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7 Fashion Faux Pas to Avoid on Summer Fridays

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Summer is finally here which means Summer Fridays are coming into play. For adults, Summer Fridays are pretty much the equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (minus all that gratuitous killing of innocent children). For some offices they let you take off every or every other Friday, some let out at noon, some permit a more casual dress code, etc. We will talk about how to prepare for Summer Fridays, but before you go out and buy your summer clothes, I think we need to talk about what you can and cannot wear to the office on casual Friday.

The thing is, sometimes people interpret “casual” as “my audition outfit for The Jersey Shore.” And please don’t think I am talking down to you. One summer, on a particularly hot day, I was scrambling for something to wear because I was in the middle of moving and tired, so I put on this cute little flimsy sundress—though I feel like the term “dress” is a little bit generous. It was essentially a beach cover-up. Surprisingly, though, my boss wasn’t upset about that. He was more concerned with my choice of footwear: a gold thong sandal. This shows dress code can change in every office. If you work in fashion, it may be absolutely fine for you to wear a bralet and jean shorts. If you’re a lawyer, that probably is not going to fly.

If you aren’t sure, we say stick to this list:

1. Sunglasses inside

You aren’t a celebrity (and they look silly too), so save the aviators and the wayfarers for your lunch outside. Even if you put them on your head it just connotes casualness. Plus, if you’re like me, you will spend five minutes looking for them when you actually need them because you forgot they were on your head.

2. Flip-flops

Now, like most Americans I am completely devoted to my flip-flops and wear them for fine dining in the summer. But if you think about flip-flops, they are truly the most casual of shoes. They were too casual to even get the name “sandal.”

And I get that flip-flops have become like a part of society. See, years ago they were really only thought of as beach shoes, but then, somewhere in the ’90s when a lot of weird stuff started happening, flip-flops evolved from strictly a beach shoe and shower shoe to a college campus shoe. I would have to say the biggest moment for flip-flops was when the Northwestern Women’s Lacrosse team all wore flip-flops to the White House. They were photographed with President Bush wearing cute skirts and tops and flippers (yup, because flip-flops was too hard to say). So many people thought that if you were dressed up on top you could get away with wearing flip-flops.

Well, not so much.“Flip-flops are for the pool, the beach and barbecues. I’m all for comfort, but there are plenty of comfortable, stylish shoe alternative that will help you look polished and professional. Your co-workers will thank you,” says Diana Baros, founder and editor of The Budget Babe. Plus, flip-flops can be noisy and a little smelly. And as someone who insisted on putting on flip-flops the moment I left the office and then proceeded to walk around New York City for hours, I can’t say the stress fracture and toe infection I had were worth it.

3. Short shorts

There will always be”The Great Shorts at Work Debat,” but with shorts you really need to read the environment of your office. If it is a hip, young startup, go for it. But I will even say make sure they are nice-looking shorts and not your jean cut-offs. If you are worried, maybe wear a longer Bermuda short and see how that goes.

4. Crop tops

Now, usually this isn’t that much of an issue except right now crop tops are at the height of fashion. If you have a flat stomach either because you’ve been doing your crunches religiously or you were just blessed with good genes, I say congrats! But don’t show them off inside the office!

5. See-through anything

We know it is going to be really hot this summer because the earth is definitely dying, and yes, that pretty-much-see-through white blouse sounds like the only thing you may not sweat in, but the entire office does not need to see your physical assets—just your professional ones.

6. Rompers

Sadly, rompers have become a summer staple in the last few years. It’s like someone said, “You know who always looks chic? Babies in their onesies. Let’s make them for grownups.” A few brands have very cute ones, but rompers still fall in that weird gray area between a tiny dress and a tiny pair of shorts.

Plus, there are just a few basic problems. Rompers tend to confuse people. They don’t understand that the shorts and top are connected or why you would voluntarily choose to wear something called a romper. This should not be the subject of a business meeting.

Also, you have to get pretty much completely naked every time you go to the bathroom. Any outfit that requires you to strip down almost completely just seems not work appropriate.

7. Flimsy dresses

Again, it depends on your office, but we all know the difference between a flimsy dress and a good dress in which you don’t have to worry about having a major Marilyn Monroe moment if you step over a grate, stand near a fan, or walk too fast. Also, most offices in the summer tend to be freezing so you are going to end up having to add seven layers to that dress anyway.

What other fashion faux pas should you avoid on Summer Fridays? Tell us in the comments!

Ask Dustee Jenkins, Vice President of Public Relations at Target, about what rules you should keep in mind when dressing for work in the summer!

Photo: Getty Images


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I'm looking forward to the "great short debate" as I am firmly against shorts at work regardless of the office environment or how "nice" the shorts are. I feel like it conveys a casualness beyond the accepted line. Plus, to your point, offices are always so COLD!

Eep! I've definitely been guilty of flip-flops in the office, but I try to stick to a bit dressier ones. I like the ones Accessorize has!


Hey Tracey! I would love to hear more of your thoughts on shorts in the office! Could you email me at Let's discuss!

This bit made me chuckle: "Also, you have to get pretty much completely naked every time you go to the bathroom. Any outfit that requires you to strip down almost completely just seems not work appropriate."

I never thought about that, but it is a very good point! Overall, great article!

Thank you so much for your comments on flip-flops! I'm an anti-flip-flop crusader, so it's good to hear it from someone else :). The old rule was that open-toe shoes at all of any kind are unprofessional--that rule is pretty much moot these days, but I still think flip-flops are over the line in most offices.

I laughed out loud at your comments about rompers! I've never understood them either!

I am so guilty of wearing my sunglasses on top of my head all times of the year. I'll walk through the door, push them up, and leave them there until I realize my faux pas. Luckily, my office is pretty lax, but I hate when I catch myself doing it.

I loved this quote, too! So true!

Love the article, especially the bit on flip-flops. My office is extremely casual, I can pretty much wear everything on this list, but seeing flip-flops in the office still freaks me out.
I must say, I don't mind rompers in the office though. There are enough rompers and ways in which to wear them that no one should feel the need to discuss how they work. Plus, I have yet to meet someone who gets confused about them. Valid point about having to get down to your skivvies in order to take a bathroom break, though!

GREAT advice for us all! The only thing I would add is to avoid wearing dresses and skirts short enough to become your latest wedgie. I've seen women and girls stand up only to become greatly embarrassed once they realize things are a bit breezier than before. A good rule of thumb is to wear things the length of your fingertips when your arms are at your side or longer. A good tip: Look into a mirror and ask yourself if YOU would take someone seriously (in a professional sense) if they were dressed as you are. If not, err on the side of caution, and head back to the closet!

Meghan Maloney
Meghan Maloney

One thing that really bothers me is when someone decides to wear a tank top/sleeveless shirt/sleeveless dress and their bra straps are showing. Nobody should be able to see your undergarments!

I totally agree--that's one of my pet peeves too!

As you mentioned, you really have to consider your office environment - is it corporate or a startup? law firm or fashion office? Obviously, while a lawyer that shows up to court in a shorts suit ensemble might get some odd glances, the same look in a more playful and laid back environment is very crisp and of-the-moment. A longer, more giving pair also has the appeal of a skirt and can be more comfortable. While cut-offs, and a great blazer paired with a pair of killer heels might work in a fashion pr office, it won't work in others. If you consider length of the shorts and your particular work place, you can find some amazing options at different price points. The WSJ did a great article on this trend a few seasons back:
( The more appropriate circle skirt has made a big comeback, but the short suit is still rocking the magazines and fashion lines. However, gym, beach or hiking shorts should be reserved for, well, the gym, beach and hiking. And as far as flip flops are concerned, leave them in the sand or at the very least, make like Superman and do a quick change when you get off the subway.

Hudson Riddle
Hudson Riddle

You have a nice office there. Your company does allow short shorts and see through dresses. Sunglasses + Flip Flops + Very Short Shorts + See Through shirt + Good office = Happy GIRL!

Same here! However at my law firm when the temperature hits 100+ outside they allow shorts in the office. I'm still a new employee, but I feel that shorts are always a no-go in the office. There are other alternatives to dressing for the office on a super hot day, e.g. cute dress, skirt/top combo, etc. Our office has a very lax dress code and often most of the women dress inappropriately for the office. I make it a point not to cave into the trends and stick to my wardrobe convictions.

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