Reader Question: I’m starting a new position at work where I’ll need to follow a more formal dress code. The men will almost always wear a blazer, sometimes a full suit. The problem is: I’m a sweaty Betty, regardless of temperature or activity level… Even disregarding the sweat marks, blazers and dresses that are dry clean only aren’t sustainable for me. I wish I could wear tailored jackets! I just need clothes that I can wash, often. How can I dress for a business dress code using washable clothes?
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1. What Lies Underneath?
Firstly, you want to absorb what sweat you can, not in your clothing, but instead, in sweat pads so that your clothes don’t end up with sweat marks on them while you’re at work, which can make you feel less than professional.
There are also sweatproof undershirts for women that you may want to consider as well.
2. Colours Matter
There are colours that really show sweat marks – basically, anything that is not super light or dark is more likely to show sweat stains.
Solid colours also show more than patterns – so rather than plain, make your work blouses and shirts patterned options.
3. Cool Fabrics
Synthetic fibres, although they dry faster than natural ones, can make you feel hotter and tend to hold smells more than natural fibres.
Looser breathable fabrics are a great option. Did you know that wool has antibacterial properties and needs much less washing/dry-cleaning than other fabrics? You need to look for “cool wool” if you are going to be wearing it in summer.
Cotton is a great fabric as it allows air to move through it and is breathable, but it will get wet, so avoid medium and darker colours and go for light coloured garments in cotton fabrics which won’t show sweat stains.
Linen is another great fabric for hot people, but it crushes easily and may not be your best option for a work outfit.
Bamboo can feel cool to wear and is super comfortable – again go for lighter colours so any sweat stains don’t show.
Silk is another breathable option and is great for blouses and a more professional appearance.
Make sure your fabrics are machine washable!
4. Loose Fit
Don’t wear clothes that hug your body, instead, look for clothes that have a looser fit – particularly around the underarms.
5. Wear a Collar
A collared garment always looks more professional than a shirt without a collar. So if you can’t wear layers such as a jacket, then wear collared shirts and blouses instead.
6. Wear a Dress
A dress can also give a more professional appearance and can be an easy garment to wear to work. Again, patterns are your friend to stop any sweat stains from showing through.
More Tips on Dressing to Look Professional