Karri Grant – Image Consultant
2015 J St., Suite 201
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dressing for work can be challenging in the capital city, especially when one has to travel throughout the day. Air conditioning can vary greatly even in different offices within the same building, and going outside to get to offsite meetings can leave anyone feeling and looking like a soggy, wrinkled mess. But image and wardrobe consultant Karri Grant’s clients have it made, both in and out of the shade. Grant keeps them looking sharp and feeling cool even in Sacramento’s triple-digit temperatures. She shares some helpful hints here. For more information, contact Grant or attend her upcoming Learning Exchange course on how to dress for travel and summer weather.
“I’m not a huge fan of cotton in the summer,” says Grant. Extreme cotton price increases have led to the use of lower quality cotton, which tends to shrink and pill. Instead, choose cotton and other fabrics that are blended with rayon or polyester. Traditional thinking about such man-made materials no longer applies, Grant promises that “this is not your grandmother’s polyester.” Today’s rayon and poly blends improve the breathability, structure and resistance to shrinkage that are missing in other fabrics. Virtually all types of work-appropriate clothes for both men and women are becoming available in such blends, making it easier to keep your cool in the workplace.
“Word of advice,” says Grant, “read the label first.” Some of the fabrics prized for being breathable and lightweight, including silk and linen, come with high price tags and require expensive dry-cleaning and/or extensive ironing. “And nothing you can do will stop linen or silk from wrinkling once you put it on,” she notes. Also, clothing made from 100-percent cotton tends to hold on to perspiration and other odors that are impossible to avoid in the heat. But when linen, silk or cotton are blended or lined with synthetics, the clothing stays cool, hangs beautifully, resists odors and wrinkling and can be washed at home without dry-cleaning.
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The indoor temp can fluctuate throughout the day as office air conditioners cycle on and off, so Grant recommends wearing lightweight layers that can be taken on and off as needed. A well-structured, sleeveless shell made from an airy blended fabric is classic, and is the perfect top for women to wear under a blazer or other layer. Grant knows that bringing appropriate layers to work every day can be a hassle, so she suggests keeping a light blazer or sweater in a neutral color at work for when it’s needed.
Wearing a dress to work can keep women from getting hot under the collar while still looking professional. Classic wrap dresses, or even faux wrap styles, made in blended breathable fabrics are comfortable and easy to wear. Of course, dresses or skirts must be at a work-appropriate length; Grant notes that hems ending at or just above the knee are flattering on women of any age or size. She suggests that most companies no longer require women to wear nylons, a definite change for the better when the temperature outside is climbing. Closed-toe shoes are still best for work; slingbacks, backless pumps or shoes with subtle peekaboo toes look stylish and allow air to circulate.
During the warmer weather, women should change how they groom and accessorize for work. Wearing less makeup both looks and feels better, and Grant suggests using the newer cosmetics formulas made without dangerous paraben chemicals. Pulling hair back into a soft, low ponytail is cool and still looks polished enough for the office. Heavy jewelry pieces should be left at home, but bracelets, now more noticeable with short-sleeved tops, can help pull an outfit together. Most importantly, says Grant, always carry a homemade “refresher kit.” Keep a small packet of wet-wipes or baby-wipes handy to refresh face, hands and feet when needed. Blotting paper can help recharge your look without washing away makeup, but there is no need to buy expensive, official ones. Grant uses hair curler papers as blotters, available in packs of 1,000 for around $3.
Her work can be found at Examiner.com.