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How To Wear Tank Tops To The Office Without Breaking The Dress Code

Anything that will serve as a reprieve from this unforgiving heat
by Dyan Sheryl Carolino | Mar 15, 2017
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It’s hot out. And in the sticky summer heat, you might just be tempted to wear a sando to work. From a corporate standpoint, however, the “sun’s out guns out” staple is not exactly office-appropriate, and can remind people that you're better off with a six-pack beer—not of a six-figure salary. Plus, this armpit-baring feat of engineering can be cut way too low to show your chest hair, or even be sheer enough to show off your nipples. It's just not cool, man. 

But if you really can't be bothered to put a proper shirt on because of the weather, the solution is simple—layer your tank top to achieve a proper workplace ensemble.

A lightweight Blazer is your best friend

One of the best pieces to go with a tank top is a blazer. But don’t choose a highly structured blazer, as there’s going to be a disconnect. A tank top will look better with lightweight, unstructured blazers, which go well with a decent pair of casual chinos or jeans.

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Make sure it has a slightly more relaxed and loose fit than you would normally choose for the office, too. This will promote air circulation, which aids in the removal of both heat and sweat.

Go for cotton and linen blends, as they have breathable open weaves and the ability to regulate body temperature. Avoid blazers with linings, as the linings may fry you like an egg even if you have a lightweight sando underneath.

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Remember that dressing for summer is all about keeping it light and comfortable, and that your outer layer should share the same “breezy” air as the tank top itself.

Formal or smart casual?

Check your office dress code. If it leans toward formal, pair your sleeveless top with a slim-cut suit, seasonal tie, and maybe leather Derbies. If you’re more smart casual, layer the tank top with a cardigan and pair with rolled up chinos, as well as slip-on suede loafers.

Yes, a lightweight cardigan is another must-own piece if you wish to don a tank to the office.

Classic Bomber Jacket

If your office leans toward smart casual, a classic waist length, zip-up bomber is another essential.

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Key bomber jacket trends this year include waxed canvas/linen and cotton-twill blends; the former is water resistant but still light and breathable, and that’s perfect if the weather suddenly changes from hot and humid to windy and rainy.

Try Overshirts

Overshirts, more commonly known as “shackets,” are the Swiss Army knife of stylish men. They're lighter than a jacket but tend to be a little thicker than your average shirt. It also has classic outwear details such as military-style epaulettes and multiple pockets.

Plus, shackets are office-appropriate, too. If it’s sweltering hot outside and you need to commute, just wear your sando and put on the overshirt once you need to go about your daily tasks. Don’t worry—they are often easy to fold up and throw into your bag.


Play with texture

Your cotton sando is already the key piece, so for texture’s sake, wear different types of cotton, such as brushed, waxed, and dyed to set each piece apart.

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Apply contrast to your pants, too. If you’re wearing a linen jacket over your top and pair that with a separate linen jacket, it’s going to look a bit weird. That’s like wearing a jacket and pants from different suits. Remember that the whole outfit will look weird when there is not enough contrast.

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Use Colors and Patterns

Work with colors, shades, patterns, and even statement prints to disguise your sleeveless-ness.

You can go print-on-print (printed sando and printed blazer/cardigan), too, but make sure the patterns are not too busy. If you look like a walking abstract painting, change.

Bonus: Accessorize and Groom

Accessorize, but choose accents that add some formality and visual variety to your outfit, like a necklace or a watch. Don’t overaccessorize, however, if your sando and blazer/jacket/cardigan are already loud, but do use them if you have a fairly monochromatic outfit.

Pay attention to your grooming, too. Remember that the sando already exudes ruggedness, so keep your hair short and clean and facial hair shaved.

When in doubt, don’t. If you think that underneath the blazer and all the layers, your sando still looks inappropriate for the office, it probably is. Trust, you don't want to be explaining your exposed armpit hair to HR.

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