Every summer, us Londoners battle with the outfit dilemmas that commuting to work causes: how are you meant to decide what to wear when it’s raining outside, 30 degrees on the central line and -10 in your AC filled office – I’ll tell you how, with difficulty. And this year, I’m pretty sure even non-Londoners will undoubtedly be feeling the style struggle as the weather seems to fluctuate from torrential downpours to blinding sun all in the space of 10 minutes, and don’t even get me started on the thunder storms that seem to keep arising out of nowhere.
As someone who checks the weather app multiple times an hour in the hope it’ll give me some answers (heads up: it usually doesn’t) I’ve instead come up with some go-to outfit combinations that are designed to see me through multiple weathers in just one day. The key: smart layering in the form of light fabrics, but lots of them.
Alongside the key items below, every one of these combinations will be topped with a trench coat, because this is the UK after all, and the all-weather handbag essentials of an umbrella, sunglasses and an SPF face mist. After all, it’s good to be prepared, right?
Look 1: A jacket + mini dress + boots
Minis may not seem at home in the office but if styled correctly they can totally work and ensure you master every climate you come across. Opt for a floaty style for easy-breezy wearing paired with knee high boots, for coverage and to embrace the boho trend.
As always, a jacket is essential because even if the sun’s shining when you leave the house there’s a high chance it won’t be when you arrive at the office and even less of a chance the air con will have been altered to adapt to your summer wardrobe switchover. I’d opt for a tailored bomber jacket to give a smart contrast to the softness of the dress.
Look 2: A shirt + vest + wide leg trousers
I don’t think there’s any outfit that isn’t made better by the addition of a crisp shirt, case in point this tailored fit. Wide leg trousers are my go-to at this time of year as the shape offers ample movement (and air flow) yet you’re not left vulnerable to the elements like when wearing a dress or skirt.
I’d pair them with a ribbed vest, as it’s slightly thicker than a simple cotton or slinky fabric vest. Topped off with a breathable cotton shirt and you’ve got all the layers you need to see you through whatever the day brings.
Look 3: A knit vest + jeans
You’ll notice there’s a sleeveless theme with many of these outfit combinations mostly because I find shedding a jacket much more effective if I’m sleeve-free underneath. Enter the sleeveless knit: the perfect hybrid between keeping cosy and spring summer dressing.
This one from Marks & Spencer is the ideal option as the loose weave has a crochet-esque feel about it, making it great for this time or year, yet the knit is still thick enough that you won’t be left shivering if you venture to a pub garden for after work drinks. I’d wear it with a pair of jeans made from stiff denim and rain-proof loafers, just in case things take a turn.
Look 4: A cropped jacket + shirt dress + boots
Shirt dresses are a workwear staple and they’re perfect for those days when you’re not quite sure what the weather will throw at you (AKA every day in the UK). Opt for a three-quarter-length sleeve, ideally in a wide shape, to hit that perfect in-between temp of warm yet not stifling.
Also, don’t forget a jacket, because if you do you’ll probably be made to pay for it later. A denim jacket is a summer go-to for a reason but if your office is more formal an oversized blazer will also fit the bill.
Look 5: A pyjama co-ord (+ an invisible vest)
I’ll probably regret admitting this, but to combat the current all over the place weather I’ve decided to take a leaf out of my grandad’s style book and have begun incorporating a vest into my underwear arsenal. It may sound old fashioned, but there’s a lot to be said for adding an extra layer under ultra-light fabrics like a satin shirt.
Rather than the old school ribbed variety, however, my go-to features a low neck (so as nobody knows the fashion faux pas I’m committing), a seamless design and slight stretch for added comfort. I like to layer it under shirts and co-ords, then if you get too warm you can simply unbutton the shirt and wear it as a jacket.
Look 6: A blazer + vest + slip skirt
A slip skirt is one of those key all-weather items, light enough to keep you cool but also offering coverage if the wind or rain decides to strike. This season, it’s all about the maxi length, which is music to my ears, as the longer length means extra warmth BUT it’s also light enough to slide up to flash a little ankle if you find yourself overheating (a move that makes me feel like I’m channeling the young Lady Danbury but is essential on hot tube trains).
I’d pair it with a vest, because once again the lack of sleeves are useful, but top it off with a blazer for an added layer. On extra cold days, I’ve also been known to add a sneaky pair of cycling shorts underneath my skirt but I’m hoping those days are behind us as we creep closer to summer.