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Thread: Is linen too casual for the office?

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    Question Is linen too casual for the office?

    Hello all,

    Given the recent heat wave affecting several of us, do you find it inappropriate to wear a linen shirt to the office? How do you keep cool while maintaining a professional look?

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    I am currently wearing a linen shirt at my office. I'm in Texas, where we don't so much have "heat waves" as much as "perpetual summer", so we can get away with more temperature-regulating materials on a regular basis.

    As long as your shirt isn't a diaphanous white linen shirt where everyone can see your, uh, nipular region (to quote Chandler Bing), I think you should be OK, provided your dress code is at most business casual.

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    Super Moderator LesserBlackDog's Avatar
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    Depends 100% on what your office dress code (formal or informal) is.

    In a business casual office, I'd say absolutely linen is fine, either pants or shirt, as long as it's not too sheer (as @MediumTex mentioned above). Just make sure they are reasonably well-pressed before the day starts. They're gonna get wrinkly but you shouldn't look like a big raisin from hour one.

    In a more conservative environment, YMMV. In a true conservative business dress, suit-and-tie every day type of environment, linen is probably a no-no except in very limited circumstances like if you've got some kind of casual Friday thing going on.

    In my workplace we sort of run the gamut depending on the day, anything from conservative business dress for trial to business casual (sometimes even lower) if it's a non-court day, and lots of middling formality jacket-and-tie combos for more mundane court appearances, client meetings, etc. In my situation I would not (and do not) hesitate to wear linen, whether shirt or pants or jacket or full suit or some combination thereof, but not for a trial or other major hearing. I've got a banded collar linen shirt that I wear casually on non-court days, as well as a button-down linen shirt and a linen blend jacket that are part of my regular court rotation. I've previously worn linen blend trousers (though I don't currently own any that fit) and would be fine wearing a linen or linen blend suit if I owned one.
    Ben

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    @LesserBlackDog has it right. It depends a lot on your environment. Itís stupid hot and humid in dc right now but Iím wearing still a shirt and tie (jacket on the chair). Mostly because the guys here insist on blasting the AC in meetings and itís freezing.

    When I used to walk to work I combatted it a few ways:
    - cold shower in the am. Donít start the day off hot
    - a little gold bond or other powder in the skin touching regions. Helped a ton control moisture.
    - carry the tie and jacket and put them on when in the office
    - I also keep an extra spray deodorant in the desk just in case. Spray is a lot easier in the office to apply

    I do a lot of the same items this summer as taking my kid to daycare (aka lugging a kid plus car seat) all the way to his building from the car in this heat can start the sweat train.

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    You could also get cotton shits in a leno or other open weave. They're much cooler than a broadcloth or twill as the air passes through them, but they can be hard to find. I get mine a Kamakura.

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    Super Moderator DocDave's Avatar
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    I'm on the fence on this one. Our office is suit and tie. The other day I was getting dressed for work and I pulled out the linen shirt. After thinking about it for a bit I went for a 'regular' dress shirt.

    I opted for the regular shirt because I was worried about not looking professional and thought I might have a meeting with some senior management - I didn't. Our office is going 'summer office casual' for the month of August, so I'll likely wear the linen shirt then, when no tie is needed.

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    Most likely linen is fine, shirt or pants. I typically don't like to wear it without a jacket or something over it however. The key is don't just throw on your "vacation" linen, instead make sure they are linen versions of normal office staples.

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    I work in a government office as a contractor, where most of my clients dress in ill-fitting suits/dress shirts/polos M-Th and it's common to see untucked Hawaiian shirts on Fridays. With that said, my company expects us to dress up, but also around the level as our clients. I typically wear a white/blue cotton dress shirt, tie, and dress chino/slacks, with dress shoes.

    Given how odd the dress code appears to be, I'm still unsure if I can comfortably wear linen in my cubicle.

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    I think we may be overthinking about how much attention people are giving to us. A linen dress shirt worn under a jacket with a tie probably wouldn't be noticed even in a conservative environment.

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    Varsity Member armedferret's Avatar
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    Most people (civilians that is) where I work consider acid-washed levi's and a legend of zelda t-shirt as "business formal" so....I'd say it really depends on your office environment rather than a hard-and-fast rule.

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