Summer wear: Stay cool, classy at work

The summer season in Las Vegas always poses a fashion challenge to working women. Keeping with office dress codes while beating the heat can get tricky. Scorching temperatures may make you want to don cutoff denim shorts and flip-flops, but a little thing called professionalism might discourage you.

It doesn't have to be that hard, according to Patty Barba, owner of the franchised Patty's Closet fashion boutiques in town.

"What's so awesome about what's in style right now is that it really is very sophisticated," she says. "All the tops are super ladylike, not all about cleavage."

She cites the popular Peter Pan collar or a long-sleeved romantic blouse in a chiffon fabric as ways to stay both cool and classy from 9 to 5.

Of course, another temperature-related problem comes into play when deciding on workplace tops. Business establishments here tend to crank the air conditioner during summer months, which can have you going from blistering sun outside to a stark chill inside. This is where you will befriend the concept of layering.

A sleeveless button-up top or flowy cap-sleeve shirt will work well underneath an in-season cardigan. Look for large knits that offer ventilation or classic cardigans in colors that are hot for the summer. Barba recommends mint green or yellow. Oranges and corals are also on trend and offer a refreshing burst of color.

Keep in mind you can always find a good blazer in cotton or linen and "hang it on the back of your chair," if necessary, says Barba. High-waist linen slacks are another winning solution that won't stick to your skin and cause you to sweat. But, be sure to avoid drawstring styles here, as they'll veer into too casual territory.

Speaking of crossing that line, do not try to justify a maxi dress or skirt as officewear, Barba warns. "It gives the quintessential feeling of resortwear," she says. "Put a belted cargo jacket with it, a big hat and big sunglasses and you're ready for a safari in the jungle. It has to be more structured for business."

The trendy skirts that are mullet-style, short in the front and long in the back, can be an exception. The print and fabric will determine whether it's appropriate for the office. Avoid loud floral or Hawaiian prints and opt for microprints or graphic ones instead.

Save the fun stuff for casual Friday. If your office allows it, Bermuda shorts or even long city shorts can make for a professional look when paired with the right garments. Flat gladiator sandals and distressed V-neck T-shirts under lightweight blazers give the same stylish yet suitable look.

In the end, it's just like dressing for the office in the wintertime, except no tights, wool or ankle boots. OK, it's nothing like that. The truth is, every season presents its own dress code. Adjust it for the office and you'll beat the heat while keeping your job.

"Unfortunately, the weather is what it is here," Barba says. "You just have to make it work."

Contact fashion reporter Xazmin Garza at or 702-383-0477. Follow her on Twitter @startswithanx.