Beat the heat: How to dress up for work without worrying about sweat stains
It’s sweltering hot outside but freezing inside your office – deciding what to wear can be frustrating. Don’t sweat it – you can still feel cool without sacrificing your dress smarts with these tips.
It might be perennially “summer” in sunny Singapore, but the mid-year months can be particularly scorching, exacerbated by intermittent showers that only seem to elevate levels of humidity.
Worse still, it’s hot, wet and clammy outside, yet cold indoors where there’s full-blast air-conditioning – which makes dressing right for these varying conditions a highly frustrating exercise.
Wearing less and exposing more skin might be the most obvious way to fight the heat but what if your workplace or daily activities demand a dress code that’s more respectable than a tank top and shorts? Learn how to dress smarter and better by following these tips.
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There’s a reason why linen is always popular during the summer fashion season. Yes, it’s got that unique casual vibe and texture, but that’s not all – the material is also lightweight and breathable, which makes it excellent to wear in hot weather. Cotton and lightly knitted jerseys are great alternatives.
Don’t mistake lightness for breathability.
But don’t mistake lightness for breathability though – lightweight materials like polyester and nylon can actually trap heat. Even silk, which is widely thought to be a good hot-weather fabric, isn’t as breathable as cotton and linen. What’s more, it doesn’t react well to moisture and crinkles easily at the slightest contact with sweat, showing up in obvious patches.
Sportswear made of performance fabrics that wick sweat are helpful on casual days, while other high-tech materials, such as Uniqlo’s AIRism, make good inner wear if you need to layer under work wear – the AIRism fabric is thin, light, breathable, helps release trapped moisture and is also anti-odour and anti-bacterial.
WHITE IS COOLER
Here’s a useful bit of science: Black “attracts” more heat than other colours because it absorbs all wavelengths of light and converts them into heat, while white does the opposite and reflects all wavelengths of light.
White will keep you cool more so than any other hue in the colour spectrum.
No prizes, then, for guessing which colour you should wear during these hot months – white will keep you cool more so than any other hue in the colour spectrum, especially on days when you’d be spending more time out in the sun.
Colourful dressers will be glad to know that light and bright colours reflect light wavelengths the way white does, albeit in lesser degrees, depending on the shade concerned. Generally, the darker the colour, the more heat it will tend to create.
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SWEAT STAIN ALERT
Sweat marks on clothes are never a good look. No matter how much anti-perspirant you use, sometimes, breaking into a sweat is inevitable – but you can certainly alleviate the issue by picking clothes in the right hues.
Beige and grey, however, are to be avoided as far as possible, as these two colours display sweat marks like black paint on a white canvas.
White and black are your best options if sweat marks are your main peeve, as opposed to heat (see pointer above). When it comes to other colours between these two extremities though, the mid-range hues tend to be troublesome as moisture tends to show up clearly on them. The solution? Try to pick the lightest or darkest shades of the colour of your preference.
Beige and grey, however, are to be avoided as far as possible, as these two colours display sweat marks like black paint on a white canvas – save these for the cooler months near the end of the year.
Alternatively, you can try using underarm sweat shields, which are disposable pads that stick to your skin or your clothes and absorb sweat so that it doesn’t leave embarrassing marks on the fabric.
Tanks and shorts may be summer-appropriate but unfortunately aren’t acceptable in most workplaces or, for that matter, many other public environments or social situations.
Layers can work well even in hot weather.
Unless you’re heading out to Bali or going biking or picnicking during the weekend, you really can’t use the heat as an excuse to put that much skin on display. If you must wear them, build a balanced look by pairing them with separates that offer more coverage so that you won’t look like you’re permanently on a beach vacay.
Layers can work well even in hot weather. A light jacket will come in useful when entering spaces with sub-zero air-conditioning and can be whipped off easily when you’re heading back out into the heat.
The fit of your clothes is crucial when it comes to comfort in soaring temperatures. A looser fit, particularly around the shoulders, underarms and torso, allows better ventilation and won’t trap sweat against your skin and cause irritation. More importantly, better airflow underneath your clothes will prevent odours from building.
Go for open and wide necklines as far as possible – keeping your collarbone and the back of the neck exposed will help bring down your body temperature. Sleeveless styles are excellent but make sure the armholes are wide enough to offer ventilation.
Go for open and wide necklines as far as possible – keeping your collarbone and the back of the neck exposed will help bring down your body temperature.
Skin-tight jeans are nearly impossible to wear this time of year – we applaud you if you can even put them on in our highly humid conditions. For men who are used to wearing their work shirts quite fitted, going a size up is a good idea. Doing that will also help keep sweat marks at bay.
ALL IN THE FEET
Your feet have a big impact on your body temperature and is where your body offloads heat when required to. This could explain why you're feeling hot even if you're already keeping it light in terms of clothing – your shoes could be preventing the heat regulation from happening.
Your shoes could be preventing the heat regulation from happening.
Sandals and lightweight, breathable shoes are naturally your best choices of footwear when it's hot out. Women have it easier when it comes to professional-looking shoes for work – swap out your pumps for peep-toed shoes or strappy heels. Men who work in a corporate environment might not have much choice in this area, but can opt for socks that are thinner and made out of cotton.
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