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Summer style do's and don'ts for the office

Friday - 6/27/2014, 6:42am  ET

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Dressing conservatively in the summer heat can be a challenge. Lifestyle and fashion bloggers from 52 Thursdays offer tips on how you can look good and stay cool. (Courtesy 52 Thursdays)

WASHINGTON -- There's only one word that describes D.C. in the summer, and that's "hot."

When temperatures soar and the haze and humidity make it hard to breathe, there's no shame in wanting to shed extra layers of clothing to keep cool.

But don't let D.C.'s summer heat and humidity put you in a sticky situation when it comes to office dress code policies. Sarah Gargagliano-Phillips and Michelle Marcinowski, fashion and lifestyle bloggers for their website 52 Thursdays, offer advice on what's appropriate -- and what's not -- for work in the summer.

Just Say ‘No' to Flip-Flops

Step through Metro's sliding doors on any summer morning and you'll surely spot some flip-flops. If you're guilty of sporting the summer staple on your weekday commute, just make sure you change your shoes before you get into the office.

"Flip-flops are never appropriate in any work environment, unless, of course, you work at the beach or the pool," Marcinowski says.

Instead, she recommends a basic wedge or a chunky heel, both of which are comfortable and stylish.

"Try to do a wedge that's anywhere from half an inch to 1 inch," Marcinowski says. There are plenty of options when it comes to flat sandals, too. Look for styles that have straps or cutouts, which, Marcinowski says, add personality to an outfit.

The ‘Dress' Code

On a hot day, there's nothing more practical than a short dress. But before you throw one on and head out the door to work, Gargagliano-Phillips recommends you do a quick test -- one she refers to as "the hand rule."

"Drop your arm to your side. Where your fingertips reach, that will give you an idea of where a work-appropriate dress should fall," she says.

However, there is an exception to this rule: Gargagliano-Phillips says the hem can be higher than your fingertips if you're wearing a shift dress with a high neckline.

"But if you're wearing a dress with a deeper V-neck, we definitely suggest you keep your dress a little bit longer so you're not giving your co-workers the wrong idea," she says.

Being mindful of the top of your dress is just as important as minding the hemline. Gargagliano-Phillips says any dress you wear to work should have straps. But there's an exception to this rule as well.

"You can wear a strapless or a thin-strap dress, layered with a vest overtop or a cardigan," she says. "This will help you cover up a bit more and also add an extra style element to your outfit."

Adding these layers to a long maxi dress creates the perfect outfit for a casual Friday. But dresses with low backs our cutouts should be saved for the weekend or a night out.

If you're tired of wearing a basic cardigan, Gargagliano-Phillips suggests layering a white Oxford shirt over your outfit to cover your arms and shoulders.

"Roll up the sleeves a little bit and then you can tie it up over your dress or tuck in the sides with a belt for a really preppy look," she says.

No Sweat: You Can Wear Pants Too

If you want to mix up your summer look beyond skirts and dresses, a few options for pants will keep you cool on your commute.

Gargagliano-Phillips says a skinny cropped pant is a must during summer months.

"You can dress them up with a dressy T-shirt and a statement necklace; it's the perfect office combination," she says.

Another idea is a lightweight, wide-leg trouser. Gargagliano-Phillips suggests pairing this style with a sleeveless shirt or short-sleeve top.

"Make sure you pick a fabric that's breezy and that won't get you too hot in the summer heat," she says.

Summer Accessories

Marcinowski and Gargagliano-Phillips are both big fans of a statement necklace.

"It's always a must-have piece, but especially in the summertime to elevate a simple look," Marcinowski says. "Nobody wants to throw on another layering element when it's hot out, but a basic dress or a top and a bottom can be really boring, so adding a fun, colorful, bold necklace will really kick up your style a lot and create that ‘wow' factor."

There's need to lug around extra weight in the heat with a big, heavy bag. Marcinowski says a nude cross-body is perfect for summer. It goes with everything and is easy to carry around.

Looking for a way to add a pop of color or a pattern to your outfit? Try a lightweight scarf.

"You can wear it loosely around the neck or wrapped around your shoulders in the office when the air conditioner is just a little too cold," Marcinowski says.

Editor's Note: Follow Sarah and Michelle on their 52 Thursdays blog, Twitter and Instagram.

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