why summer in the office is a terrible thing

Summer: the worst season.

And that’s true at work, especially — where summer brings battles over the thermostat, the challenge of looking professional when sweat is encasing your body, and a coworker who is inexplicably wearing a midriff-revealing top.

Here are eight of the biggest aggravations that you’ll find in nearly every workplace this summer.

1. Air conditioning wars. The thermostat is often ground zero for office tensions in the summer. On one side of the battle are the people who freeze in overly air-conditioned offices and end up wearing cardigans to stay warm, despite sweltering temperatures outside. And on the other side are the sweating, nearly broiling workers who can’t understand why the thermostat can’t be turned down even lower. The result? A constant raising and lowering of the temperature as each side battles for domination.

2. Colleagues who are showing too much skin. Some people’s idea of professional dress falls apart completely in the summer, and suddenly that VP who dressed so nattily in other seasons is showing up at the office in strapless sundresses, tank tanks, and other outfits better suited for the beach than the conference room. (Tip: Visible armpits don’t belong in the office.) That said…

3. Trying to look professional in the heat. It’s tough to look polished and professional when soaring temperatures having you battling sweat and frizzy hair. It’s even harder if your office dress code requires suit jackets or pantyhose.

4. Flip flops. Gone are the days when a flip flop would never darken an office’s doorway. These days, it’s not uncommon to spot – or hear – flip flops in otherwise professional workplaces. And the accompanying noise (that distinctive thwap-thwap) and toe exposure is driving plenty of office workers batty, who see them as signaling that the wearers have one foot in the office and the other on the beach. Unsurprisingly, some workplaces have moved to ban them.

5. Covering for coworkers who are out on vacation. In many offices, summer means an exodus of workers for vacation time – leaving the staffers left behind facing an increased workload as they try to cover for this absent colleagues. Of course, this isn’t so bad if you know that your turn is coming soon – but it can be frustrating if you don’t have any accrued vacation time to take yourself. On the opposite end of this …

6. Work slows down, but your hours don’t. In some offices, the flow of work slows down in the summer when clients are away. Some employers respond by letting employees leave early on Fridays or encouraging people to take time off, but plenty of workplaces won’t give employees any flexibility during this period, leaving them with slow, boring days stuck in the office.

7. Not being able to move work forward when decision-makers are out. You’ve worked all month to perfect that project and you’re ready to finalize it and send it out – but your boss is out for two weeks and you can’t move forward without her approval. Or you uncover a major problem on an account but don’t have the authority to fix it until your boss is back – but he takes off all of August each year. Of course, good managers will ensure that you have the authority to move work forward in their absence (or that you can consult with someone who does), but plenty of managers leave for vacation without putting those measures in place.

8. Being at work when you could be at the pool or at the beach. The sun is shining, the skies are blue, you can see people in shorts and bikini tops outside your window – and you’re stuck inside watching a PowerPoint presentation. It can be tough to focus on work when the weather is calling – even if all you want to do is flop on your porch with a cold drink and a fan.

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 259 comments… read them below }

  1. Del*

    Heck, trying to find nice sandals for work that don’t slide under the definition of flip-flops is even getting harder! I spend so much time shopping for dressy, work-appropriate sandals, and it’s getting harder and harder to find ones that still keep that all-important heel strap.

      1. bearing*


        Tip: There’s a thriving market in used ‘Vogs. Check eBay.

        1. JustMe*

          Those are so cute! I love fluevogs but could never justify the price. I never thought to look on ebay. :).

          1. Catherine*

            I scope out what I like, then wait for them to go on sale (better prices than I saw on ebay).
            And I find, even though they’re pricey, they’re good value. I’ve had my yellow ‘vogs for three years and with the exception of a scrape on the back heel of one, they still look like new.
            They’re all leather, inside and out, and NOT made in China which for me is a huge point in their favour. My d-i-l is from a leather and shoe making family in Italy and she’s impressed with the quality.

    1. Meg*

      Really? I’ve had fantastic luck this summer finding shoes. Can I ask where you shop?

      My big issue is finding summery clothes that ahem, cover up certain areas. I’m definitely a bit curvy, so a lot of tops that look cute on other women make me look like I don’t understand the concept of too much cleavage.

      1. Kelly L.*

        And once you layer a cami under it, it’s not so cool and breezy anymore! I feel your pain.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Go to Wal-mart and get those little fake camisole panels that hook to your bra straps. You can find them in the TV products aisle. They cover up nicely and are very light. It makes you look like you are wearing a pretty lacy camisole that is meant to be seen, but without actually adding the layer. :D

          1. KellyK*

            I’m a huge fan. In addition to being cooler than a real cami, they’re also a lot more adjustable in terms of coverage. I have a couple camisoles and tank tops that I bought to wear under work shirts, but they sit low enough that they don’t actually accomplish much in the modesty department.

          2. SevenSixOne*

            If you’re plus-sized, be warned that they don’t seem to make them in different sizes, and they’re waaaaaaay too small to be any use to this size 16 lady.

          3. Anonymous*

            I found that they didn’t work well with my bras, so you’ll have to test them out.

        1. FreeThinkerTX*

          Ugh. Personal preference here, but I really don’t like the look of “peekaboo” lace lingerie for a camisole. I much prefer the smooth, polished look of silk (not actual silk, mind you, just the look and feel). I feel like I look way less professional if I’m wearing any amount of “under” lace* that is publicly visible.

          *Battenburg lace sleeves or jackets/cardigans/shrugs are different. In that case it’s *obvious* that the lace is meant to be seen. And it’s also not “lingerie-y”.

          But, so, yeah. . . I pretty much just sweat through the summer with my “uniform” of smooth-look tank top under a shirt with 3/4 sleeves.

    2. Chinook*

      I find that fashions come and go and hope that the flip-flop is just a trend. It could be worse, though. I remember the year I worked in a women’s wear store when it seemed that no one was selling dresses, only pant suits. We actually had women calling us up to ask if we carried anything with a skirt. I was so relieved when that fashion trend changed and I have since learned to stock up when something is in trend (as long as it doesn’t look “trendy”).

      1. Loose Seal*

        I don’t know. My niece (mid-20s) was married this summer and all her bridesmaids wore flip-flops. It wasn’t a casual beach wedding, either. I think the times, they have a-changed.

        1. Allison*

          Okay now that’s insane! In general I think flip-flops are a bit unprofessional, but there’s a wide range. Women in my office sometimes wear them, but they’re not exactly beach shoes, they have crystals and stuff. And I even wore open-toed/backless shoes for a few days when I had such bad blisters it hurt to wear anything else.

      2. Rana*

        For me, a lot depends on the nature of the “flip-flop.” If it’s one of those cheapo rubber-and-foam things, it absolutely doesn’t belong in more formal settings. But when it’s a leather shoe, with price tag to match, I’m more inclined to cut the wearer some slack, especially if they know how to walk in them without making the flip-flop sound.

        (Not least because I’m a person who gets blisters on her heels and little toe in most sandals, and appreciates the way that the strap design on flip-flops leaves those areas untouched.)

    3. littlemoose*

      I am totally with you on this. I usually opt for open-toed flats, which give some side and heel coverage, but are cooler than regular flats. Sandals with a heel strap and maybe some side coverage should accomplish the same thing. Have you tried Zappos or Piperlime? Both are online shoe companies with huge inventories, plus free shipping and returns (so you could order more than one size and send back whatever doesn’t fit, free of charge). Zappos especially has ridiculously fast shipping and good customer service. Hope this helps!

    4. The IT Manager*

      I wish, sort of. My problem – office too cold. Not terribly bad actually – I’m only putting on a sweater a couple of days a week – but exposed toes would probably be too cold. I don’t terribly mind my comfy flats I wear but it doesn’t work for after work because I live in Florida.

    5. Rana*

      It’s particularly bad when you have sensitive heels and get blisters from most heel straps. I’m very grateful I no longer work in a place where I have to force my feet into uncomfortable shoes to be professional.

  2. Christina*

    *pulls out soapbox* Air conditioning is the bane of my existence. The office I work in is a poorly designed fishbowl with a wall of windows, but none that can be opened for any air flow. Facilities says the AC “breaks” if we set it higher than 72. The vent blows right on my desk.

    While I agree with most of your points about summer clothes, I find it ridiculous that I need to wear the same clothes as I do in winter in order to be remotely comfortable in the office, which means when I go outside for lunch, I ended up sweaty and even more uncomfortable. So I end up looking like a 90-year old lady at my desk, with a cup of tea, a blanket over my lap, wrapped in a scarf, and constantly trying to tug the sleeves on my jacket down to cover my wrists and hands.

    The worst part is–I LOVE summer. LOVE IT. The sunlight and warmth I get in summer needs to sustain me through Chicago’s winter, so being cold for 8 hours a day when the temperature is a perfect 80 outside is basically my idea of hell. *steps off soapbox*

    1. Twentymilehike*

      Christina, I’m 100% with you.

      I find it especially ridiculous when its June and I have my space heater running under my desk.

    2. Jane Doe*

      Same here. I would be okay with putting on a cardigan inside, but it’s ridiculous when it’s 85 degrees outside and less than 70 degrees inside. Dramatically lowering the temperature only makes sense to me if you work in a warehouse or do other physical labor inside, but for the majority of people who are only moving our fingers, it seems kind of ridiculous. It would be so much more comfortable (and better for the environment) if people could just wear weather-appropriate clothing that is also office-appropriate without freezing.

      1. Sascha*

        In my workplace, the temp varies depending on which side of the hall you are on. So my office generally gets pretty warm, but go further down, and it’s freezing. And then it will magically reverse some days. I have a sweater that lives in the office since it’s always a gamble.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’m on the third floor of a big building, and I have to keep a sweater in my cube. It’s like an icebox in here. I’m seriously contemplating bringing in a thin fleece blanket I made. And I moved from a middle cube to the one on the end–you can feel a five-degree temp difference as you walk down the aisle!

        2. littlemoose*

          Yes! My coworkers on the other side of the office complain about being cold, but my office is so hot, especially in the afternoon when the sun comes in. Dressing appropriately for a hot office is challenging too.

        3. The IT Manager*

          Ha! I have 5 sweaters in my office cabinet in different colors. In winter I tend toward the thick, fleece because it is that cold inside but in the summer I wear the lighter, more profeesional carrdigans.

        4. Windchime*

          It varies by the hour in my office. Right now, I am wearing a cardigan with a blanket on my lap. Within the hour, I will be putting up my hair, taking off the cardigan and turning on my fan because it will be sweltering. By the time I get used to that, the AC will kick on again and I will be freezing and making a hot cup of tea.

    3. Goosey Lucy*

      I had the same problem in one of my offices and they got me this plastic thing to attach to the AC vent that keeps the air from blowing directly on you.

      Is that an option for you?

      1. Christina*

        Unfortunately it’s one of those vents that takes up a whole square ceiling tile, so I don’t think that style would work. I want to put a mini ceiling on my cube to stop the draft, if it wouldn’t cut out what sunlight I do manage to get.

        1. RG*

          Tape paper on the ceiling vent to block the side that’s blowing directly on you. That’s my only helpful piece of advice.

          1. Natalie*

            The downside to this solution is that the air doesn’t stop blowing, it’s just redirected. Depending on how the HVAC system is balanced, taping a vent up can noticeably throw it off. If your maintenance people have to come and rebalance it and they find a vent taped up, they’ll probably not be especially happy.

        2. ThatGirl*

          Sadly, every office I’ve ever had in my career seems to have been a deep freezer in another life.
          1. One office I literally had to wear a coat and gloves because when they built the walls, that tiny box got the only AC on the floor. Everyone else was hot but I was freezing every.single.day.
          2. The office that was once a server room and prior to that a closet, we would have to tape of the vent so we didn’t freeze in there.
          3. This current office is chilly in the summer and hot in the winter. Apparently, the vent blows right into my office. So I have equipped myself with a very nice fleece jacket that I wear at my desk.
          I don’t have a solution but I truly sympathize with you.

      2. E.T.*

        At my last workplace, I had a vent above me that blew air on me and sometimes gave me a headache. I thought I resolved my situation by wearing a hat; it was a small stylish cloche hat, not something huge or outrageous. But then HR told me I couldn’t wear the hat because it was not according to the company’s dress code. So I told them about the vent and that I wanted to move desks. I ended up in a prime location in a corner of the office instead of in the middle (my previous workplace was designed to be an open space plan, so no one had offices, which meant a corner desk was a private as it could get).

        I never did asked them why a hat was not appropriate per their dress code. But to this day, I think about it every time I read an article about what is appropriate and not appropriate to wear to the office. The no-hat rule seemed silly to me, since most employers gripe about their employees not covering up more in the office, whereas I was chided for covering up my head.

    4. Mike C.*

      Bring in a box of doughnuts for your maintenance folks, and ask them to buy one of those plastic flow air flow directors that attach magnetically. That way proper airflow is maintained, but it’s not flowing directly at you.

      Any chance that could work?

    5. The Other Dawn*

      Is there any chance you can move your desk? Personally, I think 72 is a perfectly reasonable temperature. Most people are usually comfortable around 70 or 72.

      1. Anonymous*

        I’d be careful with that “most.” I’m more comfortable around 76, and I know people who’d love it to be 80.

      2. Christina*

        The problem with temperatures that are reasonable is that 72 feels completely different in air conditioning. I’d be perfectly happy with 72 degrees of fresh air (I open my windows for just about anything over 65), but the air needed to cool a space to 72 is colder than that, and when it’s dry (as AC air is) it feels even colder.

        I wish offices/office workers (at least in Chicago, I can’t speak for dessert conditions) could learn to be comfortable with the fact that hey! seasons! It’s warmer in summer, it’s cooler in winter, dress appropriately, drink appropriate temperature liquids, have fans for air circulation, and if it gets above 90 with 90% humidity (like last week), then fine, run the AC for the worst part of the day. But really, the thing most of us are moving all day is our fingers, the office doesn’t need to be a meat locker to compensate.

        1. Chinook*

          Can I second your compalint about offices not recognizing different seasons? Up north here, it isn’t like we expect the place to be tropical in January so why on earth do we need the meat locker in July? I have been in offices were employees wear gloves when typing in the summer (combination of poor circulation and crazy A/C). I get that we can’t have windows that open in office buildings and that it takes 24 hours for a building to adjust to the manic weather we have here, but I can regulate the heat in my apartment with no a/c, baseboard heatingand an open window much more easily than it seems building services can in a building where everything is sealed.

          Sorry about the rant – the fact that my animals get more fresh air when they are cooped up at home all day than I do in an office is starting to effect my brain.

          1. Marie*

            “Dessert conditions” = Cupcake cacti and brownie boulders? (Ha! I know you meant “desert”, but now I love the vision of active “dessert conditions”….and…now I need chocolate….)

      3. TL*

        Yeah, most people I know keep their house/apartment at 76-78. I’m happiest at 80 but comfortable up to 84.

        1. Zed*

          Everyone is different. I’d be sick at those temperatures. I keep my house in the 62-68 range.

          1. FreeThinkerTX*

            Exactly. Everyone *is* different.

            I’m in Texas (hence my screen name) and the central A/C in my house never gets above 72. At night I turn on the window air conditioner in my bedroom so I sleep at a perfectly chilled 64F (with four fans blowing on me, even!).

            I went into the office today (something I do once a week or two) and had trouble concentrating on what my techies were telling me because the thermostat was set at 80F. [To save money; we’re a startup.] Blech. That’s beach weather! Ya know, where there’s an ocean breeze, a frosty adult beverage in one hand, and you’re in minimal clothing. Sadly, that’s not the case in my office. (Darn it!)

    6. Elizabeth*

      It may be as much about humidity as about temperature to keep it that cool.

      My office is in a basement. In order to not have water condensing on the walls in the summer, we have to keep it at 68 with a dehumidifier running constantly. We empty it every day during the week, and it shuts off on the weekends because it gets to full. If we let the temperature drift up to the low 70’s, it is like walking through soup.

      I don’t love having my office this cold, but I hate the clammy feeling of high humidity more than I dislike the cold. I keep a cardigan to put over my shoulders on the back of my chair, along with a sports blanket in my filing cabinet to tuck around my legs if I have to sit at my desk and start to get chilled.

      I’d love to see 80 again, but the forecasted high today is the upper 90’s with 60%+ humidity. We probably won’t see highs in the 80’s now until late September.

    7. College Career Counselor*

      Wondering whether you could ask facilities/maintenance to put some kind of air-baffler to shunt the a/c off your desk (w/o closing it off completely)? Just a thought..

    8. Anonymous*

      Fellow Chicagoan and I agree 100 percent! Don’t we spend enough months out of the year freezing? Do we REALLY have to freeze in the summer too?!

      1. JustMe*

        Just left my job that was quite literally “in the desert” 112 degree temps and it would get up to 96 in the office because we only had a small portable a/c. And i had to wear a polyester uniform shirt. I ended up getting heat exhaustion one day.
        At my interview for my current job I said I just want to work somewhere with air conditioning! Now I have an office in a warehouse where it will get too cold, but I can open the door once in a while to balance the temp. So nice it’s only me in the office, and I don’t have to be in there all day. I do hate to be chilled all day, but it’s so nice to walk out in the heat after being in an ice box.

  3. Chinook*

    One more to add – pity the person receptionist whos ends up being the one person in the office who can’t take off early because someone has to be there in case a client calls and then has to find someone to help them.

    1. Sascha*

      Yes! I’ve put in my time doing that. It’s hard not to be resentful when everyone is on vacation, and you are stuck in a gross office “just in case” that one person calls (who is probably on vacation too).

      1. periwinkle*

        The only thing worse is being the one stuck in a gross office because you’re a temp and don’t *have* any vacation time (or holiday pay or PTO or annual bonus or job security or health coverage or…). Whenever an employee whined at me about how her vacation was over and she didn’t want to have to come back to work to soon, it took a lot of self-control to not bop her over the head with a chair.

        1. Meg*

          I worked as a temp receptionist last summer. I didn’t exactly treat weekday holidays with the same anticipation as everyone else since, you know, I wasn’t getting paid for them.

    2. anon*

      Good one! At my last job, they allowed half-day Fridays from the 4th of July through Labor Day, but the receptionist could not take advantage unless she found her own coverage, which was difficult because you were paid a full day either way.

  4. RB*

    Living in Florida, we have summer all year long. We are used to bringing sweaters to the office because the A/C is cranked down to 70, then walking outside and having your glasses immediately fog up. Standard operating procedure.

    The good thing is, even in professional offices, women don’t wear pantyhose down here. We also have tons of cute, sandalish shoes that look professional, but are not flip flops (we hate those in the office, too).

    However, we still suffer the sleeveless look. It is a total peeve of mine. Unless I’m making you work under a thatched roof with just a fan in 95 degree weather, cover up. Ugh.

    1. Xay*

      When I worked in Tallahassee, a new division director proposed getting rid of summer business casual and requiring women to wear pantyhose (even under slacks). The division revolted.

      1. KayDay*

        Eww, ewww, ewwww.

        Also, for summer, my heart really goes out to the men who are still stuck wearing ties and suit jackets. That’s just cruel (and also part of the reason why so many offices are so frigid in the summer). When I am boss of the world, ties and suit jackets will be banned, banned I say! when it’s more than 90 degrees and 80% humidity outside.

  5. Gobbledigook*

    RE: Visible armpits thing: I always thought as long as the neckline was high and the style formal enough for the office that it was OK to wear something without sleeves. An example would be a nice high-necked shift dress that doesn’t have sleeves but has plenty of coverage. Does this depend on the office?

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        If sleeveless were a problem in all offices, I’d have been fired by now, so I’m with you!

        1. Gobbledigook*

          Here here! I tend to follow my boss’ example at a job. My boss often wears those types of dresses, so I think I’m alright. I will say that htis work environment is way less formal than my previous jobs in which we had to pay a toonie on Fridays to wear jeans. Here everyone wears jeans which took some getting used to. It just felt wrong after having had that drilled into my head for so long! :-)

          Oh: a toonie is a two dollar coin in Canada. Everyone probably knows that but I htought I’d clarify.

          1. Manda*

            Lol! I’m Canadian and when I got to the word “toonie,” I figured a lot of people wouldn’t know what you were talking about.

            1. Gobbledigook*

              ahahah I considered erasing it and then thought: “Nah, I’ll just explain,” :-)

            2. CathVWXYNot?*

              Yup! I once took a visiting American friend to one of my favourite Vancouver cafes. My friend paid with a $20 bill, and the barista asked “are loonies and toonies OK?” – a normal change-related question in Canada, but my friend turned towards me with such a look of panic and confusion in her eyes that I couldn’t help bursting out laughing!

                1. Felicia*

                  Made me lol too! I’m too young to remember a time before loonies and toonies, and I never considered that people from other countries wouldn’t understand. I actually like having a lot of loonies and toonies as opposed to bills.

        2. A Teacher*

          Me too. 95 degrees outside no air conditioning and 30 high school bodies that sweat and have BO in August. I definitely wear sleeveless dresses with sandals. I will also say that we aren’t the highest paid school district, we also have no dress code…it’s a perk I generally like and I’m all into wearing cute clothes but if I want to wear nice jeans on a Tuesday, its totally okay.

    1. Sascha*

      Yes it does. At my last job, I would have had a conversation with the university president about my sleeveless attire. At my current job (also a university, but much more laid back), I’m probably the nicest dressed person right now, even when I wear sleeveless tops or dresses. I make sure they are very nice looking (high necklines like you said), but they still wouldn’t be allowed at my last job.

      My other coworkers, including bosses, are running around in old jeans and t-shirts from conferences.

      1. Gobbledigook*

        I think it’s something about academia. I am in the same boat; research facility connected to a university. The environment is landslides more laid-back than the companies I have previously worked for.

        1. Sascha*

          I think so, too. Even at my last job, which was a private university that was way more uptight, there were still many people (usually professors) who got away with wearing anything they damn well pleased.

        2. TL*

          In my experience, there’s a departmental division – the sciences tend to run around in t-shirts and jeans and the business people wear suits, for instance.

          To be fair, it makes no sense to wear your nice work clothes into the lab, where you’re likely to spill something on them eventually.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I think it does; people wear it in some places but not others. I can’t wear sleeveless tops because I have a great big tattoo and most places don’t want those showing. (Also I don’t like the way my arms look.)

    3. B*

      Yup, I have no problems with visible armpits as long as it is an appropriate type and style of dress/top. Strapless or thin spaghetti straps, no. But a beautiful sleeveless silk top or shift dress, or something very appropriate in style & length – not a big deal for me or any office I have worked in (NYC).

    4. Jamie*

      It will depend on the office whether or not it’s allowed…but know that some people will always find it unprofessional.

      We’re very informal but it’s a pet peeve of mine – I do not want to see anyone’s bare underarm in a professional environment or in a restaurant. I just find it gross and far too casual no matter how formal the dress.

      So while it may depend on the office and some people may be okay with it, some will always look askance at people showing their underarms in public. You can’t please everyone so as long as it’s not against the dress code you should wear what you like.

      Unless you work with me, then cover it up or accept that I will look everywhere except directly at you when we meet. :)

      1. Chinook*

        Shrugs are a woman’s best friend – small enough not to give you warmth but large enough to cover shoulders and armpits when this season’s dresses insist on showing them.

      2. Gobbledigook*

        I really prefer wearing shrugs but even shrugs can sometimes unintentionally show armpit. Consider that others probably do not mean to offend :-)

        So does it bother you at weddings when people wear strapless or sleeveless dresses? What about the bride? Almost all wedding dresses are sleeveless now. That must drive you crazy!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes, and I hate it. Hate it hate it hate it.

          But there are different standards for what’s appropriate in the office versus outside of it / at social occasions, so I don’t try to fight that battle.

          1. Gobbledigook*

            I have been trying to find a wedding dress that is not strapless. They are really in the minority. Some designers you even have to have straps specially sewn on for them to do it. I did pick one of my bridesmaids’ dresses to be sleeveless but am considering a shrug with it.

            I guess I’m a bit less conservative with the strapless thing. Things that bug me in the workplace: way too much cleavage, spaghetti straps and definitely tube tops, ripped or stained clothing, fraying hems etc. but a nice shift dress with no sleeves, I have no issues with.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Not that I have to worry about it anytime soon (:P), but yeah, I wouldn’t want to dress like every other bride out there!

              2. Gobbledigook*

                haha I have this image of angrily googling: “why the hell are strapless wedding dresses popular!”

                That is a great article. What she did was really cool, having it designed for her. I am getting married next July so I’ve got time. I don’t mind all the strapless dresses I just wish the ones with straps weren’t so limited.

                Have you had the wedding already ? If so, how did the day go?

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I seriously did Google that, or something like that! I was so frustrated with the situation and was looking for commiseration!

                  The wedding is Oct. 5, so about two months away. And I’m still second-guessing the dress decision :)

                2. Gobbledigook*

                  I can relate. The whole wedding dress decision has been plaguing me. It sounds cliched but do make sure you feel comfortable and beautiful. If worse comes to worst and you change your mind, you can always sell the dress on a site like Preowned Wedding dresses.

                  ahhh I’m excited for you!! :-)

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Honestly, what won me over about the dress was that it has a corset in it, which gives me the waistline I had when I was 17. I want to have a corset inside all my clothes, including pajamas.

                4. Jamie*

                  Just a word of advice – comfortable shoes.

                  I’ve been married twice and I remember exactly one thing from each of the ceremonies. How freaking much my feet hurt.

                  Gorgeous shoes both time but absolute torture. Find gorgeous shoes that don’t make you want to amputate at the ankle.

                5. Gobbledigook*

                  ahaha corseted pajamas. I’m with Jamie; too much Pre-Victorian literature :-)

                  Jamie you’re so right. I am going to do my absolute best to find comfortable shoes that also look nice for photos. I’m thinking a heel that isn’t too high and some insoles and back-up shoes in case.

                6. Eva*

                  As someone with a fair bit of corset experience, I hope you have tried or will try wearing one for several hours before your wedding day, Alison! It’s so tempting to lace a corset too tight for comfort in order to get that perfect waist, but (just like Jamie is saying with the shoes) you really don’t want to be in excruciating pain while exchanging your wedding vows – not to mention risk fainting.

                  Also, it’s a good idea to have someone around who has practice tightening and untightening a corset so they can do it quickly (before and after the wedding photos, for instance! ;) ) so you don’t waste time on that. In my experience it takes 1 minute for someone who knows what they’re doing vs. 10-15 minutes for someone who has to learn as they go.

                  I hope your wedding goes well! :)

              3. Rana*

                I custom-ordered my dress, in part for the strap issue. I also had it made in apple green, because I look terrible in white. So, not a huge fan of the traditional wedding gown, no.

              4. Kat*

                I so disliked the (seeming) millions of strapless/spaghetti-strapped wedding dresses, that I decided the most logical solution was to sew my own, to my exacting specifications ;-)

                1. Jamie*

                  My first wedding was in 1989 (I was a child bride)…

                  and I will not admit to the beaded headband across my forehead or the fingerless gloves. And unless you have access to my ex husbands photo album you can’t prove it, either.

                2. Chinook*

                  I unfortunately graduated the last year of that trend and have the grad dress to prove it. It not only had poofy sleeves but a gigantic, same fabric flower over my bust. Atleast it only cost me $50 in material.

        2. Jamie*

          No – because that’s not a professional environment. Besides at a wedding everyone from the bride, to the guests, to the attendants tend to be hyper vigilant about grooming.

          Just like I don’t care if my husband sits on the deck when he’s alone in our yard without a shirt on, but he’d better throw one on if he answers the door. It’s just a time and place thing.

          TBH if a dress were cut so it was sleeveless but no underarms were showing I wouldn’t even notice. I’m not looking for it – but if you’re passing me a sheaf of papers or are in the kitchen reaching for a bottle of water and I have to see it I’m annoyed.

          It’s the same with feet. I think feet in sandals are fine – and I love a good pedicure…but I don’t want someone walking barefoot around the office or putting bare feet on chairs, or having funky fungusy toes in my line of sight. It’s the people not using common sense that inspire the rules.

          1. Gobbledigook*

            ah OK. The restaurant thing threw me off. I thought you were saying that it bothers you outside of work as well.

            1. Jamie*

              Your average restaurant patron tends to be less careful in the grooming department than someone in or at a wedding. :)

    5. The IT Manager*

      There’s different levels of coverage. While all sleeveless will show armpits when lifting your arms above your head, IMO good professional one won’t show much of your armpit at all while walking around or working at your desk.

      1. The IT Manager*

        Borrowing Ariancita’s excellent explanation of professional sleeveless tops from below

        a tight arm cut–so no gaping under the arm and very little space between the arm hole and under arm area

        1. Gobbledigook*

          Yeah, I definitely avoid gaping holes in the armpits. The dresses I wear are very high cut so it really barely shows anything and it isn’t like i walk around all day long with my arms flailed in the air

          1. RJ*

            That’s where I fall on the issue too. I’m wearing a sleeveless dress today, and I have a cami under it because the armholes on the dress are a little gapy. Maybe it helps that I have batwing-y arms, but I swear, you can’t see any “armpit” unless I raise my arms over my head. I could easily pass a legal pad to someone without exposing myself.

        2. Amy*

          The one problem with tight armholes is that as soon as your raise your arms up to (or above) shoulder level, your entire shirt or dress rises about 5 inches up, which for me as a 5’9″, long-torsoed person, means that even if the dress is knee length, when I raise my arms to shoulder height you can see my bum. Oops.

    6. VictoriaHR*

      Our office says as long as the straps are wider than 2 inches, they’re fine. On casual days, anyway. Flip flops are also ok, which is good because I love mine. But I won’t wear them more than 2x a week because they are extraordinarily loud and flappy. Sadly, they’re the only flip flops that I’ve ever found with arch support.

  6. AdAgencyChick*

    Awww, this is such a Debbie Downer of a list! I guess I’m lucky in that I work for a company that’s cool with people dressing pretty casually in summer — shorts used to be a total no-no because our CEO didn’t like them, but since his retirement I’ve started to see them on quite a few guys, and I freely admit to wearing above-the-knee skirts and dresses myself. I feel terrible for my husband and others like him who have to continue to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants the whole summer.

    And generally the work slows down enough to be a nice respite from the busy-bee September-to-May dynamic. We each get to take a few summer Fridays off, so on Friday you’re either off and enjoying yourself, or half the office is out so you get a bunch done and have time for a long lunch anyway because your calendar isn’t crammed with meetings.

    So yeah…I kind of love it.

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I worked with a guy who wore shorts all year round. In the middle of the midwest. And the guy worked outside. You knew there was a sub-zero windchill when “Bob” put long pants on.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        LOL we had a guy like that at Oldjob. He used to say he was hot-blooded. Just looking at him made me feel cold. Brr.

      2. Rosemarine*

        I’d say I know that guy, but the one I know has never lived in the midwest. In any case: he prefers shorts most of the year and during the winter, the AC is on in the car. [Note: we’re friends who happen to be coworkers at the moment.]

        For me, as someone who has worked mainly as a temp for the last x years, I try to stay out of the thermostat wars. But as someone who lives in a hot humid summer state, I hate even the idea of going for an interview during the summer. No matter what I wear (different rant), I’m going to sweat too much on the way to the interview. Ugh.

      3. FRRibs*

        Wore shorts for 6-7 years year-round. Winter included. Vermont. Even when shovelling waist-high snow. Even barefoot in the snow waiting for the kids to get on the snow bus some mornings. Yeah, I know…

        Granted, I wear a cleanroom suit at work, so the shorts weren’t in your face while on the job.

    2. VictoriaHR*

      Our office is ok with shorts on casual days, and we’ve got a lot of young fit IT, writer, designer guys … yeah it’s not such bad viewing.

      1. KJ*

        I get into “discussions” with my teenage son about his wanting to wear shorts to school in the dead of winter.

        1. Chinook*

          I would think that letting your teenage son walk to school once in shorts in winter should solve that problem. It doesn’t even have to be a cold day, just something that freezes the water in the puddles.

          1. FRRibs*

            You would be surprised; as long as your trunk is warm and you have good socks and shoes, you can be quite warm as long as the wind chill isn’t too bad.

  7. Amy*

    Humidity is what kills me. I can take the heat, but what to do when your commute leaves you walking through humid weather with a back drenched in sweat (not to mention the dreaded underboob sweat)? All the pretty work blouses for women are rarely made of breathable fabric, plus they never fail to show sweat like that’s what they were made for. Someone please invent a pretty, work-appropriate shirt that breaths, doesn’t wrinkle, and doesn’t become 463129603 shades darker, in blotches, when you sweat.

    1. Sascha*

      Yes! The humidity!! I’m in Texas so I feel your pain. I bought a ton of cheap cotton tanks from Target, and that helps contain the sweat so I can wear the blousy tops. I also hate how my hair looks so awful, no matter what I do.

    2. Chinook*

      Ah, yes, underboob sweat. I know summer has hit when I need to put on deodarant before I put on a bra.

      1. Jane Doe*

        I wonder how they handle this is hot climates, especially ones where air conditioning is not as common as in the US.* Is there just a different attitude toward being sweaty?

        *I’ve been led to believe that Americans use way more air conditioning than people in other countries, even ones with a primary service/white collar economy.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’ve read, too, that when you’re in temperature-controlled environments all the time, your body loses some its ability to regulate for more extreme temperatures and so it’s more uncomfortable to be outside in the heat or the cold because you’re not used to it. We’re messing ourselves up by artificially controlling the temperature all the time.

          1. Amy*

            Too true! I worked as an outdoor lifeguard for a few years in the summers, and the best thing I ever did to make work more tolerable was to stop sleeping in an air-conditioned room. I opened a window, turned on a fan, and that was that. Even in 90+ heat. It helped. so. much.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            It’s true–you DO get conditioned to hot and cold temperatures after a while. I used to live in a house that only had one AC unit in the living room wall, and we only turned it on when the heat was excessive. The rest of the time it was open windows and cross-ventilation. Of course, it helped that the house was in the middle of nowhere. I can’t do that in my city house now–too much asphalt and concrete around it.

            It had a gas stove for heat and none in the bedrooms. I definitely got used to sleeping under 45 blankets, although I HATED being cold all the time. Ugh.

            1. Natalie*

              That’s been my experience, and is probably one reason I find my office to be excessively cold. Every place I’ve lived has either had no AC or window units with no thermostat, so even when I have AC I only use it when it’s 90+. I also live in Minnesota, so I like the hot weather while we have it.

          3. Christina*

            Yep! This is another one of the reasons I don’t like air conditioning, and why I find it so frustrating when my coworkers can’t seem to manage any degree of change in the thermostat. Personally, I also tend to feel that, especially in summer, going from hot with higher humidity to freezing cold offices with lots of recirculating dry air tends to make me feel nauseated and more likely to come down with whatever bug is currently circulating the office.

        2. E.T.*

          When I grew up in Asia, we were taught from a very young age to always have a hankerchief and a small pack of tissues on you. In fact, every morning, the teacher would check if you brought those two items to school. If you perspired, you were expected to use your hankerchief immediately. We also paid more attention to the fabrics of our clothes. To this day, my mom doesn’t own any clothes that isn’t made of cotton or silk. We use umbrellas to shield us against the sun when we go outside. And we use a ton of deodorant. Since a majority of people commute to and from work, all the little tricks to stay cool in hot weather add up. In fact, every summer all the fashion magazines invariably run articles about how to survive the commute in the heat and still arrive at the office looking professional.

          I’ve noticed the a/c isn’t as strong over there as it is in my workplaces here in the US. However, I don’t know if it is because they are used to the warm weather and thus don’t need to crank up the a/c, or if they don’t crank up the a/c and people just learn to adjust.

    3. Felicia*

      I feel you with the underboob sweat, it’s horrible. And it’s always so humid here so even a 5 minute walk leaves me drenched in sweat, and it always feels way hotter than the temperature.

  8. Joanne*

    remind me to never leave my job. I am sitting at my desk wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and flip flops right now. and my neighbor is wearing cargo shorts and a t-shirt. mmmm. I do keep a blanket in my desk, though.

  9. Anonymous*

    I live in Britain, and given that most summers consist of one week of sunshine and 3 months of rain, A/C is not routinely fitted in many office buildings. Which means that on the rare occasions we get a prolonged spell of sunny weather like the past two weeks, office temperatures are regularly hitting 100 degrees (particularly those with large windows that don’t open). Horrible.

    1. JM in England*

      One of my previous workplaces was exactly like yours re heat, so know exactly where you are coming from!

      It took a lot of persuasion for TPTB to fit dehumidifiers; the main argument me & my coworkers used was demonstrating that our error rate went through the roof during hot spells.

  10. Sascha*

    Even more thankful that I work from home 3 days a week. I live in Texas, and while it’s not as hot as it has been, the humidity has been horrendous. We save up all our money to spend on the AC bill in the summer, so I’m sitting here in sweats and a blanket with dogs curled up next to me. :) I’m also thankful that my office is very casual, so that when I do go in, I don’t have to worry about pantyhose or button down shirts.

  11. periwinkle*

    If you’re a consultant, #7 is like sunburn on your back – you’re immobilized and miserable with no alleviation methods except patience and Advil. Sigh.

    I’d happily trade sitting around an office bored out of my skull to sitting around at home wondering when I can get working again. At least with the office job I’d still be paid during the summer doldrums.

  12. Not So NewReader*

    I’d rather deal with summer issues than deal with winter issues. Pet peeve- Driving in -20 or -30 degree weather, my car approaching a stop sign, moisture in the exhaust freezes on the road and I can barely stop at the sign. No wait…Starting up and pulling away from the sign is almost worse than trying to stop. I really love this when there is black ice at the stop sign.

    I will take summer time issues over winter issues any day!

    1. the gold digger*

      True. You don’t have to shovel hot. You don’t need an entire suite of hot-removal equipment. You don’t need hot-removal equipment for the roof. You don’t need hot tires. You don’t need shoes that don’t slip on hot. You don’t need a coat rated for 15 degrees below hot for your ten-minute walk to the bus stop. You don’t need special taking out the trash in the hot clothes. You don’t need to scrape the hot off your car before you can go anywhere.

      1. Chinook*

        I always get strange comments when somebody mentions our wacky weather and I respond “atleast it isn’t white and falling from the sky.” I love snow and cold but it is nice to have a break for a few months.

      2. Emma*

        I just moved for work to an area notorious for its winters from a more moderate climate (where we needed snow shovels but not block heaters, e.g.). I’m very nervous for all the car- and personal winterizing I’ll need to do! I’ll be looking like Ralphie’s brother from A Christmas Story in a few months, methinks.

  13. Anonymous*

    I’m lucky to have only worked at places that were pretty laid back. Business casual attire, with sandals and sleeveless tops permitted.

    My biggest summer peeve is the serious slow-down/lack of stuff to do. I work at a college so the summer is absolutely dead. On top of that, people get insane amounts of vacation time so I hope you don’t need that done today because the person that does that is in Mongolia for 3 weeks. Yes, I have a coworker in Mongolia right now.

    I’ll deal with the sweat and heat because it beats winter any day! Working in a windowless office is December is horrible because you pretty much never, ever see the sun.

    1. Emily*

      Oh god, yes! I used to be an admin at a university, and everyone would go on about how nice the long holidays must be – well, I didn’t get them, I was snowed under with exam stuff ready for resits, and paperwork piling up because the academics all decided to work from home/take three months off!

  14. Cat*

    And here’s one that may be unique to non-government lawyers in D.C.: everyone in the government wants to go on vacation, so they dump all their proposed orders, rules, and regulations on you in July so that your comments, responses, and requests for rehearing can be on their desk when they get back and ready to work in late August.

  15. Joanne*

    I tend to become laaazzyy during the summer months. I have set up my holidays to having every Friday and Monday off from the end of June to first weekend of September.

    When it is time to work Tuesday to Thursday, all I want to do is surf and sit around. Meanwhile there are a lot of little things I can take care of that I wasn’t able to during the September to May frenzy.

  16. Ali*

    I work from home, so I can wear whatever I want all year! In the summer, that means t-shirts, capris and no shoes…even tank tops and flip flops if I want! I am going to visit my company’s office when I am out of town in a couple weeks, so I’m going to look presentable (no flips or tank tops to be found), but even the in-office staff dresses casually, so I’m going to look really odd if I wear even business casual. (I also already stick out as a woman in a predominantly male company.) I will probably stick to a decent t-shirt and good fitting pair of jeans.

    The vacation thing is a pain though. I am taking a week off in a couple weeks, but other people on my team are taking some of the same days off as me. I’ve already had to cover for people on vacations, so I feel their pain.

    1. Andrea*

      My year-round uniform is yoga pants or jeans, tank top or t-shirt, and hoodie (short-sleeved this time of year). I also work from home. I got rid of all of my much-hated “business casual” clothes years ago.

      …I do hate flip-flops, though.

    2. Rana*

      Yup. I do have one suit – one! – for those times when I need to interact with people in a more formal setting, but these days my clothes are purchased for comfort. And when I’m at home, rather than out, I work barefoot. There’s no one to see but me, the cat, and sometimes the husband, so I take full advantage of it.

      On the other hand, our apartment only has one AC unit (in the bedroom) so on hot days I end up a sweaty mess, no matter how I dress. Ah, Chicago summers… bleah.

  17. fposte*

    Having your busy season in summer when everything else in your workplace is slower then. “Hey, I thought I’d bring this to you now since it’s a good slack time.” No.

  18. Anonymous*

    1 and 6 are definitely my biggest aggravations. luckily they’ve put me in a conference room with its own thermostat, and no one else works in here so I have have free rein of the temp. but when they bring someone else in I’ll need to keep the fan on and suck it up.

    I will say that the “no armpits” rule seems fairly conservative, as someone who’s never worked in an office where that’s been the common belief. I’m sure plenty of people here have lived by this rule and probably had to abide by an official “no sleeveless tops” rule in most if not all of their jobs. I also understand that some people here think armpits are disgusting and should never be visible in public. However, in the places where I’ve worked, sleevelessness has been perfectly tolerated and most women wear sleeveless tops and dresses, so I don’t think I should have to abide by that rule just because someone who’s never worked in my office believes that’s how every woman should dress at work, or slut-shame women they’ve never even met for dressing in accorance with their ideals.

    I do agree, however, that if someone’s new to the workplace or unsure of how to dress, general rules like that may be helpful, at least until they familiarize themselves with how women in their specific office dress.

    And I am guilty of breaking you “no flip-flops” rule. 90% of the time my toes and heels are covered, but earlier this month my flats had been rubbing my heels so raw it hurt to wear *any* kind of “office appropriate” shoe. So I wore shoes that were perfectly stylish, not beach shoes or anything, but were backless, showed my toes, and made noise. Since other women in my office wear flip-flops on occasion I didn’t think it was such a terrible thing. But once my blisters went away and my heels recovered I went back to my usual shoes.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Wait, how on earth is it slut-shaming to say that visible armpits aren’t professional? Men shouldn’t be showing their armpits in the office either.

      1. Ariancita*

        I don’t think no armpits is slut shaming (no idea where that comes from). I do think the rule is directed at mostly at women since there aren’t many (any?) shirts without sleeves for men that are not tanks, tees, or wife beaters (or so obviously overly casual). Like others up thread, I think there are perfectly nice, professional looking sleeveless shift or sheath dresses and blouses for women (with an emphasis on a tight arm cut–so no gaping under the arm and very little space between the arm hole and under arm area). Obviously not for a business dress code only environment, though.

        1. Jamie*

          I know most of you are coming from a more traditional office perspective and yes, there is no office attire (that I know of) for men which are sleeveless.

          But in manufacturing we have managers and other personnel coming from the factory and into the office. Even if you are wearing a sleeveless t-shirt on the dock that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable if you come up front for a meeting.

          1. Ariancita*

            Yeah, I have no experience in manufacturing. Though I’d still maintain, across the board, this rule (or preference) is weighted more heavily towards women as there are sleeveless options for almost all types of dress codes (and thus work environments) for women (from casual to business casual and so forth), than there are for men (haven’t seen business casual sleeveless for men).

            I dress conservatively myself, but I am not concerned with other people wearing work appropriate sleeveless blouses/dresses.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            It still depends on the company. Oldjob did this all the time and they never cared what the guys wore when they had to attend a safety meeting, or our company quarterly meeting, for example. The rest of us wore business casual all the time (I hated it because I had to handle samples and got dirty), and we always knew in advance if bigwigs or customers were going to show up.

            Of course, it was a small company, even after they were bought out. I don’t know what the new VP has done re dress codes–he seemed kind of stuffy to me anyway.

    2. Jamie*

      Wow – as someone firmly in the keep your armpits covered camp I have NO idea where you got slut shaming from.

      It’s not sex specific, I don’t want to see anyone’s armpits at work of any gender, and it certainly has zero to do with sexuality.

      Where did that come from?

      1. Anonymous*

        I don’t think the rule is slut-shamey, but if you go on Corporette a lot of the language about whether it’s acceptable is littered with words like “slutty” and “skanky.” That’s different from the attitude here where people just think it’s too casual or they don’t wanna see people’s sweaty bits.

        I still don’t get what the big deal is, even my mom whose worked in corporate America for decades had never heard of that rule.

        1. Chinook*

          I think the rule grew out of not being able to explain how wide a shoulder should be before it is unprofessional looking. Most peopel will admit that spaghetti straps are not right but, on different frames, 2 inch shoulder straps can look very different. And then there is the whole gap under the arm – if you have boobs, it can change how much is actually showing. By drawing the line at “it must have sleeves,” even if they are cap sleeves, then it is clear what is being talked about.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I prefer “skanky.” It implies tastelessness or an unkempt appearance, regardless of sex. And men can definitely be skanky too.

  19. Sydney*

    I’m very happy that my workplace allows for very casual dress. I’m talking shorts, sleeveless shirts and flip flops. We don’t have customers or guests visit the office, so it’s pretty much “anything goes.” So far we haven’t had any employees wearing anything inappropriate. It’s nice to have such freedom when you’re in south Texas, where the heat index is over 100 pretty much all summer long, and parts of winter, too.

    1. TL*

      South Texas is pretty darn chill when it comes to business dress. (Central Texas too, though less so.)
      I think it’s the heat. And the humidity.

  20. Acidartha*

    I was a bit surprised to see the “exposed armpits” bit – I wear all kinds of sleeveless dresses all year round. It’s a matter of taste really – as long as the dress is tasteful – I can’t see how exposed armpits is unprofessional – just make sure that all personal hygiene and grooming has been taken care of.

      1. Ariancita*

        But that’s your personal preference. I don’t think it’s a general rule for offices that aren’t business dress code only. The way it’s phrased in your list makes it sound like it’s a wide and known rule for most offices. It isn’t.

          1. Ariancita*

            Of course. Just that one line reads like it’s more a rule (“Tip: Visible armpits don’t belong in the office.”) as opposed to your statement above which reads like a personal preference, thus why I think you’re seeing these responses.

    1. Jen in RO*

      I’m glad to see people disagreeing with the ‘rule’. I wore my dress with spaghetti straps and my strappy sandals to work today (sparky yellow toenails included) and I fit right in my office. As long as your visible bits are clean, I don’t have a problem with them.

  21. Lillie Lane*

    I know the blog title is “in the office”, but for those of us who work outside in the summer…..it sucks the BIG ONE on any days where it tops 85/high humidity. Give me A/C wars any day, compared to broiling in the sun, getting cut up by plants, vehicles with no A/C, etc.

    1. Chinook*

      It could be worse. This is the first year DH gets to be a cop outside and not have to wear wool pants! He still wears a tie, but it is clip on (pulls off in a fight instead of getting strangled) and body armour and even has to march in a formal wool uniform complete with leather gloves, but most days he gets to wear pants that wick sweat instead of creating it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh God, body armor in the heat. I feel for him. But it will help him stay safe.

  22. B*

    I have no problem with people showing their toes as long as they are nicely painted and manicured. And visible armpits are not an issue for me either. With the caveat for both of those being that it needs to be kept professional looking.

    1. Judy*

      Not trying to start an argument, but I still hear my mom (she’s another of the ma ingalls types) saying the reason people paint their toenails is because they have fungus or some other issue, and if they had nice looking nails underneath, they wouldn’t.

      That’s not saying that I haven’t painted my toenails, but I still hear that voice when I do. “Are people wondering if my nails don’t look healthy???”

      1. Cathy*

        For me. painting toenails lets me do all the fun stuff I can’t get away with in a manicure at work. Glitter, patterns, flowers, etc. just don’t really say professional when on the hands. (says the person currently sporting pale blue penguins on her toes)

        1. Chinook*

          Also, manicures on me chip by the end of the day due to typing. My toes, on the other hand, stay pretty all week!

          1. Al Lo*

            I invested in a gel nail kit a few months ago, and it’s one of the best beauty investments I’ve ever made. Ever. Manicures last at least a week without chipping (even typing, washing dishes, etc), and they’re still shiny.

            It’s an investment (the light and starter kit usually runs between $60-$80 [although Shoppers’ Drug Mart often has them on sale]), and you have to get all new polish, since it only works with gel polish, but I’m slowly building up my polish collection. I still tend to use normal polish on my toes, but for my fingers, I want something that will last and stay in good shape, without paying for regular manicures.

            1. Al Lo*

              (Also, as a bonus, when you’re finished, the nails are totally dry. No smudging, no waiting for that last little bit of hardening before you can use your hands.)

            2. Chinook*

              I always wondered if those gel kits with the ligths worked because I am murder on my nails and ALWAYS smudge one even when professionally done. How are they at coming off? Is it more difficult than regular polish?

              (Now you have me wanting to hoard my SDM points to get one for free).

              1. Aimee*

                I can’t get from the nail salon to my car without chipping my polish, so I use the gel now. I usually get 2 good weeks out of a manicure, sometimes up to 3.

                You do have to be careful removing it though, or you can damage your nails. I put a cotton pad soaked in the remover (I use the kind that came in my starter kit) on each nail and wrap it in foil to keep it on. Let it soak for 10-15 minutes, and the polish comes off pretty easily (I do have to scrape it with an orange wood stick, but not enough to scrape up my nail).

                I really like having the kit – if I need a really really really well done manicure (for a special occasion), I’ll go to the salon. But for every day, I can do a decent job at home myself.

              2. Al Lo*

                Or get one on a SDM bonus points weekend, and get an extra $30 on your next points redemption. It’ll be over the $75 that they require for the bonus points.

        2. Jamie*

          This! It’s the place for wild colors and Hawaiian flowers tastefully painted on hot pink!

          And we have no open toed shoes ever as a safety thing, so it’s my little secret. For someone so boring I’m very whimsical from the ankles down.

          1. Gobbledigook*

            We have a director who wear a Hawaiian shirt almost every work day. Definitely unique.

              1. Gobbledigook*

                I find it fun. A plus is he’s always easy to spot. For his birthday his team made a shoulders up life-size cut out of him wearing one of his brightest shirts. That does freak me out every time I’m walking towards it thinking it’s him in his office…

        3. Lora*

          YES! I do a lot of field work and can’t have a manicure. Not, I can’t maintain one–I can’t have one because nail polish chips contaminate stuff and fingernails longer than a couple of millimeters are too hard to scrub adequately. But the toes are always stuffed into steel-toed boots and can be painted blue with silver sparkles if I want.

          In your ma’s defense, my toes are pretty grody. Not from fungus, I dance a lot (ballroom, ballet) and get bunions, broken toes & broken toenails from it.

  23. Skas*

    For me, it’s not having any accrued vacation time to take. I just started this new job a little less than 2 months ago and I get no time off until June 2014. I am so thankful for my job and I not complaining, but it is difficult being surrounded by everyone taking fun summer vacation and talking about their plans, when you don’t even get a sick day (not until October-which is very difficult considering I have two small children and day care policies are strict about child sickness).

    The other difficulty is because i am relatively new and work in a very fact paced deadline driven environment, a lot the work is getting passed on to me , which is overwhelming when you are new. I have been told it will take me a good 6-8 months to really feel comfortable in this job as the learning curve is extremely high.
    But, the upside, is it is very quiet, which allows me ample time and less distractions to finish my work.

    BTW: I hate flip flops, and people who think every day is casual day in the summer.

  24. Mike C.*

    Temperature control where I work is always an interesting game, because my desk is in a large aircraft hanger bay. So while it’s generally comfortable year ’round, when someone has to open the doors, you may as well be working outside. It’s pretty funny on a foggy morning though when the fog actually rolls into the building.

  25. Malissa*

    The one thing I do not miss about my old job is the thermostat wars. Nothing like having a coworker dress in heavy knits in the summer and turn the thermostat down because she’s hot.

    1. Chinook*

      I worked in an all female office once where the rule was “she who was having hot flashes was NOT allowed to touch the thermostat.”

      1. Jamie*

        Ha! Ours has the same rule for but it’s about the anemic one who is always wandering around in heavy sweaters and “a quilt” when it’s 90 degrees….hey wait…that’s me!!

        Seriously, though, I’m always freezing so if I dared touch the thermostat they’d run me out of here. (and an HK snuggie under my desk where no one can see it unless you come around back is NOT a quilt. Ahem.)

        Confession – my office is on a separate AC to climate control for the servers so sometimes people come in here to cool off and when I tire of small talk I ask them nicely to leave because I’m afraid their body heat will raise the temps and harm the servers. I am creating a handful of people who think servers are way more temperature sensitive than they are.

  26. Alicia*

    The A/C thing drives me insane. Coming from a climate that oes have distinguishable seasons, and being employed by an environmental sustainability centre, it seems absurd to me that I have no control over the A/C (though each room is separately monitored and can kick in on its own depening on passive heating and cooling). In fact, it is so low that we have resorted to opening windows to let the A/C OUT… what a green initiative, indeed.

  27. CathVWXYNot?*

    The thermostat wars in my office are actually way worse in cold weather than in the summer. Right now, everyone agrees that we need to get the office as cool as it can possibly get; I’m in Vancouver BC, where full-on AC is only really needed a few weeks a year, so in our current stretch of fabulous weather it’s still a bit too warm in here even with our puny AC on its maximum setting. (It’s still cooler than my house though, which has no AC at all and is currently a baking hot oven full of cats impersonating bear skin rugs).

    In cooler weather, the office is always far too hot and stuffy for me – the person who sits next to the thermostat always says she’s too cold and turns it up to 25C (77F), while those of us who burn a little hotter sweat and suffer. (I keep my house at 7oF MAX in winter, although it’s currently reading >80F. Yes, I have an old thermostat that’s in Fahrenheit for some reason). So I wear t-shirts in the office in February, and am still too hot.

    IMO it’s much, much easier for someone who’s too cold to warm up by having a hot drink or putting on a sweater than it is for someone who’s too hot to cool down, assuming they’re not allowed to strip off layers of clothing…

    1. Anonymous*

      I was in Vancouver the first week in July for a conference. It was unbearably hot and stayed at UBC conference accommodations that were dorms with no ac and no fans, with only one window opening up a bit. It was awful

      1. CathVWXYNot?*

        I sympathise – it can get really hot here. Just not very often (June is known as June-uary and I sometimes have to put the heating on in August), very rarely for as long as it has been this summer, and almost never when UBC students are actually using the dorms!

  28. Elizabeth West*


    #8–…”even if all you want to do is flop on your porch with a cold drink and a fan.”
    Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesss omgggg

    Great article, Alison!

  29. Danielle*

    A/C Wars *angry face*

    When I was a shelver in the library, I would be pouring with sweat with the A/C on 75 because I was running around shelving books, picking up after people, and dodging dozens of kids from the summer reading program. The librarians would be at the reference desk, nice and cool, because they weren’t doing anything physical. I understood this, since it’s pretty self-explanatory: physical labor=more sweat.

    Now that I’m a librarian, I’ll put the A/C on 68 because I know what the shelvers are going through.

    The thing is, you can pretty much always get warmer (with a desk job) by drinking tea, wearing a sweater, putting a blanket on your lap, etc. But it’s almost impossible to get cooler, especially if you’re moving all the time.

    I feel like people who are always cold should give a little on this, because you can always put clothes on, but you can’t take clothes off (at work!)

    1. Jamie*

      This! And as someone who is always, always cold I have never once asked that they change the temp for me…because it’s so easy for me to just pop on a sweater or have a snuggie on my lap.

      I would much rather be cold than hot, hot is miserable, and I wouldn’t subject my co-workers to that just so I could go sweaterless.

      1. Editor*

        The most comfortable job I ever had was working with a curmudgeon that I supervised — he’d been there a long time before me and wanted a cold location — and I didn’t have to be the one who was always wishing I could turn the thermostat down. Even though I like a cold workplace, I never got involved in actually trying to control the temperature, because early on I saw how upset people got.

    2. Gobbledigook*

      A/C Wars seriously sounds like a reality show on A&E: “Which coworker will win the battle this week in the fight to control the office temperature??” dundundunnn

    3. Rana*

      It really depends on how cold it is, though. It’s not a big deal for me to put on a sweater, for example. But some of the places I worked at kept it so cold I was wearing a sweater, a fleece on my lap, a hat, and had to wear fingerless gloves in order to be able to function. When your teeth are still chattering, and you can’t type well because of the cold, it’s too darn cold!

      (That said, I’m sympathetic to the plight of the sweaty. But surely there’s a middle ground in there somewhere.)

  30. Cruella Da Boss*

    We have a collection of ofice supplies doing double duty in air conditioning redirection. We also have the issue of one end of the hall being cooler than the other. Truly a no win situation.

    Our office sent out an edict that the thermostat would be set at 72 degrees. Period. Everyone was encouraged to dress in layers so that everyone could remain professional, while trying to remain comfortable.
    The thinking was this:
    If one is cold, then one should bring a sweater/jacket. It is much easier for one to add more clothing to get warm, than to subtract clothing to get cool.

  31. some1*

    My pet peeve is when men in offices complain that they can’t wear shorts in the summer since women can wear skirts. I always remind them that I have to wear a top if I go to a beach or pool but they don’t.

  32. Rebecca*

    #2 and #4 – Thank you for this. I’m sending it to my manager. The same girl who can’t pull up her pants (so her behind shows when she sits in her chair), seems to think wearing a contrasting color bra with a spaghetti string cami top 2 sizes too small over top of it with shorts and flip flops is proper attire. I really don’t need to know her bra is purple, with 5 hooks in the back.

    1. Emma*

      Were our coworkers related? Ages ago I worked with a person seemingly in similar denial of her own sausage-meat-to-casing ratio. There were several times when the first thing clients saw when they entered that office was a whole lot of skin due to her too-small shirts riding up while she sat. I always wondered if anyone talked to her about that, because our manager dressed to the 9s in suits and surely would not have tolerated it.

  33. mel*

    Ohmygosh I wish we could have AC wars but I work in a kitchen where hot steam is blasted into my face every 60 seconds and AC, recirculated air and even windows are non-existent! Auuuuggghhh.

  34. Manda*

    On one side of the battle are the people who freeze in overly air-conditioned offices and end up wearing cardigans to stay warm, despite sweltering temperatures outside.

    Oh this is me. I don’t just mean in work scenarios, but anywhere. I hate going to somebody’s house, or to the grocery store or whatever, and having to bring a sweater with me on a hot day because the AC is too cold. I end up sitting inside wearing capri pants and a hoodie.

    1. Windchime*

      This is how I am at restaurants. It’s been in the 80’s here in Seattle (yay!), but when I go to restaurants, I make sure and take a warm sweater and a scarf, because I will invariably be seated directly beneath an air vent that is shooting ice-cold air directly onto me.

  35. Bonnie*

    We did solve the A/C wars problem. When we moved, we found out that our open floor plan area had two temperature zones. We announced that we were going to have a warm section and cool section. Then we allowed people to choose their desks and they chose without consideration of the temperature. So we don’t allow them to complain, they had the choice and didn’t use it.

    1. Chinook*

      How do you handle new employees? Do you give them the option of the warm sectino or cool section when they start? Is there a time frame once a year where people are allowed to swap if they discover they chose wrong? This isn’t snark – i really want to know.

  36. Scott M*

    Maybe it’s because I live in the south, where everything is air conditioned, that I don’t see any issue with the temperature. I go from an air conditioned house, to a air conditioned car. I park in a parking garages so the car stays shaded. I work in an air conditioned office.

    Seriously, where are these people getting hot and sweaty? Do they work in a sweatshop or jog around the park at lunch?

    1. Lillie Lane*

      I work outside, park in an unshaded lot, and neither my house nor vehicle has air conditioning. That’s how I get hot and sweaty.

    2. Rachel*

      Anyone who takes public transit spends at least part of their commute out of the air conditioning. There’s the walk to the bus stop or subway station, waiting for the bus or train, then the walk from the stop/station to the office. I walk a mile before I get to the office every day, so yes, if the weather is really bad in the morning I get hot and sweaty during my commute. If I need to run an errand at lunch, I get hot and sweaty. There’s no way around it.

      1. Felicia*

        I also happen to always get the bus/streetcar without the air conditioning. 90% of them have air conditioning, but I always get the old ones. Also sometimes I have to wait for the bus to come for 5-10 minutes in the heat, then when i get to the subway, that’s another 5-10 minute wait on a platform with no air conditioning that feels hotter than outside. and they never stop right in front of work so that’s another 5 minute walk. A 5 minute walk when it’s really hot and humid is a lot.

    3. Amy*

      For those of us who work in cities and without cars, our sweatiness comes from walking to/from public transportation to/from work, usually. Sometimes it can be a long walk…

      1. Rana*

        Yes. And sometimes just standing on the platforms, with no shade in sight, is bad as well.

    4. Y*

      Well, I, for one, live in a country where air conditioning is extremely uncommon for buildings. I know very few offices which have them and zero personal households.

    5. Windchime*

      Most homes here in the Seattle area don’t have AC. Offices and restaurants do, but many homes do not. So it’s pretty easy to get hot and sweaty if you’re vacumming your living room and it’s 83 inside.

  37. SysAnon*

    My husband is an HVAC tech at his company and his group manages four large office buildings. All the thermostats are locked and kept at 72 degrees.

    He frequently gets hot and cold temperature calls. They check the temp in the area with a special tool and make sure the vents are properly set up. If there is air blowing they can redirect the air flow.

    But once they make sure everything is working properly, the hot or cold person is out of luck. :-)

  38. Tony in HR*

    I have had a huge fight over flip flops this summer. Employees have simply needed to argue with me every time I bring it up. The saddest part is that half of our building is a warehouse-type environment, and they don’t understand why I get so frustrated with it.

    My worst was an employee in shipping last week. He works around heavy boxes, pallets, large wheeled racks, pallet jacks, etc. but had to argue with me that he’s perfectly justified in wearing Croc-style flip-flops and the company won’t have to pay for his worker’s comp if he’s injured becuase of the policy violation. That’s not how it works!

    1. Jamie*

      I know you weren’t asking for advice, but the only way to make this a non-issue is to pull everyone off the floor when their clothes/shoes are violating safety policy.

      You aren’t dressed in accordance with policy you don’t work. You don’t work, you don’t get paid.

      Of course you can’t have people in flip flops in a warehouse environment – I’d send someone home for that as fast as I’d send them home if they showed up without wearing pants.

    2. FRRibs*

      Put it in the handbook, give them an annual stipend for approved safety footwear, and if they show up without it they are off the floor and off the clock until they go home and come back with the correct footware. That’s safety, not fashion.

    3. Lora*

      In a warehouse, why are they not wearing steel toes?

      We have a Shoemobile that comes around once a month with safety shoes the company pays for. It’s a sort of van/truck thing. You get a voucher from EH&S and just go to the truck when it comes around, pick out what kind you want and tell them what size. If they don’t have your size, they UPS them to you. Then the shoes stay on-site in a locker room. Nobody can say, “I left my shoes at home,” or “I don’t have…”

  39. Allison*

    I remember when I worked overnight security in my school’s dorms, and I did a bunch of shifts over the summer where the air conditioning was so bad I had to bring a wool hat, scarf, and a second sweatshirt to work so I wouldn’t freeze! I think it’s because the fan was kept at the same level overnight even though there was no sunlight coming in and hardly anyone passing through the lobby, making for one really cold room!

    But then sometimes I’d end up in an older building with no air conditioning and I’d need shorts! I was commuting by train into the city for this job and I needed to haul all this stuff to be prepared for all kinds of temperatures.

  40. jesicka309*

    I miss summer. So much. Give me sunshine, AC Wars and questionable summer outfits any day. I’m sick of levaing when it’s dark and coming home when it’s dark, scraping ice off mty windshield, and having my weekend sports cancelled due to flooding rain. Also sick of toilet training a puppy in winter (I know, puppy, I wouldn’t want to walk on the wet grass to pee either, but must you do it right in the doorway instead??)
    :( I just want to wear dresses without jackets and go for walks in the sunshine and the beach and swimming and Christmas and New Years and BBQs and I MISS SUMMER.
    I will be glad when these things don’t happen anymore
    -Eating my lunch at my desk because it’s too cold in the break room because the smokers keep opening and closing the door
    -Misjudging the weather and wearing a dress that, despite my tights and slip and jacket, is far too lightweight and I’m freezing all day
    -Blowdrying my hair only to get rained on
    -Stepping in a puddle and having to work with wet shoes/tights all day
    -Forgetting my lunch and having to walk through rain/wind/cold to buy some
    I’m so jealous of all of you right now.

  41. BCW*

    The hatred of flip flops is very interesting to me. I’m someone who wears them just about every day in the summer. I don’t know why “flip flops” are unprofessional, but “sandals” are professional. I understand if you are working in a place where customers are coming in everyday, but if you are in an office where everyone is just on the computer or on the phone, why do you care?

    1. Windchime*

      I think people object to the slapping sound they make when you walk. I personally don’t care or notice it, but I can see how it would get on someone’s nerves once they tune into it.

      1. BCW*

        Fair enough, but is that really any worse than the clicking of high heels walking across a tile floor?

          1. BCW*

            Well, maybe you just notice it more because it bothers you. Personally, I don’t notice the flip flop sound, but I definitely notice the high heels sound. Maybe its because I’m a guy and wear flip flops as opposed to high heels.

  42. Jessa*

    Honestly as someone with a medical condition that A: makes me hotter physically than normal (thyroid) and B: makes it hard to breathe in the head (asthma and COPD,) I’m sorry but if the person next to me needs to put on a sweater sometimes, so what? It’s easy to add clothing, it’s impossible for me to take any off and still remain professionally dressed. It also causes me to have to be absent if I cannot breathe due to the temperature.

    I see no reason why those who are cold can’t adapt easier than those who are hot.

    1. BCW*

      In your case, it may just come down to explaining your condition. I think most people wouldn’t have a problem putting on a sweater or something if they knew it was because you had a medical condition as opposed to you just being demanding. And I understand disclosing a medical condition isn’t something you should have to do, but if you are constantly making other people uncomfortable without any context to why, it can come off really badly

      1. Jessa*

        I get this, but in general even without having to disclose such a thing (which I did, actually back in the day smoking was permitted in buildings I worked in a small office, where I traded the boss could smoke in HIS office with the door closed for *I* controlled the a/c system.) But in general it is easier to layer ON clothing that you can take off at will than to be able to take OFF clothing when you already have the minimum ON.

        My general point is that even without a person with a condition is that whilst it is uncomfortable, people who are COLD have far more options than people who are hot. Therefore if business needs are met (costs, etc.) the balance should tip towards the hot people.

        1. Rana*

          There are limits, though. I basically agree with you, but the response still needs to be sensible. If I’m having to wear hat, gloves, sweater, and coat, even in summer, in order to be able to do my job properly, I think that it’s too cold! And, yes, I have had jobs where I worked under those conditions, but it was not easy; I spent most of the day shivering and couldn’t type very well. Some of us do not tolerate cold very well, even with extra clothing and a space heater.

          1. BCW*

            Exactly. I keep a fleece in my drawer for situations like this. However, its summer, and my office is fairly laid back with wardrobe. If I’m wearing a summer type of outfit, I shouldn’t have to dress like its winter to be comfortable.

            Also, at some point, you can’t expect 75% of people to be uncomfortable to make the other 25% more comfortable.

  43. Skye*

    Two of my coworkers like to keep the A/C between 67 and 69. So they can run space heaters in their offices comfortably.

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