Lez Get Dressed For Work: The Working Bois Of Summer

Because you deserve to be the best dressed homo in the office. Read previous posts here.

Header by Rory Midhani

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Today I want to talk about how to dress for work when it’s super fucking hot outside and you don’t wear dresses. As I said when we talked about this issue for femmes, (literally going to just quote myself here, hope that’s okay with you) having a job to go to in the summer is a special brand of hell. Between the heat outside, the air conditioning inside, the schlep to and from the office, and your sanity, dressing for work in the summer is real challenge. As a people who, in general, know their way around some layers, it can be jarring to suddenly have to make an outfit out of as little clothing as possible.

hey didn't i go to college with you? via qwear

hey didn’t i go to college with you? via qwear

Plus, if you’re masculine of center, your clothing options are already limited by the hyper-gendered nature of work clothes. I’m going to be pulling from both men’s and women’s clothes for this — if you’re shopping online, make sure you measure yourself first, especially if you’re ordering a “gender” of clothes you haven’t tried on in person. Men’s clothing doesn’t fit the same as women’s and vice versa, though it can definitely fit. My girlfriend has taught herself how to tailor men’s shirts to fit her, which for her involves just making them shorter, because that last button is trouble, as men’s hips are generally more narrow than women’s. If you just make the shirt shorter though, it won’t go over your hips and everything will be great.

Dressing for hot weather involves wearing less clothing for everyone, obviously. For more masculine clothing, it involves a certain amputation of your clothes’ limbs: pants become shorts, long sleeves becomes tee shirts, etc. For optimum temperature regulation, you should also change what material you’re wearing, and, importantly, your clothes should be a little looser. Nothin’ like getting some ventilation in there.

minus the hat though, hats are a lot in the summer via dapperq

minus the hat though, hats are a lot in the summer via dapperq

Depending on wear you work, shorts may or may not be an option. I love the Gap’s new “boyfriend” roll-up shorts (left, below), particularly because they are a lot longer in person than on the models shown (models have very long legs) and they feel very business casual to me when worn with other nice things. However, if you can’t wear shorts to work, cropped dress pants are a very reasonable options. According to Rae of The Handsome Butch, “Showing some ankle cools you off, and looks stylish, so long as you don’t wear socks. Wear boat shoes or other shoes that are forgiving when sockless.” (I don’t know if you know this but the images below are linked to the products. If the images aren’t linked there will be a link in the caption. I just want you to be able to buy things you want.)

Gap, Brooks Brothers, Topman

When it comes to picking a summer color, if you’re particularly sweaty, you might want to do a sweat test. Wet your fingertips and push them into the inside of the fabric. If the moisture on the other side is super noticeable, it’s probably not going to be an ideal thing to sweat in. Darker colors tend to pass the sweat test more, though they are harder to wear in the summer months. So, to comfortably wear a color you can sweat confidently in, you’ll also have to pick a summer-friendy material.

According to Rae, the best material you can bestow upon your hot sweaty workin’ bod is linen, which is lightweight and breathes well. “Also,” she says, “Seersucker — which is more of a texture than a fabric — when made out of cotton breathes extremely well. Seersucker is also a good option because it doesn’t need to be ironed, unlike linen. Acrylic is a good option as well.”

As for your top half, Uniqlo has an amazing line of linen menswear right now. A short sleeve linen button front shirt is maybe what your summer work attire is missing.  Rae gave me permission to advise you to wear a tie with this outfit (Uniqlo is also currently conveniently selling linen ties, go look at them), and adds that you can even leave your top button undone and loosen your collar. Remember: everyone is a little bit more casual in the summer, verging on sloppier. Looking comfortable in what you are wearing, even if it’s casual, will make you look better than someone super dressed up who is clearly suffering from heat and sweat.

Uniqlo is also currently selling linen vests and blazers, so if you work somewhere that’s air conditioned to be a walk-in freezer, you can bring your layers with you and put them on upon arrival. I highly recommend not getting fully dressed until you absolutely have to be when it’s hot out.

Okay bois, what are your hot weather work attire secrets? Don’t keep them to yourself. Also while I have you here, can you guys start sending me pictures of yourselves in your favorite work outfits? I really think that’s what’s missing from the internet right now. Thanks have a great weekend, don’t think about work too much!

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Gabrielle Korn

Gabrielle Korn is a writer living in Los Angeles with her wife and dog.

Gabrielle has written 95 articles for us.


  1. I seriously cannot wear shoes without socks. Unless they’re sandals. Anyone else? It squicks me out/is smelly/I have orthotics that move from shoes to other shoes.

    are tiny cropped socks okay if you can barely see them?

  2. I enjoyed this very much since “What should I wear this summer?” was a recent question of mine. You mentioned that we should send you some pictures of our summer attire but where do I send them to?

  3. Very relevant to my life as I sit in our no-air-conditioning office, as it’s pushing 90 degrees outside, wearing my H&M short sleeved button up in a nice summery teal, navy calvin klein shorts (from cotsco), and the rainbow flip flops I wear every day. But H&M you guise, the fabric is so cheap that they have a bunch of super lightweight options and color selection to avoid pit stains.

  4. okay so summers here are above 100 on a pretty regular basis (we hit 113 last week! we cooled down into the mid 90s though after a storm) how does clothing work at all at that point? like is it even possible to wear a tie when you already feel like you’re melting. air conditioning around here is sparse and usually not that cool

  5. Yay for this article! Thank you Gabrielle!
    I do have a few suggestions for looking dapper in hot weather. Layers are a big part of why menswear looks so pulled together, but jackets and even vests can be too warm. Solution: your favorite crisp, breathable cotton longsleeved button-up as a blazer. And and and! if you wear it over a sleeveless collared button-down, it looks like a blazer and vest! I don’t have any links, but here’s what I did: coral sleeveless button-up from GUESS under a longsleeve periwinkle butterfly boyfriend button-up from Gap. Put the sleeveless collar on top of the longsleeve colar, and leave the longsleeve unbuttoned. Also helps to give some visual relief to your favorite crazy patterned longsleeve, just like a vest is supposed to do! Second trick for hot-weather dapper is just to pay more attention to details to stay looking sharp and professional when we’ve lost some style by taking off layers. Really sharp shoes, precise hair (I like the wet look for summer), awesome glasses, pocket squares, suspenders or a great summer belt like the colorful men’s belts from Gap (the photo above of model in cropped blue blue pants is wearing one; bonus they are reversible and only 10 bucks). Final tip: even though we’re wearing shorts instead of pants, keep a professional or menswear influence by choice of fabrics and patterns: again, Gap has some rad navy pinstripe shorts. Personally I find rayon, seersucker and linen says more resort wear than office, so I go for textiles a wallstreet lawyer would feel at home in, and if it’s shorts I can afford a darker (more formal) color that would be too warm if it were pants. Helps me stay on this side of deliberately and professionally styled, even though the garments themselves are more casual.

  6. Oh yeah and polo shirts. Dark or formal colors to avoid being too casual, and tuck them in, all buttons fastened. Bring in some color with the belt and/or shoes to express your personality. If you want to wear a bright orange shirt, for example, balance it with neutral shorts (navy is a summer staple; a cream pinstripe looks great with saturated darker colors). I sound like a cheeseball fashion dictator but this kind of stuff saved my life this summer (new scary job in Phoenix, 110 degrees and commuting by bus).

  7. So for those who wear shorts to work, do you remove leg hair and if not do you get any flak for it? I don’t see noticeable hair in any of the article pics.

    I’m not particularly butch but I like wearing menswear-styled shorts, and I don’t have the guts to go natural at work. I have really dark, obvious hair on my calves.

    • I’m not really masculine of center (and I tend to be more femme than anything with workwear), but I’ve just stopped giving a shit. I’ve only had one comment from a coworker, but she’s awful anyway.

  8. “As a people who, in general, know their way around some layers, it can be jarring to suddenly have to make an outfit out of as little clothing as possible.”

    YES, THIS.

    This is why I have such a problem with the warmer months and no one else I know seems to understand.

  9. Great tips, Gabrielle! Love the point about looking comfortable vs. buttoned up and sweaty.

    So that I don’t get sick of the same outfit every day but also avoid adding layers, I love pocket squares and lapel pins:


    AND here is one of my go-to summer work outfits




  10. You actually make it appear so easy with your presentation but I to find this matter to be really one thing that I believe I might never understand.

    It sort of feels too complicated and very large for me. I’m looking forward to your next
    publish, I will try to get the dangle of it!

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