The ultimate summer business-casual wardrobe

St. Louis humidity can make dressing for work a challenge, but there’s no need to sweat over what to wear this season. From effortless business-casual chic to breathable summer fabrics, there are plenty of versatile, work-appropriate styles to choose during the warmer months this year.

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Photo courtesy of Descendant

According to Julia Leenig, owner of Descendant in Webster Groves, two of these on-trend pieces are the perfect addition to any work capsule wardrobe. “Our go-to suggestions are always a classic blazer and a white oxford shirt,” she says. “Both of these pieces polish up any look and can be used over and over again without seeming repetitive.”

Curating a simple, balanced wardrobe with classic pieces is an easy way to feel like you have more options when getting dressed for work, Leenig says, as they can be mixed and matched with pieces you already own. A versatile blazer, for example, can be paired with jeans, shorts or professional trousers to create fresh combinations of polished workday looks, and a classic white shirt can be tucked into trousers or layered for comfortability. The possibilities are endless – and not limited to the office.

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Photo courtesy of Bri Styles

“We love tossing a black blazer over the shoulder at night or using a white shirt for a swim cover-up during the day,” Leenig adds. “Depending on your workplace, we also love pairing trouser style shorts with a blazer. It’s a little bit unexpected and feels fresh!”

For Bri Maxwell, a St. Louis-based personal stylist, choosing the right fabric is essential for creating a comfortable business-casual wardrobe during the summer. “I like to put clients in more natural fabrics during the summer,” she says. “I look for fabrics like linen, silk, Tencel, cotton or even cotton blend because they breathe a little bit better and fit a little looser on the body.”

To beat the heat and still look chic, Maxwell recommends adding a crisp, poplin-style shirt dress to your workwear rotation – a universally flattering, button-down cotton piece with enough breathability to prevent sweating. For offices that tend to blast the AC, finding a lightweight, over-the-shoulder cardigan can be a great transitional item for layering during the summer.

Breathable shoes are also important for staying comfortable in the heat – just make sure you don’t have too much foot exposed, Maxwell warns. Instead of flashing co-workers your entire pedicure, keep it classy with wide strap sandals or sling-back heels that are comfortable for all-day wear but still cover the toes.

Dressing for the office doesn’t mean you can’t get creative and express your unique style. In fact, Maxwell says that bright colors and bold prints are a huge trend this summer.

“Don’t be afraid to stand out,” she says. “One of my clients recently spoke at a national conference for the first time. We chose a traditional tailored suit in a bright color for her speech in order to help her look bold, confident and still seasonally appropriate. She looked professional, put-together and beautifully unique.”

Accessories are another great way to elevate a summer business-casual wardrobe. Adding jewelry like statement earrings and fun necklaces immediately boosts confidence for big business meetings and presentations, and wide belts are guaranteed to take any office look to the next level.

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Photo courtesy of Descendant

“Start with classic pieces and make sure they fit really, really well,” Maxwell adds. “Look for fabric that’s seasonally appropriate, wide-leg pants, shirt dresses and versatile, looser-fit blazers in colors that work for a variety of occasions. Bold colors and easy silhouettes are on-trend for workwear this summer.”

Bri Styles, 612-385-4558,,

Descendant, 8715 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves,,


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