Bringing summer to the office

IT’S a question that bothers all professional ladies in the summer months. How can we dress in a summery way but also appropriately for work? Summer dresses are a world of potential professional pitfalls – exposed flesh galore, stubbly legs on view, cleavage and the general appearance of being headed for a beach party rather than a meeting.

There are a few golden rules to follow: always make sure your underarms are covered – sleeveless is generally out. Also, you risk looking unserious in a floaty, unstructured get-up, so choose a dress with a waist and in a good, firm material. A belt can bring something lacking in shape together – or a belted dress like Debenhams’ pictured here looks both neat and elegant.

Poppy Frill Front Dress, Top Shop, £35,
Playful but modest and very summery. Not suitable for senior staff or board meetings, though.

Twill Shift in Pink, by Debenhams, £44
Perfectly smart for work: fitted and elegant. Very versatile.

Multi-Floral Dress, Dorothy Perkins, £28
Just long enough at the arm, this accentuates curves in style.

Print Dress, Banana Republic, £95
This dress screams individuality but just stays within the lines. An elegant outfit.

Yellow Dress, M&S, £45
Paired with a light cardi this goes from “garden party” to “office ray of sunshine”.

Paul and Joe Frill Collar Bi-Coloured Dress, £335
The satisfying match of a sharp skirt and shirt in the convenience of a dress.

Green Originals Maya Dress, £160
Utterly feminine, with a hint of exoticism restrained by the empire waist and black bottom.