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Hello Summer, So Long Sandals

Just because the lazy days of summer are setting in doesn’t mean we can get lazy with our workplace attire. Whether we work on post or off post, it is important to maintain a professional image all year long.

In fact, in the summer you should be even more diligent about being dressed to impress — professionally. Many people will take vacations, and it just might give you the chance to step in, step up and take advantage of a role you’ve been waiting for.

“I always assess a person’s appearance,” said Coyea Kizzie, who’s managed employees as a soldier and civilian.

“I have to have a level of confidence that an individual is prepared to meet with the CEO unannounced,” she said. “If that confidence is not there, I will not consider that person for the exposure that is sometimes needed to get to the next level.”

Rising temperatures outside is no excuse for inappropriate dress either.

“I continue to dress for 70 degree weather even though it’s in the 90s,” Kizzie said. “Most buildings are air-conditioned, so it’s not necessary to dress as if we are actually in the element.”

So what’s appropriate? Experts agree that playing it safe is the best way to deal with uncertainty.

“It’s always better to overdress than underdress, even if you feel out of place,” said Stacy Swearengen, certified career coach.

In general, that translates into items such as skirts that fall just above or below the knee, classic blazers, and shirts or tops that aren’t revealing.

“You can’t go wrong with a sleeveless, knee-length summer sheath,” said Claire Morris, former on-post career counselor. “Seersucker is timeless.”

Specific guidelines are often dictated by where you live.

“What’s acceptable at work during the summer months can vary from state to state,” Swearengen said. “For example, when we PCS’d to Colorado, I found that Capri pants and open-toe shoes were not acceptable. But in South Carolina, they are acceptable.”

Dress codes may also be dictated by the work environment.

“Banking attire tends to be more formal than teaching and teaching more formal than office work at recreation centers,” she said.

According to Swearengen, there are three keys steps for getting it right.

“Review the guidelines listed in your HR booklet. Observe your co-workers. And confirm your interpretation of the rules with your manager,” she said.

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