Bloomington, MN 55425
(952) 854-1818

For years, Mr. Roberts has helped cultivate the perfect look for professionals all across Minnesota. Having spent his time working both in corporate settings, among the styles he helped to create, and interacting closely with customers at some of the Twin Cities’ best retailers, he has dedicated his life to making sure we Minnesotans look good. For college grads going to their first real interview to CEOs looking for the perfect seasonal style, there is a look for every occasion. Mr. Roberts offers a few tips on how to find it.

Fabrics Are Fun

Winter will always claim dominance when it comes to fabrics. Your chunky cashmere cableknit will be missed for a few months; so will your shawl collar angora sweater, your velvet blazer, your boucle skirt and those amazing skinny cords. But you will be able to wear these again as soon as summer ends, which will happen much sooner than you want. Summer weights offer no less creativity. Don’t hold stereotypes when it comes to fabrication. Remember, linen is supposed to look earthy and rustic. Conversely, lightweight blends like poplin, muslin and the ever-popular madras allow you to add sharper, cleaner lines to your summer outfits. Cotton pants and skirts with wovens and polos get the job done, but mix and match, have fun and be creative.

Don’t Become A Stereotype

Every reasonable person in this state accepts the winters to enjoy the summers, and by ‘summers’ we really mean ‘patio season.’ You may love that first stretch of five days with 70-degree weather, but don’t get overzealous. You don’t need to look like an extra from a rerun of “Miami Vice” to let everyone at the bar know it’s warm, that you’re happy that it’s warm and that you love your life now that it’s warm. That bright yellow polo will look just as good with dark denim and flip flops as it will with cream chinos and deck shoes.

139910438 Ask A Minnesota Expert: Dressing For Work During The Summer Heat

Credit: Jupiter Images

Embrace The Season

On occasion, dressing like a tourist in the Bahamas is more than acceptable. Don’t do it every day, or for every event, but you’ve survived a long winter and deserve to have some fun with your wardrobe. If some self-proclaimed fashionista that respects norms over self expression judges you, so be it. You’re having a better time than they are anyway.

Related: Best 2014 Summer Fashion Events In Minnesota

Specifically For Women Part 1: The Dresses

Wear as many sun and maxi dresses as you possibly can. You love them. Men love them. Other women love them. They look amazing on every body type. You can’t go wrong.

Specifically For Women Part 2: Details Are Important

Summer is a spirit as much as it is a season. You may have an amazing floral dress you can’t wear to work because the hem rests more than three inches above the knee. Don’t worry about it. Have fun with the details. Correction: go crazy with the details. You know that obnoxious corral necklace that weighs seven pounds? It’s your best friend when you’re stuck wearing a light grey suit and need to meet your friends for happy hour. Throw it in your purse if your boss doesn’t think it’s “work appropriate.” The same goes for your vibrant belts, Espadrilles, massive earrings and bright, over-exposed, patent-leather pumps. Don’t let the HR dress code become your dress code.

You Are No Longer in High School

It comes down to nostalgia. For three months every year you had absolute freedom. Subconsciously, you want to experience that again. But you can’t. Those days are over. Forever. You work five days a week, 52 weeks out of the year. Unless you win the lottery, this is your new life. We all want to go back to those carefree days of endless optimism, but the chances of that happening are nonexistent. This may seem dark and cruel, but I’m saying this to ensure the following point is clear: you are not in high school anymore and you should not dress as though you’re still in high school. We all loved our “shredded” jeans. We all loved popping our collars (we even convinced ourselves we were rebels defending true style by battling conventional wisdom). We were right to do what we did at the time we did it. But that time no longer exists for us. Your pink polo (with collar down) is fine; so is your rugby stripe polo. Everyone loves your fitted chambray shirt, but showing off your faux-zirconia navel-ring is not necessary. The way you dress won’t change how you feel. You’re a big kid now. Accept it. Dress like it.

Related: Best Minnesota Fashion Blogs

Your Summer Jacket is an Underestimated Piece of Your Wardrobe

We live in Minnesota. Minnesota does not share a climate with San Diego. It rains in Minnesota. It rains a lot in Minnesota. The great outfit you just bought could be ruined by the generic fleece you wore for the last eight months. Have a couple of fun jackets you can rely on for multiple occasions: a quality trench, a detailed cadet and a sleek slicker. All are functional and versatile enough to coordinate with different styles on different days and nights.

Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.