The One Outfit That Always Looks Polished for Work—Even During a Heatwave

The thought of wearing black clothes in the summer probably fills most with sweaty dread. But ever since we discovered that it's actually better to wear them in the summer (the colour absorbs heat, which is more cooling than white garments), we've been feeling pretty smug about our dedication to a near-gothic wardrobe. 

It's not that we don't like bright hues; it's just that darker clothes tend to be a go-to in the UK, what with all that rain and very few very hot days. Plus, it's a super easy way to make any outfit look instantly more polished, which is ideal for work. So what do you do when you have a lot of favourite black pieces but you don't want to look like that moody teenager who's been forced to go on a family holiday?

Essentially, this is all about wearing the right fabrics—leather is pretty much a no-go (you don't want to end up in a leather pants situation à la Ross Geller). Anything too heavy or clingy is going to make you look and feel uncomfortable, so instead opt for cotton, linen in lightweight finishes such a super-summery broderie anglaise, and wear them with your favourite chunky black heels. Don't be afraid to flash a little shoulder or leg either to really ensure that your outfit is summer-ready. 

Scroll through our gallery for outfit inspiration and where to buy their looks.

1. Black Dress + Velcro Sandals


(Image credit: @alexisforeman)

Style Notes: Alexis Foreman is the queen of wearing black in summer. Case in point? She makes this black maxi dress feel warm weather-ready with a pair of Velcro sandals and a cinching belt bag. 


2. Black Suit + Heels


(Image credit: @ada_oguntodu)

Style Notes: When it comes to black-on-black, you can't really go wrong with a power suit. We like how Ada has given hers a fashion edge with a string of pearls and flared trousers. If the weather is hitting the 30s, make sure to opt for light linen fabrics. 


3. Black Trousers + T-Shirt


(Image credit: @_jeanettemadsen_)

Style Notes: The beauty of picking one colour is that you can embrace paired-back staples. A pair of trousers and plain tee suddenly feel ten times chicer when all rendered in black. Just add kitten heels for more formal dress codes. 


Related: The Complete Capsule: 11 Summer Essentials to Carry You Through Till Autumn

4. Black Mini + Blazer


(Image credit: @leiasfez)

Style Notes: French girls are so good at incorporating an androgynous edge into their feminine summer looks. Balance out an LBD and baguette with a boxy blazer for the weekend—just opt for a midi hem-length for the office. 


5. Black Dress + Trousers


(Image credit: Rex)

Style Notes: Fashion editors love a bit of inventive layering, and it works so well when paired with head-to-toe black. Take your inspiration from this show-goer and throw a sleeveless dress over a pair of black trousers. 


Up Next: I Usually Buy Designer Shoes, But These High Street Styles Have Changed My Mind

This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated by Joy Montgomery.

Elinor Block