Summer Business Travel: Packing to Keep Cool and Look Fabulous
I have always loved summer business travel. People are generally happier and more optimistic, and that often helps get business done more quickly. And you have a much larger range of business entertainment options, which help build relationships with customers and colleagues alike. The biggest challenge to summer business travel is packing for heat, humidity and a wide variety of business venues. Consider these tips for your next trip so you look and feel cool and in charge:
Consider fabrics. Stick with natural fibers for better wearability in the heat.
Tropical weight wool, wool Super 80s or Super 100s, silk twill and cotton twill make perfect hot weather suiting options and they travel well. Avoid linen and pure rayon. Instead chose a silk or cotton blend with these fibers to keep cool, but still look professional.
Silk charmeuse and silk crepe de chine are perfect summer blouse fabrics. And light-weight cotton shirting stays polished and can be worn to more active business entertainment venues as well.
Rayon jersey is perfect for dresses and tops. It’s more sophisticated and lighter than cotton jersey, and more cost-effective than silk jersey. Of course, in my world there is nothing as good as silk to beat the heat.
Avoid polyester, particularly as a lining fabric in a summer suit. It will make you sweaty and miserable in the heat and cold in air-conditioned conference rooms. Look for garments lined with silk or rayon Bemberg.
Add a shot of color. Summer is a great time to play with color. Often meeting attire is a bit more casual so adding color is appropriate. This season, classic blue and red are everywhere. And crisp gingham with navy or charcoal is a lovely summer alternative to a more traditional white blouse.
Consider the baseline color of bottoms and jackets. I am a sucker for an ivory suit even though it’s a terrible choice for business travel. I just love the contrast with charcoal or navy and it looks fabulous with nearly every accent color you can imagine. If I am staying someplace for more than a few nights I’ll risk it because I can likely dry-clean it on the road. Otherwise camel is a good alternative. You can easily mix either color in with your usual navy, charcoal, or black travel capsules. I got so hooked on camel a few years ago that I built a whole travel capsule around it and still swap it with my navy capsule for more variety. Learn more about wardrobe capsules here.
Need structure, but not a jacket? Consider adding a vest to your packing list. It adds polish and shape to your outfit, but is cooler than a jacket and has more visual presence than a cardigan. Just remember that if the guys are wearing jackets, you need to wear one, too. Jackets take up a lot of visual space at the meeting table, and you’ll need one to visually command your spot.
Skirts or pants? I personally find either option workable. I really think you should wear hose with a skirt; bare legs may be inappropriate in the business meeting. So, skirts are not necessarily the cooler option. A garter and stockings are a cooler alternative to pantyhose, and there are some decent shapewear options for warm weather out there. Here is my secret to preventing chafing in the summer. These can be worn over a garter as well as bare-legged. They also wick away perspiration.
Wishing you great success with your summer travels!
By Catherine Griffiths Scholze
October 1st, 2020
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