Summer heat still requires business attire

Dressing professionally may seem like an impossible task during a 100-degree heat wave. But career credibility requires following departmental appearance policies, say GHSU officials.

Some areas of the enterprise require rigid and specific dress codes – such as the College of Dental Medicine, which sent out an email reminder to the campus two weeks ago. Others relax some rules to compensate for the summer heat.

“We try to stay as professional as possible, but [we] don’t require anyone to be in three-piece suits and hose and heels,” said Shannon Williams, Administrative Assistant in the Medical College of Georgia Dean’s Office. “Sometimes we have to adjust a
little to our environment. But if we’re careful, we can maintain a professional appearance.”

Her work area permits switching from a button-down and tie to a collared shirt, and or to a sleeveless shell under suit jackets. But strappy shirts, denim and flip-flops are frowned upon. If it can be worn to lunch at a nice restaurant, it is probably acceptable.

Jackie Hogue, Business Operations Director for the College of Nursing, said simply that the college does not adjust its dress
code for the summer.

“We have a business professional dress code and it’s in effect year-round,” she said.

Employees in the College of Allied Health Sciences can find summer dress a bit of a conundrum, said Strategic Planning
Administrator Pam Witter, because the Health Sciences Building may be as much as 30 degrees cooler than seasonal temperatures.

“But even students are expected to dress professionally when they come to class,” Witter said. So the department does not lower the standard for employees. For comfort, she recommends dressing in layers.

“So if you’re in a meeting and need a jacket, you’re dressed appropriately. But you can remove the jacket or cardigan when you’re walking across campus or working in your office,” she said.

Like the other colleges, the College of Graduate Studies adheres to a professional dress code year-round, said Officer Manager
Marvis Baynham.

“I think it’s a great idea to keep an extra jacket or cardigan in your office, just in case,” Baynham said. An extra pair of dress shoes might also come in handy.

MCGHI also does not relax its dress code for the summer heat, according to Vice President of Human Resources Derek Carissimi. “We really don’t make any official changes to the appearance code policy from season to season,” he said.

Because many positions require uniforms, there isn’t much wiggle room. So Carissimi recommends planning and pacing
as the key to keeping cool. He tries to schedule his day so that meetings across campus take place in the mornings and close together.

“I give myself enough time so that I’m on schedule and not rushing in the heat,” he said. He may also cut through buildings, rather than walking entirely outdoors.

Employees should check with the area managers for their department’s seasonal guidelines. And Williams said, “If an employee is unsure if an item of clothing is appropriate for work, it’s probably not.”

Tips for Summer Professional Dressing

• Avoid sandals, flip-flops, visible straps and short pants.
• Choose fabric light in color and weight.
• Try crisp white and neutrals, summery seersucker, light linen and poplin.
• Layer a short-sleeved or sleeveless shirt under suit separates.
• Keep accessories to a minimum.
• Schedule walks across campus for early morning.
• Cluster meetings to reduce number of cross-campus runs.


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