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Clothes for specific weather

Q&A: What should I wear to work on a really hot day?

Q&A: What should I wear to work on a really hot day?

Our long-awaited heatwave makes for great weekends—but also far-from-comfortable commutes. Sweaty tubes and trains don't set you up for a productive day at the office.

One trick to keeping from boiling (or from freezing if your office tends to be overzealous on air con), says Thread senior stylist Sophie Bailey-Hine, is layering. (Which isn't an entirely new idea: we've extolled the virtues of layering in the face of weather woes here and here.) 

The other secret to staying cool is avoiding man-made fabrics at all costs. "It sounds crazy, but even a polyester tie can make your commute more uncomfortable," Sophie says. "Natural fabrics like cotton and linen keep you from sweating too much."

Below, Sophie shares ideas to solve every office worker's temperature quandaries, whether your office is casual, smart, or somewhere in between.

If your office is smart

Photographed: Richard James knitted tie (£75) 

Go for: A cotton-linen-blend suit, poplin shirt and silk or cotton tie.

How this keeps you cool on your commute: "Poplin shirts are the most breathable kind you can wear while still looking smart; silk or cotton ties won't make your neck sweat as much as polyester ties will; and a linen-blend suit will save you from overheating (just make sure it's no more than 60 percent linen so it doesn't look too beachy). When you're commuting, undo your shirt's collar and cuffs, drape your jacket over your arm, and leave your tie to put on at the office."

And if your office's air conditioning is on too high: "Your suit jacket provides some insulation."

Make sure to avoid: "Iron-free or easy-iron shirts. They're not usually made from natural fibres, so they'll trap heat in and make you sweat more." 


If your office is on the smart side of smart casual

Photographed: Marks & Spencer puppytooth blazer (£99), GANT navy chinos (£100)

Go for: Cotton chinos, a cotton shirt or a plain polo shirt and an unstructured, unlined blazer.

How this keeps you cool on your commute: "Because the chinos and shirt are made from 100 percent cotton, they're cooler than anything made with some man-made content, such as polyamide. When you get to the office, you can throw on an unstructured or deconstructed blazer to look more put-together. These styles are boxier and less fitted than traditional tailored blazers, so they're smart but not stifling or restrictive—and they won't crease when you drape one over your arm while running to the train."

And if your office's air conditioning is on too high: "The blazer will save you from freezing!"

Make sure to avoid: "Jeans. So heavy and hot." 

If your office is on the casual side of smart casual

Photographed: Our Legacy chambray shirt (£115), Gant navy blue chinos (£140), Sanders desert shoes (£129)

Go for: Cotton chinos and a chambray shirt

How this keeps you cool on your commute: "Chambray shirts are breathable and fairly light—and don't show sweat stains as visibly as white shirts do. Chinos are lighter and less restrictive than your usual jeans. If your commute is especially hot, wear a t-shirt with the chambray shirt open over it like a jacket (or shacket) ... and then lose the t-shirt and button up the shirt when you get to the office (so it looks like the photo above)."

And if your office's air conditioning is on too high: "Try a sweatshirt, which is less finicky than a jumper: because sweatshirts don't crease, you can ball yours up under your desk for the next time the air con revs up."

Make sure to avoid: "Skipping socks. Go for invisible socks or you'll stink up your shoes."

If your office is casual

Photographed: Several maroon boat shoes (£87.50)

Go for: Cotton chino shirts, a cotton t-shirt and desert shoes.

Why this works on your commute: "Everyone on the tube will envy your cotton t-shirt and shorts—the coolest combination imaginable, especially with light desert shoes (which also save this from looking too casual). If you want to go slighly smarter, swap your t-shirt for a shirt when you get to the office."

And if your office's air conditioning is on too high: "Wear a shirt over your t-shirt like an overshirt, or try a Harrington jacket."

Make sure to avoid: "Sport shorts. Jersey or track shorts are way too casual for the office."