how can I dress professionally in horrible summer heat?

A reader writes:

I’m wondering if you can help shed some light on standards of professional dress in the office. I work on a large college campus, it’s summer, it’s hot, and I have a 15-minute walk (uphill!) to my car. Everyone else in my office has a two-minute walk because parking is doled out based on seniority and rank.

So, I get REALLY HOT on the walks to/from my car. I try to dress as professionally as possible—dresses and skirts/blouses—but in the summertime, I sometimes opt to wear shorts (similar to these) underneath my skirts to help prevent what I affectionately call “chub rub.” The shorts are mostly invisible, but can sometimes be seen if I move in a certain way. I didn’t think anything of it until recently when a (female) colleague of mine blurted out, “I can see your Spanx!”

Now I’m paranoid! I’m the youngest on staff (I’m 30, and most everyone else is 55+) and I don’t want to appear as if I don’t understand professional norms … but I’m also chubby and hot. Should I nix the idea of shorts under skirts unless they’re completely invisible? Also, thoughts on cold shoulder tops/dresses?

Shorts like those under a skirt are totally fine.

Your coworker’s comment was rude and unnecessary. Hopefully she just blurted it out without thinking and didn’t really intend to imply you were doing anything that needed to be corrected. But if it happens again, I suggest raising your eyebrows and saying “Okay” or “They’re there so that’s all you see” or just a flat “Yes, I’m wearing bike shorts under my dress.”

As for cold shoulder tops … I think they’re the devil, but I’m fighting a losing battle on this. I’d say it really depends on your office. If no one else in your office is wearing them, I’d skip them (and the same goes for any other clothing item with deliberate cut-outs). But if others are wearing them— and they’re others who are generally professional and respected, which is an important distinction — it’s probably fine, much as it pains me.

{ 683 comments… read them below }

  1. Hills to Die on*

    Not much to add but sympathy. This is why I live in a cold climate. I hate, hate, hate being hot.

    1. Summer h8er*

      I’m the same way but I haven’t found a state with cool summers yet. And I’ve lived in Mass where the winters are blizzards and temps go well below freezing, unfortunately the summers it can get to the 90s…mind if I ask what state you’re in? Or round about area? I hate the heat!!!

      1. Your Weird Uncle*

        Don’t want to derail, but had to commiserate on hating the heat. Every year I just endure summer as best I can, and always look forward to either the random cool, rainy days that come every so often, or look for any sign that autumn is on its way. And if I tell people how much I hate summer, they look at me like I just kicked a puppy!

        1. SarahKay*

          I will join you in the puppy-kicking-level-of-evil that is hating summer.
          Actually, I’m in the UK, so mostly it’s only about 2 -4 weeks of summer that I hate, but right now we’re two weeks into a heatwave that shows no signs of ending and I hate it so much.
          Wish sleeping at my nice air-conditioned office was an option….

          1. Your Weird Uncle*

            I spent 6 years living in the UK (as a Midwestern US transplant) and I loved the weather most of the year! But yeah, those few weeks of summer are brutal. I can endure the heat much more here, and it gets way hotter for way longer, but I think it’s the general lack of air conditioning there. It’s just so hard to get away from the heat.

            Give me rain and gray all year long, frankly.

        2. Avalon Angel*

          I have MS, which is heat-reactive. I used to love the summer, but those days are long gone.

          1. The Original K.*

            Sign me up with the hate-summer crew. I’ve always hated being hot and my mother has MS, so seeing how much harder it is for her in summer makes me hate it more.

          2. Specialk9*

            In a pinch, here is a hiker’s trick for very hot or cold weather: fill a water bottle with icy or hot water, and put it between your legs, against your femoral arteries. It really makes a difference. (I recommend dark pants with ice water, though, so the condensation doesn’t look like you peed yourself.)

            1. Emmeline CinderKlaus*

              Woah…Mind. Blown. What an excellent trick! It make so much sense thinking it through. Regrettably I don’t sweat properly, overheating is extremely easy and a very real risk for me. Already had 3 incidents of almost passing out at my desk from heat in our office in the last month, this will help so much. Even with AC sometimes it gets to be 90+ degrees because of where we are in the building, blech.

              OP, I also wear dresses with bike shorts to work most days in the summer (thigh chafe is the woooorst). I really think it’s fine. Allison’s spot on, just mention it in the moment next time and it’ll likely be fine. Your coworker may not have realized what she saw wasn’t specifically an “undergarment,” just literally an extra normal layer of clothing for comfort. If she thought it was underwear she most likely thought she was being kind in letting you know it was visible so you could adjust (kinda like the dress equivalent of someone’s fly being down, or pointing out stuff stuck in your teeth type of logic).

        3. Hush42*

          Yes! The city I live in generally gets the Golden Snow globe each winter but our summers are also very hot. I HATE being hot but every time I say that people look at me like I’m crazy and tell me that it’s better than the snow. I very much disagree- I can handle snow but 100 degree days are just too much for me. Autumn is my absolute favorite time of year though.

          I handle my professional outfits the same way as OP- I wear short sleeve blouses with skirts and shorts underneath to prevent Chub Rub or dresses with shorts underneath. No one has said anything to me about it but I feel like commenting on peoples Spanx or whatever is super weird.

          1. Effective Immediately*

            Oh heeeey probably-live-in-the-same-area buddy! *waves*

            Everyone’s also telling me I’ll take my words back in winter but nope–I can put on more clothes, I can only take so many off.

        4. tra la la*

          I’m not a fan of summer either. I live in the deep South, but my family is from the upper Midwest and really intense heat + humidity makes me feel sick. Plus the pollen and air quality here is not great, so it just feels miserable all around. I like cold weather but don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to move someplace colder…

      2. Mpls*

        +1 – The two cold states I’ve lived in (Minnesota and Montana) are both having 80-90 degree days this summer. But that’s also not every summer, but it’s often enough that you have deal with it.

        Some summers are just hotter than others.

        1. Gatomon*

          This summer in Montana:
          4th of July: high 76 degrees, low 37 degrees
          5th of July: high 96 degrees, low 50 degrees

          It’s enough to make me consider Antarctica.

      3. AKchic*

        I live in Alaska. I hate the heat. Our summers are still hot (for us). And we who are acclimated to our temperatures feel heat differently, and Alaskan “hot” is different than the “hot” in different areas (or so I’m told).
        Hot here is still hot.

        1. Specialk9*

          Oh yeah, acclimated temps can be brutal. I lived in the desert once, and after scorching summer months, the winter was rainy and cold, and I’ve never been so cold in my life. 6′ of snow had nothing on that winter.

        2. Geillis D*

          Ah, the evil acclimation. When I lived in Hot Humid Place, 24C felt like a breath of fresh air after 33C and 300% humidity. Moved to Cold Dry Place and now 24C is almost unbearably hot, especially if it’s a cloudless day and the sun feels like its about to deep fry your soul.

        3. yasmara*

          I went back to my 20th HS reunion in June 2013 & Anchorage had highs in the 90’s. It was insane.

      4. periwinkle*

        Come hither to Seattle, where you can wear full makeup and full business attire in July & August without becoming a sweaty mess. People will look at you funny, though, since they’re in jeans and flannel. It’s July 9 and it’s about 74 degrees with no discernible humidity. That’s normal summer weather. As a transplant from DC, I love Seattle summers.

        (let us not speak of the other 10 months)

        1. melting*

          oof, how long have you been in seattle? i’m a native and the 70+ days have been killing me, haha. but then, i walk to work, and most of the walk is in direct sunlight.

        2. MsChandandlerBong*

          I love DC, but I will never set foot there in the summer again. I went for two days last summer and nearly keeled over while walking around. In every photo, my face is as red as a tomato, and I was soaked the entire day.

            1. kab*

              My boss and I did a full northeast trip a couple of years ago (in July), including both D.C. and Baltimore. Baltimore was empty, apparently because it was so hot. Both places’ weather was comfortable compared to Tennessee in July with no air conditioning.

            2. Specialk9*

              A friend was talking about going to grad school in Baltimore. We walked outside in the atypical 100° humid heat, making it hard to even breathe. I told her every summer day in Baltimore is like this. She decided maybe another school would be a better choice.

          1. I'm actually a squid*

            I lived in Dallas during the summer of 99 straight days of 100+ weather and commuted 40 minutes in a vehicle without AC … and I counted myself fortunate that I was no longer in DC.

            I actually love the heat and hate the cold but there’s something about DC that makes the heat feel wrong.

        3. Windchime*

          No kidding. Seattle summers are chilly but nice. The rest of the year, it rains non stop. So if you like gloom and clouds, come to Seattle.

          1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            Exactly why I left WA after two years and came back to sunny CA. Turns out it’s not a great place to live if you have seasonal depression…

          2. Treecat*

            I live in Seattle and I love it… and I grew up in Southern CA! But I am a person of mainly indoor hobbies who love nothing more than curling up on the couch with a big cup of tea and having nowhere to go or be. When it’s nice out that just makes me feel like a lazy slob. But in Seattle that’s the best way to spend most of your free time. ;)

        4. Violet*

          I was coming to say this. One of the things I love about Seattle is the mild summers. There’s always a week or two where it hits the 80s or even the 90s, but generally it’s in the 70s and no humidity. I’m originally from Atlanta and I love the weather here.

          (Yes, even the 9 months of grey.)

        5. Hates to Be Hot*

          I too wonder how long you’ve lived in Seattle. I also live in the Pacific Northwest, and it still gets very hot here in the summer. I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t have air conditioning, and walking in the mid-day heat would be awful. (Sure, there are nice days too, but there are plenty of really hot days!)

          1. periwinkle*

            I’ve lived here long enough to partially acclimate (anything over 80 is hot, and 83 is too damn hot) but not enough to forget what a truly wretched hot summer day feels like.

            I like the gray weather, actually, because it’s often quite dreary in the morning but sunnier in the afternoon. Also it’s an excuse to drink massive quantities of coffee and wrap up in cozy fuzzy blankets with a cat sprawled across my legs.

          2. Sam.*

            I lived in the PNW for a few years. There were definitely some unpleasantly hot days but I’d previously lived in super hot and humid places (Texas and DC), so for the most part, I thought summers in Oregon were absolutely heavenly! (Not heavenly enough to make up for the winters, though. I’ve since moved to the Midwest and faaaar prefer the bitter cold and snow to months and months of grayness and dampness. Ugh.)

        6. many bells down*

          I live in Bellevue and Friday it was sunny and 75. When I got home from work at 4:30, it was sprinkling. By 5:30, it was pouring rain like the end of the world. I love Seattle.

        7. Horatio*

          Seattle native…anything above 70 makes me feel like I’m dying. And my office is FREEZING cold, so I always have to play the layers game with the hot walk to and from the bus stop. But I’ve been to other places in the summer and definitely feel lucky for our weather. 55 degrees and raining is my idea of perfection, and we get that 10/12 months, so I count my blessings and dread the day when I’ll likely have to move to the East Coast in order to take the next step in my career (arts).

        8. just peachy.*

          Funnily enough, every time I’ve been in Seattle it’s been in August, sunny, and 90+ degrees.

      5. jessejane*

        The Oregon coast and Northern California coast NEVER gets warm! lol I was there once in July on a 65 degree day. The locals were visibly sweating and called it heat wave. I was freezing in my hoodie!

      6. tara2*

        If you’re looking for cool summers, your only real option is to be by the ocean. I live in Canada, and the summers kill me, so I don’t think going north is going to help you. However, I used to live near the coast, which had much more moderate summers than where I am now, and there was usually a good breeze, which helps too.

        1. Clorinda*

          The only habitable part of Canada is the southern tip of Vancouver Island. It’s like Seattle but far less rain.

          1. karin*

            Hello from Vancouver Island! But shhhh, don’t tell anyone about us, we’re trying to keep it a secret ;)

      7. zora*

        San Francisco rarely gets above 70, especially in the summer. This weekend I was out all day in a short sleeve shirt and it felt so weird!

        1. Specialk9*

          I feel like pencil skirts in general increase sweaty chub rub. I generally prefer fit-and-flare skirts in summer.

      8. Hills to Die on*

        Summer h8er, I live in Wyoming. It’s hot for about 3 weeks(currently in a rental with no AC, FML) but even at night it cools off beautifully. And we still get lots of sun, even in the winter. Lots of snow, but lots of sun too. I love it here.

    2. No Mas Pantalones*

      Got room for a girl and her cats? :-) I would like to live in a meat locker. Inside a glacier in Greenland or something. Instead, I live in Texas. How’s that for being born under a bad sign?

      1. Hills to Die on*

        Oof. Tons of jobs here in Wyoming. I think it’s the most beautiful place in the world and yes, I love cats!

    3. RUKiddingMe*

      The other morning I went out on the patio. It was one of those nice cool, slightly foggy, crisp, marine air type mornings where you want to sit on the deck with a cup of “International Delight” watching the waves and listening to a fog horn as you spy far out in the distance a ship on the horizon.

      I turned to (one of) my cat(s) and said “this is why we live here” (Seattle). I texted my niece who used to live with me but who has since moved to Oklahoma (note: we are all originally from San Francisco) and her reply is something I can’t say in polite company. :) Yes, heat blows…it blows hard.

      1. Violet*

        THIS. This is why I love Seattle. The rainy, grey winter days don’t bother me – at least it’s in the 30s-40s or above, and I love rainy, grey Saturdays where you curl up with a cup of coffee and a good book. And the summer is simply divine – warm but not blazing; lots to do; and blessedly short.

        (The only thing that bothers me is how early the sun sets in the dark days of December and January.)

      2. Goya de la Mancha*

        They should have you writing the real estate ads…because I seriously want to move their now.

        I live where the cold hurts my face so I don’t have to put up with heat and yet it’s been 90+ for the last month!

    4. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

      I seem to be the outlier here, but I hate, hate, hate being cold! Even being a little too cold is a horrible, because it’s a sensation that feels more like pain than comfort, and being a lot cold hurts like hell. And I can NOT get warm on my own once I’m chilled.
      And I’m so sensitive to humidity that I sweat like crazy if it’s humid, even if it’s cold as hell outside. I have to drive with the AC on when it rains in the winter or I’ll be *soaked*.
      I used to live in the desert and absolutely LOVED it. Give me that beautiful dry heat any day!

      1. Hills to Die on*

        I lived in the desert for 10 years. It’s gorgeous but man, I was about to lose it in October when it was still in the 90s!

      2. Specialk9*

        I feel like someone shared once that she had a medical condition that made her feel cold this exact way. I can’t remember what it is though.

      3. tusky*

        Same. I can’t focus on anything else if I’m cold, whereas if I’m hot I just feel mildly uncomfortable.

      4. miss_chevious*

        Right there with you. I will take heat and humidity for a hundred days over being the slightest bit chilly. Oddly, though, I prefer spring to summer. I just like wearing a lot of layers, I think. :)

      1. Specialk9*

        Exactly. They’re so unflattering, and they hurt my heart. (Though not as much as the recent trend for pants with a big strip removed, held together by little suspenders. Shudder.)

        I also am opposed to spending money on such a dated item. In a year or two, gods willing, they’ll be out of vogue and then they’ll just go into the donate pile, because not even ThredUp will take them. I prefer classic items that fit and flatter my shape and coloring.

    1. Exhausted Trope*

      I love skorts but have never seen ones as professional looking as these! Beautiful! Thanks for posting, Anon for this!

      1. Specialk9*

        They fit kind of tightly. I’m plus sized, but it didn’t work for me because it was 1-2 sizes small. Bummer because I really wanted Betabrand to work for me!

        1. myswtghst*

          Dang, but that’s good to know. I’m right on the edge of plus sizes and I keep eyeing Betabrand stuff, then talking myself out of it (especially anticipating going back to work in October post-maternity leave).

          1. LeRainDrop*

            I wear Betabrand’s dress pants yoga pants all the time! They work great for a business casual law office. This skort concept is a good one, but I just hate the feeling of pencil skirts. They feel too confining to me!

    2. Kheldarson*

      Oh man. Those are brilliant. I’ll need to remember those for next time I have money.

      1. Leetaann*

        I live in skorts in the summer (Hello NYC subway heat!) and I’ve bought all of mine from Macy’s. I work in an office and no one has given any indication that they know I’m wearing a skort. Instead, I often get compliments on my skirts. Example:

          1. Specialk9*

            Ha, me too. When people say that, when the average person IS plus sized, it’s not really a demand thing.

    3. Rachel - HR*

      I own a lot of betabrand clothes. Unfortunately the material on many of theirs clothes is not very breathable so I’m not sure it would help with the heat factor.

      1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        Once I went into perimenopause I had to get rid of anything that wasn’t 100% cotton, rayon, silk, or other breathable fiber, because even and natural/synthetic blend makes me sweat to the point of embarrassment (like pouring off my forehead.) And it’s next to impossible for anything that embarrass me!
        It kinda sucks a whole lot.

    4. alex b*

      I LOVE this brand for work pants and dresses; the concept of yoga-clothes-for-work sold me, and the products are classy. This skirt looks great!
      Do what works, OP! Your coworker either made a faux pas or is a jerk.

    5. Lady Russell's Turban*

      While very attractive, that skirt looks really hot to me. Most compression fabric isn’t very breathable and the narrow cut would restrict airflow.

      I find a looser, more flowy skirt to be cooler than a pencil skirt. (A-line dresses are cooler, still.) Knee-length or longer will keep the shorts from showing (although, who cares?) And aren’t pettipants still available? Does anyone wear them? We wore them as children, back in the neolithic age when even little girls were not allowed to wear pants to school. I think they would just look like a slip under a skirt and would avert the chub rub. Ah, of course, Vermont Country Store has them! I think I need to invest in a few pairs.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I have a pair somewhere, but I found that they ride up and thus do not stop the problem (and in fact made it worse for me!).

      2. Emily K*

        I find a looser, more flowy skirt to be cooler than a pencil skirt.

        Seconding this. I work in DC where relative humidity is up in the 70s and 80s for a good chunk of the summer, so even fairly breathable clothing is damp on the inside anywhere it was touching your body after a 15-minute walk outside.

        I truly love cotton-spandex blends three seasons of the year, but in summer I pretty much exclusively wear knee-length and longer skirts, as flowy and breezy as the professional context allow. Luckily my work lets me gets away with some pretty hippie-lo0king gauzy things, but for important meetings/presentations, Modcloth makes a very profesh looking midi skirt (with pockets!) that I own in several colors (link from my poster name above). It has a satiny lining so it has some professional weight to it but doesn’t cling to you on the inside and keeps enough air flowing, and the waistband is stretchy in the back but smooth in the front so it fits well with a neat, clean look.

          1. Emily K*

            Oh no, you picked the worst time! It’s not normally quite so hot as it was last week. Or rather, it’s only that hot one week a year most summers (for now, future climate pollution notwithstanding).

            I used to tell people September was the best month in DC because it was still warm when you got out of work but not sweltering during the day. But that…hasn’t been true the past couple of years. You’ll have to wait until next April for the good weather to come around again.

        1. Jenn*

          These look fantastic! I am definitely considering a buy. Summer is my worst season to dress for. Thanks!

      3. Jadelyn*

        I rely on Bandelettes for the chub rub problem in the summer – like, literally they are the only reason I can wear dresses in summer time. They’re just elastic bands of smooth fabric or soft lace (seriously, so soft, none of the scratchy stuff here!) with silicone strips on the inside to keep them in place, you pull them up and settle them around the widest part of your thighs and go! They come in various colors and they’re really great about letting you exchange if you get the size wrong, and because they’re not pants they don’t add to the heat factor.

        1. media monkey*

          seconded! i love love love these. just like the lace bits of lace top hold ups. so cool and easy to wear.

          1. Specialk9*

            Thirded. Although I’ve found that in every 2-3 pairs, 1 lone Bandelette seems to want to roll, making it trash. It still works with just one though. (And I machine wash instead of hand, which would likely keep the Bandelettes in better condition.)

            But also, bike shorts under a dress is fine! It’s like a skort.

            You can also wear deliberately long cropped leggings, say knee or just over the knee, to make it clear it’s a fashion decision (though a casual one) – but it’s really not necessary. The lady commenting on your underwear is out of line.

            Lastly, runner’s anti-chafe gel is amazing for chub chafe. I also like Vagisil powder in the undies and a tiny bit in the bra (regular baby powder will feed the yeasties, you don’t want that).

      4. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        When I was more into wearing miniskirts (*very* mini), I always wore dancer pants or aerobic wear bottoms under them, OVER my opaque tights or whatever fancy hosiery I chose to wear that day. Did not have to give one tiny eff if people saw/looked under my skirt, because all they were seeing was something that was meant to be seen anyway.

    6. OPJustTryingtoStayCool*

      I LOVE this skirt. I’m going to have to snag one myself. Thank you!

    7. Alli525*

      That is AMAZING and skort technology has apparently come a long way since 1996, when they sold a pair to 10-year-old me that only had the skirt part in the front. I always thought that was kind of bizarre.

      Also, I bought UnderSummers a month ago and have FINALLY found the solution that other bike shorts or Bandelettes were not. So in love.

    8. Workerbee*

      I am here to ask for those who get Betabrand or similar: They look so close-fitting, do they show panty lines? I wish this were something I didn’t care about–as in, god forbid I don’t present an unbroken smooth line at all times!–but it still niggles at my mind.

      1. CM*

        YES, they are terrible about that. (At least for the Dress Pant Yoga Pants; have not tried the skort.) I wear them anyway because they are so comfortable.

        1. Workerbee*

          I hadn’t thought until this moment that the skort with two layers could avoid that panty line problem–if the layers aren’t terribly thin. Sigh. That brand does look so comfortable.

          1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            But if you are wearing two layers you can def go commando. Anything else sounds way to hot & uncomfortable.

            1. Workerbee*

              I seriously and unfortunately just pictured the ridge of shorts against delicate bits. Gah!

                1. yasmara*

                  Usually skorts have a breathable seamless crotch (at least mine do). I totally go commando under leggings, skorts, etc. (my butt is *always* covered by a tunic or dress when I wear leggings) to avoid VPL (I’m strongly anti-thong for myself due to comfort issues).

      2. Breda*

        Yeah, for me it’s not about the ~line~ as it is that it points out my underwear to bystanders, which feels weirdly invasive to me! I realize intellectually that the people who will actually think about my underwear will do so with or without the visual reminder, and yet. I feel uncomfortably On Display when I have VPL.

        1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          When I wear anything form fitting enough to show VPL, it’s guaranteed I am wearing opaque black Lycra control top tights underneath (sometimes Lycra fishnets or other lacy/openwork stuff if it’s really hot) so I just go commando.

          1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            As someone who has gone out in public wearing vintage slips, girdles, bustiers, corsets, bras, petticoats, chemises, etc, I definitely don’t have an issue with people seeing or thinking about my underwear, LOL! It’s more that the type of panties I prefer leave lines & dips in some odd & distracting places.

      1. Goya de la Mancha*

        May I suggest Jockey – they make a undershort which I own about 8 pairs of. No need for underwear and keeps the chub rub at bay. If you work in a quiet office, they can give off a “swish” sound when you walk…but they work well for me!

      2. Specialk9*

        Ellos has a nice cotton skort, pencil shaped. It’s a bit short for work for me, but I’m crazy tall.

      3. yasmara*

        Woman Within, as posted above! I’m cusp-sized and their skorts are great (and mine have POCKETS, holy grail).

    9. Michaela Westen*

      I wrote it down.
      Actually, I always wear sheer energy stockings to keep warm in the office A/C! But I might find other things there!

    10. GradNowLawyerLater*

      I’d also super recommend Uniqlo’s Air-ism line! I’ve spent a lot of time living/working in Southeast Asia/East Asia, including in the summer, when the humidity is like 99% and the heat is oppressive. Tons of folks in Japan use this brand and you can layer it under your clothes, it wicks away all the sweat, and keeps you cool. I’m especially enamored of the built in bra camisoles that I layer under my clothes — way better than a regular camisole.

  2. Phoenix Programmer*

    I went to a hot college but wanted to look nicer in class. I would wear spaghetti strap tanks/camis while walking and toss on an open button overshirt with a collar. You can find a lot of these breezy button downs at Roz n Ali type stores. They cool you right down and look great over camis. Hide the sweat stains too.

    1. Future Homesteader*

      +100. I commuted to work, walking a mile each way for years. Boston’s not necessarily super hot, but it is humid and hilly. Being able to remove a layer is what saved me.

    2. LilyP*

      I did this for a summer internship in college. Just stopped outside the building to pop on a button-down before slipping into that sweet sweet AC. If this is mostly an issue for you when leaving work imo it wouldn’t be a big deal to just change into an entirely different outfit in the restroom before you leave

      Also wtf at your coworker…who thinks that loudly announcing “I’m looking up your skirt right now!” to a coworker is anywhere near professional behavior

      1. Michaela Westen*

        The times it’s been dangerously hot, I took off my button-down (cami underneath) and stockings to go home.
        The A/C in offices is too cold to wear sleeveless and bare legs, but wearing layers you can peel is very helpful!

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This is what I did when I lived in a particularly hot climate and had to walk to work.

      Also, I found it helpful to shower in the morning, leave my hair wet, and put it up in Leia buns. It would stay damp all day and helped to keep me cool.

      1. SarahKay*

        Seconded on leaving your hair wet if that’s an option. Also, I have a long sleeved white linen shirt that I use when I have to walk to work in the heat – I aim the shower at the shirt briefly, so it’s wet but not soaking, then put it on over my outfit. The evaporation is incredibly good at keeping me cool, and the shirt is dry by the time I get to work so I can just slip it off and dump it in my bag until I need it to go home.
        I’m in the UK so I only have about two weeks a year when this is an issue, but I hate those two weeks with a passion, so you have all my sympathy, OP.

        1. I'll think of a clever name later...maybe.*

          I do this when I come in from the heat. I get overheated very quickly and it takes a while before my body cools down so I have an oversized t-shirt that I wet with cold water and wear around the house until it’s dry or I’m cool. The shirt is usually dry before I’m cool, but it does help.

          Because I overheat so easily I have things in my bag that will work when I am nowhere near AC / shade. I have a little spray bottle of water that I mist on my face and neck to help cool me down. I also find that if my head or feet are hot it’s hard for me to get cool so I have this cooling foot lotion that I put on before socks and shoes. It helps keep my tootsies cool (and soft!). One of my coworkers has a gel eye mask that she freezes here at work and then wraps it around her neck before she leaves. Her AC isn’t working in her car and we just had a nasty heat wave here with high humidity. She said that and the windows being down helped her during her 60 minute commute last week.

      2. steaming buns*

        was this in a dry climate? I live somewhere really humid, and I was going to say the opposite – make sure hair is completely dried. Because when I go in with wet hair, it stays wet all day and I can feel the “steam” making me sweat more – not helpful! But maybe this is good in dry places. Or, maybe I just have some weird thermodynamics going on!

        1. LilySparrow*

          I also live in a place where wet hair sometimes doesn’t dry. In fact, it can start smelling musty by the end of the day, even if it was perfectly clean.

          Nasty humidity. Nasty.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I’m totally on board with strategic layering. Also on board with changing at work (a bunch of my male colleagues do it, and some of the female colleagues who go from yoga –> work in the morning).

      An alternative to shorts are Spanx, but I get that wearing nylon shapewear may not be any cooler or more comfortable than wearing skorts or shorts under one’s skirt.

      1. Autumnheart*

        I swear by Jockey Skimmies slip shorts. Those suckers are amazing. They are smoothing without being restrictive, feel very light and airy, and come in tons of colors including a wide range of skin colors. They’re great for wearing under skirts, sun dresses, and also white pants.

        1. dmk*

          Slip shorts! That’s what I was coming in to suggest. Slip shorts got me wearing dresses again at work during the summer. Spanx are too hot in the summer and an old fashioned slip doesn’t help with “chub rub.” Highly recommend. (Wearing a pair now!)

        2. Polar Bear Don't Care*

          Yes! And if you’re Canadian (not sure about the US) the Jockey site (jockey .ca) sells ‘off colours’ at a big discount. Currently wearing dark brown ones which are apparently an off colour, but since they’re under my skirt who cares? Not me, not my wallet. :)

        3. Freya*

          Jockey Skimmies are a thighsaver from the heavens. They aren’t as bulky as bike shorts nor confining like spanx.

        4. Little Densie*

          I shall be doing some online shopping this evening, I see. Thanks for the product rec!

        5. Ann Furthermore*

          Someone mentioned those in the open thread on Friday. Was it you? If so, then I’d like to say THANK YOU! I did not know such a thing existed. I bought a some on Saturday, and I’m wearing them right now under a pencil skirt. OMG. They are so comfortable! I bought the moisture wicking ones because I walk to the office from the train in the mornings (about 25 minutes) and then I like to take a lunchtime walk to clear my head and recharge for the afternoon. Without going into TMI territory, I’ll just say that all of my cute skirts are now back into the rotation!

        6. mrs__peel*

          The Jockey Skimmies are great!

          I also **highly** recommend men’s boxer briefs for preventing chub rub. When it’s especially hot out, it’s a lot cooler to wear those rather than layering regular underwear + Skimmies.

        7. Red Reader*

          Yep. I just spent a long weekend running around Disneyworld in maxi skirts and slipshorts. (I am not a shorts-wearing kinda gal.) Not only did the skimmies not make the heat worse, I actually found a cooling pair at Target before I went. (I have no idea how they do what they do.)

        8. A Girl Has No Name*

          I swear by Jockeys Slip Shorts – I love those things and they make wearing skirts and dresses in the summer perfect! Agree with previous commenters that they are smoothing without constricting, come in a lot of colors, keep your thighs from rubbing together, and for me they just make me feel less “exposed” vs just wearing underwear.

      2. Denise in Las Vegas (wait, WHERE?!?)*

        I HIGHLY recommend Undersummers. They are awesome. When I ordered mine I thought the sizing was off (me, a medium?) but it fit perfect.

        As a public transit user of 20 years – plan on 2 outfits and get used to changing in the bathroom. It is mega awkward at first, especially when I would end up walking out with the guys (only women in a shop, really didn’t won’t them to be seeing me in my “going to get sweaty clothing”!) but you sorta get used to it. See if you can leave shoes at the office and have a good bag. In a office you might not need 2 completely different outfits like I did.

        The biggest thing is to accept that your reality is different from the others. I had a walk to the bus, bus, transfer to another bus, transfer to another bus, 1 mile walk home. I decided I cared more about being comfortable on the commune than having to do a skin out change at work.

        1. Cordelia Vorkosigan*

          Seconded! I love my Undersummers! I also work at a large university and have a bit of a walk to/from my car. I wear tons of dresses/skirts with Undersummers. They are invisible under the dress as long as the skirt comes to the knee. If the skirt is mid-thigh length, then the Undersummers might be visible.

          I prefer sleeveless dresses worn with a cardigan or jacket. I take the cardigan/jacket off for the walk from my car and put it on in the office once I’ve cooled down.

      3. Aiani*

        This seems like a good time for me to recommend Tomboyx. All kinds of boxer briefs for different body types. They have quite a few that come in different skin toned colors so you could probably find a pair that wouldn’t show through your skirts. Also they are super comfy.

      4. Long time listener, first time caller*

        I wear Bandelettes and love them. They prevent the chafing without an added layer of clothing.

      5. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        I wish I could remember where I saw them, but I know somewhere out there in internet land is a company selling cotton or silk short bloomers. Never mind, googled and found them; ether the vermontcountrystore dot com or wintersilks dot com.

        I think these would be way more comfortable, cooler, and less noticeable than bike shorts or spanx.

      6. xms967*

        I recommend Thigh Society, myself. They’re basically perfect in preventing rub without being restrictive.

        1. Specialk9*

          Just looked them up – nice that they have a cotton center so they can work as undies.

      7. yasmara*

        Yes, strategic layering. I wear sleeveless tops or dresses and layer a blazer or cardigan over them to wear once I get to work.

    5. nnn*

      Exactly what I came to post. Tank top/cami (or a sleeveless dress, or even a sundress) when you’re outdoors, then put with a shirt over top (which you can button or not, depending on variables) when you’re in the office.

    6. Becca_M*

      I came here to say this as well. I have a medical condition that means I overheat and sweat easily, and I walk 15 mins to work. I wear sleeveless blouses or dresses to stay cool, and then throw on a cardigan and button it partway as soon as I’m in the building.

      1. SoSo*

        Yep, this is exactly what I do! Tank tops and spaghetti strap style blouses and dresses, and I carry a cardigan or nice jacket with me that I put on as soon as I get to the building. Then once I leave for lunch/the day, into my bag it goes for the walk outside. It’s an easy way to stay cooler while out in the heat but also stay covered up and not freeze to death in the AC.

    7. cleo*

      Same. And on really miserably hot days I wear a sleeveless maxi-sundress that only touches my shoulders and then put on a cardigan or button down shirt. I have one that I call my heat wave dress. It’s awesome.

      1. Specialk9*

        I was looking for maxi dresses that are actually flattering for a plus size woman. I bought one from this seller as a trial, and loved how it drapes and skims and is utterly lightweight, so I bought another 4. (At a quarter the price each of the maxis at my usual stores.) You have to size up by 2 sizes though (so if you’re 2x, buy 4x, like they suggest in the listing).

    8. tink*

      I do something similar at my job now. Sleeveless/thin strap top with a cardigan over it with lightweight but not wrinkly dress slacks.

    9. OPJustTryingtoStayCool*

      Ahh, what an awesome idea! I have tons of spaghetti strap dresses that I typically wear in the fall with cardigans, but never use in the summer because ohmygod a cardigan in summer? But this could save my life. Thank you!

      1. Jadelyn*

        You can get lightweight, short-sleeved cotton cardigans! Or try a lace or crocheted bolero or shrug. Cardigans don’t have to be heavy or warm.

        1. Workerbee*

          Yes! I have a small pile of short-sleeve crop cardigans that do the job of covering my shoulders and instantly adding enough oomph of professionalism. I tend to find them at regular department stores. Kohl’s right now has some (I was there very recently).

          1. Specialk9*

            Yeah I got several at Target. Target also had waffle weave 3/4 sleeve cardigans, which are good for throwing on in A/C, and don’t get wrinkly from being wadded up in your purse, because waffle weave!

    10. Jadelyn*

      I live in California, and in the summertime I mostly wear tank tops/camis with short sleeve open-front cardigans over them, or a cropped lace shrug or something. That way the second I step outside the office, that cardigan/shrug/bolero/whatever comes right off and I’m in a tank top and jeans, which is what I’d wear on my own time anyway.

    11. cactus lady*

      I do this but with cardigans. I actually keep a couple cardigans in my office so I don’t have to haul them back and forth. And all of my clothes match each other so I never have to think too much about what I wear – I guess this is leftover from my Catholic school days when I had to wear a uniform(and now that I don’t have to, I invented one for myself anyway I guess?)

    12. Emily K*

      I live in this kind of uniform paired with a breezy long skirt in the summer. I’m so freakin’ pale and the mosquitos can get so bad around here that the less skin I expose when I’m outside, the better. I have several linen utility shirts that the breeze moves right through like I’m not even wearing them, but they protect me from sunburns and bug bites and provide some greater modesty than the cropped tank tops I wear under them.

    13. GlitsyGus*

      I am currently wearing a tank top with a 3/4 sleeve cardi on top for this exact reason. I can take off the cardi during my commute if necessary, and then slip it on in the elevator.

      I also wear shorts under my skirts. I want to give your co-worker the benefit of the doubt and hope she was telling you she could see your spanks in a heads up way, like you would if someone’s tags were sticking out or something. If she did it in front of other people, though, that is very rude and she deserves Allison’s response.

  3. Chocolate lover*

    I wear a tshirt and sports bra to work, and change when I get there. My work pants are light enough that I don’t worry about changing those (I don’t like skirts or dresses.)

    I wear sleeveless tops throughout the year because I tend to overheat in general. I also work on a college campus and my office is business casual and the sleeveless tops aren’t an issue (other than to people who are regularly cool and keep asking me how I’m not cold.) I throw on a cardigan or jacket when I have an important meeting. I won’t wear any of my shoulder cut-out shirts to work though, something about the “peekaboo” look turns me off for work. I save those for date nights with my husband.

    1. Captain S*

      This is what I was going to suggest as well. I commute via bus or walking and when it’s 105 and humid there’s no saving my outfit. I wear shorts or a small dress to the office and change as soon as I arrive.

    2. epi*

      I wear sleeveless tops all year too– also on a college campus. It’s fine in my office to be sleeveless all day, I just prefer not to once I’m no longer overheated.

      For several years my job included a clinical role, and I had an optional white coat. That was the best! I’d wear the lightest tops I owned and just throw the coat on when I got to work. I no longer have that type of role but I always try to look for garments that can be my white coat. Why overthink it?

    3. pope suburban*

      Exactly what I came to suggest. Where I used to live, a lot of people biked to work, since it was a health-conscious kind of city. Which was often quite hot in the summer months, and which was often quite snowy in winter ones. Folks usually wore athletic wear during their commute and changed into office wear once they arrived. Sal over at Already Pretty has a couple of posts about bike commuting and handling clothing changes, which might help OP out a bit.

    4. OPJustTryingtoStayCool*

      I’m loving these suggestions. I could easily change at work! Just wondering—do you ever run into important executive-types on your way in/out? That’s my only fear with changing once I get in (not that I’d wear anything egregious, but if I ran into the president of the university while wearing shorts, I might feel a little underdressed).

      1. steaming buns*

        I think if you’re wearing some “obviously athletic wear” then they would just assume you’re walking, heading to the gym, etc., and wouldn’t think that you came to work in that outfit. Maybe they like to do the same thing! University presidents, CEOs, heck even Prime Ministers, are just people, too!

        1. Specialk9*

          Executives tend to be athletic, both from my observation and based on an article I read. I’ve seen people online comment that they started running or lifting *in order* to get into a corner office. I’m not sure if it’s causation or correlation, people who are Type A driven also tend to control their bodies, or that one must find a way to handle that level of stress. That part’s guesswork. But you’re more likely to impress an executive with athletic gear than not.

          That said, I don’t like people at work seeing quite so much of my crotch and bum, so I tend to wear bike/tennis/running skorts – bike short skirt combos. They tend to be super short, but so long as the shorts peek out I think it’s still ok. (I’m a femme woman – bike shorts with cargo shorts over are an option for others, they sell them at bike stores and online.)

      2. GlitsyGus*

        I have changed when I get to work at past jobs. I have run into folks in the hall and it’s never been a big deal, most people don’t even comment on it especially early in the morning when it’s pretty clear you just arrived. If someone, say the Spanx Patrol, feels the need to comment just give her a variation on Allison’s script, “yeah, I brought a change of clothes, this is more comfortable for the commute.” (Feel free to add, “why would you ask?” or some other pointed remark to let her know she’s being rude if you want.) If you don’t make a big deal chances are very good no one else will.

      3. Birch*

        OP, I think you’re really overthinking this! Academia is that weird world where business rules don’t really apply. I guess it could be a little more formal if you’re in admin, but really, no one cares what you dress like as long as it’s OK out in public. I guarantee you the president of the university also wears shorts sometimes. They’re just human too. Especially in the summer when there aren’t as many students around, just wear what makes you comfortable! Your coworker was rude to comment on your shorts and that has nothing to do with you.

    5. Newt*

      I find office-appropriate dresses work well for doing this sort of thing.

      I’ll put on a casual, cool floaty thing for the commute, and then just swap it out for a more office-appropriate dress on arrival.

      …I’ve also taken to buying pretty much all my professional clothes from eShakti. I find I can get away with wearing stuff that would usually be too casual, because being made to measure it fits me in a way that looks smarter, and I can generally do things like add sleeves or amend a neckline on a really cool cotton or chiffon dress so it’s got more coverage for wearing to meetings. Speaking as someone who is Fat and Busty and who struggles both with the heat and with just plain finding smart clothes that actually fit, it’s been a lifesaver.

    6. JC*

      Agreed with the sleeveless top suggestion. I am writing this right now sitting at my desk in a sleeveless top with a cardigan draped across the back of my chair. Like others, I wear sleeveless tops year-round in my business casual environment and always have a cardigan/jacket available for when I need it. And I do this even with my sweat-free commute!

    7. I'm actually a squid*

      This. I love the heat and don’t sweat easily but one summer I was commuting 40 minutes in 100+ heat (with high humidity!) in a vehicle without AC. Loose cotton dresses, frozen bottles of water, and a bathroom to change in kept me alive.

  4. Snark*

    “Oh gosh, I know you didn’t mean to blurt that out! I hate it when that happens.”

    1. Rey*

      +1,000,000 (for all people who do not deserve to have coworkers comment on their bodies)

        1. Jadelyn*

          Yes, but it was on an *undergarment* specifically, which falls closer to “body” than “clothing” on the Continuum of Things You Can Legitimately Comment On With Coworkers.

    2. grace*


      But also, I don’t get how it’s rude, honestly — I read it as the same tone where if someone’s skirt had slipped and you could see their underwear. In which case, thanks for letting me know!

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        In that case, you go up to them quietly and say “your slip is showing.” You don’t holler “I can see your Spanx!” at them.

        1. OhNo*

          Thinking of the coworker’s comment gives me flashbacks to elementary school, with a class full of children yelling “I see London, I see France!”

          A quick, quiet word is acceptable. Doing anything to draw other people’s attention to it is the rude part, at least to me.

        2. Is pumpkin a vegetable?*

          Or, your MALE co-worker (I’m a woman) can tell you, with overly loud cheerfulness from down a long hallway, that he could see the dots on my underwear through my pants! Went out at lunch time and bought new underwear. What an ass. Same deal – I’d actually have been OK if he’d pulled me aside and discreetly pointed out the issue. I’d actually have been grateful.

          1. AnotherJill*

            My mother went on for decades about the bridesmaid at my brother’s wedding who wore leopard print underwear under her bridesmaid gown.

          2. Nea*

            Someone in high school complimented the flowers on my underwear when I was wearing pants once. She honestly liked them, but I’ve never worn patterned underwear in public since.

            1. the gold digger*

              I am still traumatized by the knowledge that in 7th grade, every time I wore the orange double-knit polyester pants with the elastic waist that my mother had made for me (one of about six pairs in various colors from double-knit remnants she had gotten for a quarter each), the flowers on my cotton, waist-high undies were visible to everyone, including Elaine J, also a 7th grader but already in matching bras and panties that her rich, rich mother had bought for her at Joske’s. Or Dillard’s. Whatever the fancy department store was in Lubbock back in the day.

              It did not comfort me that Nancy L, who was incredibly naive and sheltered, was the only other girl in the gym locker room also in the waist-high undies.

              1. Workerbee*

                It is things like this in my life that I hope don’t return to me in the “life flashes before your eyes” final moments. They bug me enough by resurfacing now. Why, brain, why?

              2. Specialk9*

                So many things about adulthood don’t live up to what I expected as a kid, but being able to get things to fix things I don’t like is actually all I had hoped for.

          3. Michaela Westen*

            My colleague does that! Calling down the hallway over her shoulder, shouting into the phone which can be heard clear through our suite… She has no idea how loud she is!

        3. SheLooksFamiliar*

          Exactly! If someone hollered something like that to me, I could be tempted to sweetly reply, ‘How kind and thoughtful of you to call attention to something so personal and maybe embarrassing in front of everyone!’

      2. Rey*

        Part of why I think it’s rude is that it’s scandalous for work clothes to expose underwear (for example, wearing a very low cut blouse or low-rise pants), the purpose of the shorts in this case is to avoid being scandalous. The OP is making every effort (some would say extra effort) to be professional in her dress, and her coworker still found a way to comment on her body (about something that is totally normal and did not need to be commented on).

        1. grace*

          I agree, but Spanx are sort of like underwear – you don’t want them showing. And if OP had moved in a way that showed them, and the coworker thought they were Spanx, I can see the knee jerk reaction happening. Admittedly I have a higher tolerance for this sort of thing, but I don’t think it’s really that rude (though I see how others could/will disagree), and I hope OP doesn’t dwell on it for long.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            But did you click on the link in the OP’s post? The shorts she’s wearing aren’t like Spanx at all. They aren’t anything that would be scandalous if exposed. (And even if the OP were wearing the most scandalous underwear possible, it’s still rude to YELL that you can see it.)

        2. Natalie*

          I’m not sure how the coworker is supposed to know that they’re bicycle shorts and not shapewear? The difference between the two items is essentially labeling more than anything else.

          Unless this coworker has a history of being inappropriate, this seems like a good place to assume good faith instead of trying to clap back at them.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            If they look like the ones in her link, they’re pretty obviously cotton or a cotton blend, and they’re not in typical shapewear colors.

            1. Natalie*

              Those read even more as underwear to me than Lycra bike shorts would, frankly. Obviously the coworker shouldn’t yell across the room about it, but I still think snippy shut downs are the wrong move here.

              1. Rey*

                I guess that’s part of what we don’t know, because OP doesn’t really say anything about the coworker in question. I can think of two previous coworkers that could fall at both ends of the scale (trying to be helpful versus trying to be dramatic/embarrassing).

                I would like to point out that we often tell victims of rude people to “take the high road” or “not to stoop to their level”. (This is an absurd excuse-the high road is oversold to oppress your voice and your very honest and realistic emotions.)In reality, there is no universal response and the victim has several choices about what feels like the right response to them, usually based on their relationship with the person and their own emotions in the moment. It can be doubly hard for someone to make a decision about this at work, because it can feel like their job (and promotions, raises, reviews, how they are perceived in a professional setting) is on the line. And, it’s often more socially acceptable for men to clap back and their request is taken seriously, whereas women often face more consequences because they are perceived to be criticizing (women are expected to be soft and demure). There are also additional problems that come into play if the OP is a person of color.

              2. Rusty Shackelford*

                Personally, I think the fabric of the shorts is irrelevant. It’s never appropriate to yell that you can see someone’s underwear.

                1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  This. Plus how are spanx and Lycra bike shorts all that much different? It’s absurd to me that something that perfectly acceptable to wear as sports gear suddenly becomes OMG FORBIDDEN!!1!11! once it gets called ‘underwear’ instead.
                  Same with bras and panties- I have no idea why something that actually covers MORE of a person than the average 2-piece bathing suit is somehow considered to be so much more scandalous.

        3. AnotherJill*

          Ehh. I can think of tons of things more scandalous than getting a glimpse of the shorts a coworker is wearing under a skirt.

        4. Elsajeni*

          I think the fact that she said “I can see your Spanx” specifically is also part of it — because Spanx are marketing as slimming shapewear, calling out that someone is wearing them feels a bit ruder to me than even a loud, indiscreet “I can see your slip” would, like you’re calling attention to their size on top of calling attention to their underwear.

      3. Kb*

        It’s unclear to me from the post whether the coworker could actually see, like, the actual fabric of her spanx or if she could see the lines of the shorts. I read it as the latter, which is terribly rude, imo. It’s like calling someone out for situational vpl. Sure, it’s not the best look, but it’s also the reality of being a person who moves in clothing and wears non-thong underwear.

        1. OPJustTryingtoStayCool*

          It actually was the bottom of the shorts (the fabric) and I was walking down the stairs at the same time as she was walking up. A commenter below suggested a longer skirt, which might be the answer in this particular case. :)

          1. Zombeyonce*

            I have the same “chub rub” problem and, while I prefer what you wear, if you’re wearing a slightly shorter skirt or something where your waistband would show, thigh bands like this could work for you:

            I wear them from time to time and they stay in place pretty well as long as you put them on higher on the inner thigh and lower on the outer thigh (otherwise you risk them rolling). Sometimes when it’s super hot and I want to wear a skirt or dress, I just can’t handle a pair of shorts.

            1. Zombeyonce*

              Also, Alison, do you have an Amazon affiliate link we could use? I’d love to let you profit off of my impulse Amazon shopping habits. I’ve looked around the site and not found one, but with the number of users you have here, if even half of us just used your link whenever we shopped you could see a nice kickback. I keep a bookmark to referral Amazon links just to help support sites w/content I enjoy.

          2. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            Honestly, if someone did that to me, I’d tell them to keep their damn eyes to themselves if a little bit of fabric offends them so deeply.

      4. Maddie*

        I don’t think the delivery was very nice but I would want to know as well. Maybe a little bit longer skirt will solve the problem.

      5. OPJustTryingtoStayCool*

        I didn’t think it was rude per se, but I definitely didn’t love it, haha. We were in the stairwell and she exclaimed it pretty loudly, so I can only imagine the sound traveled both up and down! But I do appreciate whenever someone lets me know I’m experiencing a wardrobe malfunction. :)

        1. CM*

          That doesn’t sound like a malfunction, it sounds like everything was working as intended! I wouldn’t take this comment seriously. Skirts + stairs = some amount of immodesty if people are looking.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            This reminds me of the Stephen King novel – pretty sure it was “It” – where the little boy liked going to the library because he could casually walk under the stairs and see up the girls’ skirts.

    3. loslothluin*

      Honestly, I’d just take it to mean she was letting OP know in case OP needed to hide it. I’d rather someone tell me than go around all day with something flashing. I’d rather someone tell me I have a tag hanging out, I’ve got my skirt in my underwear, or something.

      Though, to be honest, I don’t take offense at much. “There is no offense where none is taken.” ;)

  5. BetsyTacy*

    I wore shorts like that under my school uniform so I could hang upside down on the monkey bars and I still wear them on occasion today.

    I wouldn’t put two thoughts together about you wearing (invisible) shorts under a skirt. It sounds like a knee jerk reaction in the same vein as, ‘your pants are unzipped’.

    Also – I don’t personally like cold shouldered tops, but they do seem to be pretty prevalent in business casual offices; however, I don’t think I can ever get behind the split back tops that they’re trying to dump us with. For workouts, sure, but please don’t make me wear this to the office.

    1. hayling*

      Re: split back…I saw an Instagram ad for a cute dress and clicked on it, only to discover that the back is open. It’s so “you can stop hiding your bra and instead show it off!” I’m 35, not 15, so … no.

      1. Essess*

        I’m constantly seeing people wearing those split backs, with their bra strap smack in the middle of the back, with the bra tag hanging out. I just want to shake them and ask them if they ever learned how to dress properly.

        1. Amber T*

          I wouldn’t wear it in a professional/business setting (and I’m all for cardigans because the AC in my office makes me feel like I’m working in a refrigerator sometimes), but when your bras are $50 and cute with polka dots, why not show off the back?

          1. Former call centre worker*

            Not to disagree with you on principle about allowing a nice bra to be visible, but I don’t think the back is usually the cute part!

            1. rldk*

              But of course since this is a trend now, lots of backs are very cute. They have lace panels instead of racerback straps or extra straps that make a criss-cross. One I have even has a metallic/sparkly strap in the middle of the criss-cross to the point where I wish I felt okay with a top that would expose it!

              1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                I don’t currently have any cute bras like that, but I used to wear a lot of vintage lace bras and loved wearing them with tops you could see all or part of the bra through.

                These days, if I’m wearing a skimpy top that would show my bra, I wear a cute black sports bra instead of a regular one. Very comfy, and perfectly fine to be on view!

              2. Specialk9*

                I love the yoga-inspired tops that let one show off a great sports bra. Not really at the office though, unless walking to and from an exercise activity.

        2. JeanB in NC*

          I’m old enough that I remember when you couldn’t show your bra strap in school or work. I just have never gotten past that mentality, plus it just looks tacky.

          1. A. Schuyler*

            I don’t think you’d have to be that old. I’m in my 20s and I remember being assembled at school and told that we could only wear nude-for-us bras when in uniform because anything else would show through the white shirts. It was the height of rebellion to wear a colourful bra on a day that you wouldn’t need to remove your sweater.

          2. Specialk9*

            There are bras that are clearly meant to be seen, versus a regular bra that just slips down. I wouldn’t want either at work, but someone in a more casual environment could get away with it.

      2. Future Homesteader*

        OY. More power to women who choose to show their bras, but I hate (wearing) cute bras (they’re lumpy, they itch, they never support you well enough) and I have no desire to show off my utilitarian beige-colored t-shirt bras. And I’m perfectly comfortable with that.

        1. A tester, not a developer*

          +1 from me! My bras are more accurately described as ‘foundation garments’; nobody (except for a structural engineer) wants to see one peeking out of the back of anything.

        2. Specialk9*

          Have you discovered Soma yet? With fit testing, you get a super duper utility bra… With polka dots and little ribbons. I love Soma so much. They’re great for plus sized and busty folks.

      3. Copier Admin Girl*

        I’m guessing you meant in an office context, but in case not, I don’t think age matters here! If a 60 year old wants to wear an open back because they like how it looks, they sure should show off that bra strap. It’s A-OK for open backs to not be in your comfort zone- they’re not in mine either! Regardless of age, people should be able to wear what they want in their free time. :)

      4. BF50*

        I believe they are designed that way so that they can then also sell you a “cute” matching bra or bralette that raise the price of the outfit by $20-$40 and fall apart or fade the second time you wash it.

      5. nnn*

        Ugh. My bra is a piece of engineering. I don’t want to have to worry about what it looks like too!

      6. Tin Cormorant*

        Is THAT what you’re supposed to do? Every time I look at a cute dress and then find out it has an open back, I’m confused about where I’m supposed to find a bra to wear with it that doesn’t show in the back. Because every time someone is wearing such a thing on TV or in the movies, they’re not showing their bra… Am I supposed to use one of those adhesive “invisible” bras that just sticks on to the front?

        I don’t understand fashion.

        1. Specialk9*

          You’re supposed to have a strappy bright colored yoga bra, or wear a cami (preferably in a contrasting color) or go without if you can. That’s what I see, at least.

    2. Lemon Sherbet*

      My friend’s daughter does the same when she wears skirts or dresses while playing and they refer to them as “park pants”, and now I refer to my “undershorts” as park pants too.

      1. Jesca*

        Only the inexperienced don’t put shorts on under the dresses of young girls (I was once inexperienced and that was an embarrassing preschool graduation.) But even for women as well! Every woman I have ever worked with who wore dresses whether casually, formally, or to work always wore some level of shorts underneath. I think that it is tacky pointing out that you can see it.

    3. NotInUS*

      I HATE, HATE, HATE cold shoulder tops, dresses, anything. I thought I was the only one. I hate them at work, I hate them at home, I hate them everywhere… The inconsistent thing about all of this though is I’m OK with slits and a lot of other cut outs – just the cold shoulder thing drives me nuts and I’m not sure why I’m ok with the rest, but I generally am.

      I also work in higher ed and lot of people wear them in and around my office. I would never say anything to anyone because they are accepted.

      1. OPJustTryingtoStayCool*

        I would 100% read a version of your comment as a “Green Eggs and Ham”-style book about cold shoulder tops. I used to be completely against them but they are perfect for me because I’m conscious about my upper arms BUT I get hot in the summer. I totally get it, though!

      2. an infinite number of monkeys*

        Funny! I don’t really mind them, but I won’t buy any. I had a few cold-shoulder tops the last time they were in fashion in the early 90s, so I can tell you from experience that they’ll be out of style in about fifteen minutes. No way I’m spending money on that.

        1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          I think they are really cute, but I don’t like how they look on me. And the open shoulder just feels weird.

          Also who cares what is in/out of fashion? If you like it, wear it!

          1. an infinite number of monkeys*

            Oh I know, but I still haven’t mustered the courage to rock a three-foot-high powdered wig at work. :)

            I’m not a complete slave to fashion, though. I’m proud to say I spent a good part of the 80s cutting the shoulder pads out of my dresses.

            1. Marthooh*

              Uuuuugh, the only thing worse than a cold-shoulder blouse is a t-shirt with shoulder pads! Boo, the eighties!

      3. Catherine from Canada*

        Cold shoulder tops make as much sense as sleeveless turtlenecks.

        Which is no sense at all.

    4. Michaela Westen*

      You know you can wear whatever you want, right? Fashion trends are not laws!
      I’m having trouble finding clothes because trends haven’t made anything I like since around 2007. Luckily there are a few who still make classic styles!

  6. Delta Delta*

    Is it possible to change once you’ve arrived at your workplace? I also used to walk to work, also uphill, and would be a sweaty mess by the time I arrived. One day it occurred to me that I could bring a different shirt and put it on in the lobby bathroom before going to my office. This worked because of the layout of my building but I recognize it might not work for everyone.

    I’m personally not a big fan of cold shoulder tops, but I know lots of people like them.

  7. Healthnerd*

    I’m in the same boat. I work on a college campus but most of it is under construction so they’ve really push us using our shitty metro system (we’re not a big city so its limited). Anyways, I walk 25 minutes to work in the morning. I usually try to wear loose , sleeveless dresses or skirts with short sleeves and stuff a cardigan in my bag. I always walk in tennis shoes but have flats to change into. And I keep some extra face powder and deodorant at my desk to help with touch ups once I get in the office. My hair pretty much just stays in a low bun to keep the neck sweat at bay. But mostly, I’m resigned to the fact that I’m going to look a little rough in the summer but most others are in my same boat.

    1. Oxford Comma*

      Here’s a link. I definitely recommend making sure to measure and check their sizing chart before ordering.

      I wear Spanx sometimes, but when it gets super hot, I prefer something lighter and less constraining.

    2. Turquoisecow*

      Was going to recommend these also. Not that there’s anything wrong with shorts, but I find these comfortable under skirts on hot days, when an extra layer of fabric is not ideal, even if it does prevent rubbing and irritation.

      They come in lacy/formal types, (which may look more professional if someone sees them?) and also more bike-short styles.

    3. Cristina in England*

      Do these stay in place well if you do a lot of walking? I would love a cooler alternative to shorts.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        I’ve specifically worn them on days where I had to walk around a bunch, like around a city or a museum. I honestly did have to adjust them once or twice (discretely), but for the most part they were okay.

        The person who originally recommended them to me advised sizing down, no matter how fat your thighs are. Study the sizing rules and then buy the size lower than you think you need – they stay up better that way.

      2. Oxford Comma*

        I’ve only ever worn them to work so I don’t know. Once or twice, I have had to adjust them, but mostly they stay in place during the day.

      3. Jadelyn*

        I’ve worn them at conferences and on trips where I was going to do a bunch of walking, and never had issues with them sliding. The key is to get the right size – if you get a size too big or small, then you’ll have sliding or bunching issues, but otherwise those silicone strips on the inside grip to your skin really well in my experience.

      4. Meghan*

        I swear by them and if you have the right size, they stay in place 95% of the time. But that critical fail is always when I’m out and about walking and one starts to slip. If I can get to a bathroom, I can fix it by wetting down the grippy-section with a bit of water from the sink. Then they’ll stay in place for the rest of the day. But if I can’t do that, then I have occasionally stepped aside, removed the slipping one, and tucked it in my purse. Luckily wearing just one still works just fine.

    4. OPJustTryingtoStayCool*

      I tried those out, but I walk a lot on campus and I’ve had trouble getting them to stay put. :( But I read below that perhaps I should’ve sized down, so maybe I will give them another shot. Thank you!

      1. Same problem*

        OP I think maybe the ones you shared are cotton a bit more bulky and maybe a little hotter. I would suggest underwear that are referred to as slipshorts or like those pictured on the suggested bandalettes website. I think they may be a little more discreet than the cotton version.

    5. Zoe*

      I fail to comprehend the hatred for cold shoulder tops. Maybe this is because I’m 18 whereas everyone else seems to be much older, and I live in the tropics so I’m always looking for cute clothes and long sleeves that aren’t too hot, but I adore the cold shoulder trend. I don’t understand how someone could loathe them? Somebody explain please?

      1. Birch*

        I’m late to the comment party but I’m 29 and I LOVE them. I think they look so elegant, especially on flowy dresses! I’d love to find one that’s structured in a way that would look nice on me as a very short person with a short torso and wide hips… the trendy ones tend to be huge and billowy in the torso area and I need something more fitted to look proportional.

      2. Oxford Comma*

        I don’t think it’s an age thing. I’ve got employees in their early 20s who hate them too. Maybe more than I do, if that’s possible.

        Personally, I think they look sloppy and usually, not well made. I’d rather wear something sleeveless with wide straps or a proper short sleeve top. And also, I would need to wear a strapless bra with most of them and that’s misery making. I’m not a petite woman. My bras are not wispy little bits of things. I don’t want them exposed. And last, but not least, cold shoulder tops are not flattering to most body types.

        I work at a university and dress is more casual around here (jeans are totally appropriate unless you’re teaching or have meetings for instance), but both my supervisor and the one above that came down with a sledge hammer on cold shoulder tops as not being “appropriate.”

      3. I'm actually a squid*

        My problem is the bra issue. I’m … curvaceous, let’s say … and the only strapless bras I’ve found that keep things where they should be are full corset-style and that rather negates the comfort and breeziness of a strapless top.

      4. Michaela Westen*

        I like fitted clothes, and the clothes that have been fashionable the last few years look like sloppy sacks. Might as well take a sheet and cut armholes in it…
        Shirts with cutout shoulders just look weird – especially the ones I’ve seen with a tight strap around the neck. Weird and uncomfortable!
        It’s because my taste runs to classic, pretty, flattering styles with a fit that shows off a lady’s figure. :) A pretty flower print dress with a fitted bodice and sleeves of a flattering length – *that* is pretty! And comfortable. And doesn’t require special underwear.

      5. Specialk9*

        1. They make most people look shlumpy. I pay way too much attention to other people’s clothes, without even trying, and virtually every time I see one, it is unflattering. It doesn’t even look good on most models.

        2. They are not a good investment. They’re a trend, a very visible and memorable one, and you won’t be able to wear them long.

        3. You’ll hate them in pictures. Trends don’t tend to age well.

        4. They’re an attempt by fashion designers to change something that works fine, just to make sales.

        5. They give weird tan lines.

        6. They make bras hard to take work.

        7. I hate them hate them hate them. So much.

        1. Zoe*

          That’s weird, almost every cold shoulder top I see and own are very fitted, so I can’t say I know where you’re coming from. Most of them also don’t show the bra strap, though I can’t say I really care about that. Maybe that’s different for an office. Plus, idrc about fashion trends. If I think something is cute I’ll wear it, out or not. Though I don’t really think they’re a trend, I’ve been wearing them for like 5 years now
          If that’s how you all feel then you’re just not finding the right ones. There are plenty of gorgeous cut out tops and dresses that are fitted. Just look on Amazon

  8. Nancy*

    Alison, just another pitfall of being female in the professional world. The fashion is cold shoulder tops right now and I’ve found it extremely difficult to find affordable, professional and in my size (plus size) shirts that don’t have the shoulders cut out of them. Yes, they can be found, but the amount of effort I’ve had to put into it this season has been beyond ridiculous. As a plus size person the fashion industry irks me anyway, but as a female I’m double irked.

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      I loathe shopping, and if I finally find a print I like, inevitably it’s a cold shoulder top. I give up. This is why my work wardrobe is in serious disrepair.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I loathe cold shoulders as well, and I’m plus-sized, and UGH yes this is just another way that women are kept in our place.

      Here’s my favorite shirt (I own it in three colors at the moment; you can buy it in lots of places at discounted prices — 6pm, Nordstrom Rack, Gwynnie Bee, etc.):

      1. Maya Elena*

        I probably wouldn’t go as far as to think that cold shoulder tops were designed to keep women in their place. It seems like it’s a matter of preference. Although to be fair, certain of my things are old enough that they’ll probably be coming back into fashion soon *again*, so maybe I can’t talk.

    3. Relentlessly Socratic*

      Also–apparently this season all plus-size shirts must have GIANT RUFFLES. So professional to have those fluttering all over the place.

      1. Drago Cucina*

        Gah, yes! Why?! Just why is there an insistence to put ruffles on things. Granted, I’ve never like ruffles, but at 60 I avoid clothing that says pre-teen or Granny Clampett.

      2. RaccoonLady*

        I went into Nordstrom recently to find some more professional clothes and almost everything I thought looked potentially cute turned out to have ginormous ruffly sleeves or was secretly Seinfeld’s puffy shirt. I’m 23 so probably the target audience and I think all of that is 1) hideous 2) unprofessional 3) probably itchy

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Oh gawd, the huge ruffled sleeve is all over the place this year. I hate it.

        2. rldk*

          Also, all the maxi dresses I see that look sleek enough to be office wear turn out to be jumpsuits :[
          It’s such a struggle

          1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            My friend and I used to call that FOOLED BY THE JUMPSUIT when we’d go thrifting.

            “OMG LOOK AT THIS AWESOME DRE- oh it’s a pantsuit”

        3. A Reader*

          I have had such a hard time finding just plain old blouses and so on. I don’t want sequins or glitter or anything sparkly. I just want a plain blouse that fits!

        4. Elsie432*

          … or sleeves that are close-fitting on the upper arm but widen to a a bell shape down by the wrist. Some of them are like 6″ in diameter! How am I supposed to eat without dragging my sleeve through my dinner?

      3. ContentWrangler*

        Ugh, ruffles…so many blouses with ruffles around the neckline or down the middle which looks ridiculous on a larger bust size.

      4. Specialk9*

        And those ridiculous sleeves.

        And slim pants aren’t in, everyone needs unflattering paper bag waists, huge sashes, and wide legs.

        I mean, I’ll never not love a pair of sailor pants, but otherwise give me cigarette pants or slight bootleg, or give me – well ok, just give me a skirt instead. Death seems extreme.

    4. OlympiasEpiriot*

      I have been really shocked that it seems almost every top out there (unless I go for the denim shirts…which…no, those don’t do it, either!) has those shoulder slits. I didn’t know until just now that they had a name. I just hated them.

      All I want is cotton or silk shells that have cap or short sleeves that don’t look like tee shirts and aren’t transparent. It seems I’m going to be completely out of luck for a while.

      1. JeanB in NC*

        Agreed! It’s so hard to just find a nice pullover top that has short sleeves. I’m very frustrated because I’m hot all the time, and I don’t want to wear a shirt with 3/4 or long sleeves, but I also won’t wear sleeveless either.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          I actually really like 3/4 length, but I don’t want bell cuffs or ties around the cuff, or ruffles, or any of the other things I’ve seen lately that would make putting on a jacket awkward.

          And, besides! There should be enough of a variety for everyone’s tastes!

      2. ragazza*

        I seriously have thought about starting a line of cute short-sleeved cotton print tops, or just having some made from patterns, because good ones are almost impossible to find.

    5. Lady Russell's Turban*

      I hate cold-shoulder tops and most split-sleeve tops. Okay, if that’s your jam, wear them outside the office, but in a professional setting they look too…sexy? Even in a place where sleeveless blouses are ok, there is something about the cutouts that move cold-shoulder blouses from the realm of hot-weather dressing to sexually provocative.

      1. Jesca*

        Ya know why I have a problem with this? Like if shoulders are now sexualized because they are somewhat exposed, what is left on a woman’s body then that isn’t sexualized in some manner? I find it so odd that people find exposed shoulders. I mean, sure, be old school and think people should wear suits. I get that. But the whole sexualizing cold shoulder tops to me is just another way to focus on woman as objects. Like, what do men wear that is “sexual”? Maybe not appropriate for the office, but nothing “sexual”. Men would have to do something pretty drastic to have anything they wear be considered “too sexual for work”.

        1. SS Express*

          I don’t agree. Men’s clothing generally doesn’t show off the body the way a lot of women’s clothing does because our society treats men’s and women’s bodies very differently – and it’s definitely sexist and objectifying that fashion has evolved this way, and it’s also sexist that our definitions of “fashion attire” and “corporate attire” are so different for women yet so conveniently similar for men. But the parts of the body that are sexualised on women are usually also sexualised on men. If a man wore an outfit that was super tight, showed a lot of thigh, exposed his midriff, or was unbuttoned down to the sternum, it would be unprofessional not only because it’s insufficiently corporate but also because it’s too sexy.

          With cold-shoulder tops specifically, I don’t think women’s shoulders have suddenly become sexualised. Showing the upper part of the shoulder has always been off-limits for corporate attire (sleeveless shell blouses are okay in some places but strappy camis almost never are), and there’s also the issue that the cut-out itself is suggestive, regardless of what it reveals. It kind of communicates “this part of my body was meant to be covered…but oops, it’s peeking out!”. It’s like the women’s tops and dresses with those keyhole cut-outs on the chest or upper back: while they usually don’t reveal any more than another office-appropriate neckline would, they do have a bit of sexy pin-up vibe.

          1. Specialk9*

            I’ll admit, as a straight woman with a thing for male shoulders, I’d find male cold shoulder shirts to be fairly sexy, on some guys. And those split back shirts. Be still my racing pulse.

            But also I agree about the problematic ways gender and fashion critique intersect.

      2. OhBehave*

        I agree with you. I unknowingly bought a blouse at Cate that had split sleeves. I sewed them back together!

      3. Michelle*

        I loathe the cold shoulder tops too…my coworker is a big fan (she even has one with sheer cutouts that she regularly wears to the office. She is currently wearing a tube top jump suit with flip flops in our office that deals with customers face to face everyday!). Maybe I am just more of a prude and find them a bit inappropriate to wear in an office setting. Casual dress does not mean dress for the beach or going out to the clubs.

    6. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      haha… this was me last year with all of the ruffley fluttery arms and cuffs (Ok, will share my dorky moment with the world… I was blanking on the word cuff and almost wrote ‘wrist collar’ out of desperation!).

      I hated those blouses, you couldn’t wear a blazer or a light sweater without having this flouncy cuff all bunched up.

      I’ve learned when fashion turns around to things I prefer, I buy extra to tide me through the lean years. C’mon boot cut pants… I’m running low and it’s been years since they’ve been ‘in style’.

      1. Kately*

        I sorely wish I had bought multiple pairs of wide-leg, regular rise jeans and yoga pants. Curse me and my past budget!

        1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          I’m just dying to find 80s style jeans- fit like ‘skinny jeans’, but high waisted enough for my long torso.
          I can NOT wear anything even a little bit “low-rise”, at all, because if I can’t latch the waistband onto my hipbones, they will just slide right off.

          It’s been quite awhile since I’ve worn any pants other than leggings :cry:

          1. Joielle*

            High waist skinny jeans is basically all I wear! Have you tried Levi’s 721 style? I’m pear shaped with a long torso and the high waist fits really well.

          2. Specialk9*

            I thought high waisted mom jeans were back? Or are they just on the runways and not yet in stores?

            There’s hope for you yet, check again.

      2. Jadelyn*

        I adore boot-cut jeans and since they’re not the fashion anymore, I get them wherever I can find them – specifically, I buy them from Walmart, and they don’t last long (about 6 months until the thighs wear through) but they’re only $20 a pair, so I figure it’s a good trade-off.

        1. the gold digger*

          I got several pairs of boot-cut Levi’s on eBay for under $15 a pair when my work went jeans every day from jeans only on Friday. Used, but – they’re jeans. They can be washed.

        2. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          I just want high waist skinny jeans to come back into fashion! The ones I wore in the 80s were the perfect fit.

          I’m too tall and long waisted to do low-rise anything, they just slide right off.

          1. Specialk9*

            High waisted jeans are **HUGE** right now. Have you looked? Gap has them, Forever 21, Zara, Target, American Eagle…

      3. Violet*

        This is why I am currently stocking up on mid-to-high rise skinny and straight leg jeans. These are my favorite silhouettes and I need to have a good stock for when the low-rise jean comes back in style! (Or, god forbid, flare legs. Props to people who can wear them, but I’m 5’2″ and they make me look like I have tree stumps for legs.)

        1. the gold digger*

          Anyone who wants tapered ankle Levi’s, Primo has all of his in a box in the basement. He is convinced they are coming back. Even if they do, I will stand between him and the door. Honestly. For a man who usually dresses quite nicely, he does not understand that looking like an upside-down triangle is not a good look for anyone.

        2. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          Where are you finding high waisted skinny jeans? I am DYING to come across some! They are the only type of pants I like wearing and I can’t even find them at thrift stores anymore.

          1. Ella*

            Uniqlo has some. Ezy jeans are tapered and then they have a couple (cigarette, boyfriend) that are straight leg.

      4. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        I do this with all my basics because I’ve learned the hard way. Good fitting bra? STOCK UP. The perfect cotton/lycra leggings? STOCK UP. Plain black cotton/Lycra ribbed tank tops? STOCK UP. Black cotton granny panties? STOCK WAY THE HECK UP!

        It has saved my dang sanity, let me tell you!

      5. Birch*

        You are a genius. I have a knack for predicting fashions while not being a super trendy person myself, and I’m STILL mad I got rid of my light cotton blazer with scrunched sleeves that I bought SIX YEARS AGO that are now suddenly all the rage! I’m now stocking up on fitted stretchy black pants and A-line skirts and buttoned dresses.

    7. Breda*

      That and SHEER. I was looking for some new work tops on ThredUp recently, and it’s just page after page of completely see-through button-up tops. WHY. If I want a sheer top, I don’t want it to be in a typically professional shape, and if I want a professional top, I don’t want to have to figure out how to make it opaque!

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        I love the sheer tops. I just wear a cami/tank underneath in the summer and a long sleeve layer top in the winter.

        1. Breda*

          I occasionally like them (I have a couple that I wear often), but it’s ALL of them, and they’re often patterned or in colors that I don’t think would look good with a black or white cami underneath, and I don’t want to invest in camis of lots of colors just so that I can wear a garment that doesn’t even serve the minimum purpose of clothing. Sometimes it’s worth it! But man, some of these are JUST sheer enough to show your bra without being sheer enough to actually get the sheer effect, and it drives me nuts.

          1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

            Oh, that might have something to do with it, I wear white under all of them regardless of color and print.

        2. OlympiasEpiriot*

          But then I have to find TWO items of clothing to cover my torso! And, again, I want cotton or silk and finding that in camisoles that don’t have lace is difficult…because…wait for it…the sheer blouses are sheer enough that lace on a camisole is visible and, please. I. Don’t. Want. That.

          Also, the sheer blouses are generally also of a synthetic. Again, I don’t want a synthetic.

          Then, I’d be wearing 3 layers on top as well…a bra, a camisole, and a blouse. A sheer blouse of a synthetic material, mind you, and I can’t use those adhesive underarm pads on sheer material but I’m going to be sweating up a storm.

          Once upon a time, there were plenty of cotton solid color blouses without lace or eyelet fabric that weren’t transparent that I could buy and not have to *think* so much about getting dressed for work in the morning!

          1. Michaela Westen*

            LL Bean has a good selection of cotton blouses. Just avoid the “wrinkle-free” ones. The toxic chemicals gave me a rash, and the stress on the material made it fall apart in less than two years.

    8. mrs__peel*

      YES, a million times yes!! I hate them as well, and they’re practically impossible to avoid now if you wear a size 14 and up and need shirts. :(

    9. Snowman*

      I’m not this post would qualify as a “pitfall of being female in the workplace.” Obviously there are many pitfalls and there can be a lot of sexism in the workplace, but in the context of this post it’s hard to for me to sympathize with OP.

      OP talks about getting hot wearing dresses, skirts, and blouses, but that’s just part of dressing professionally in the workplace. I mean, I have to wear a suit every day as a man, no matter the temperature. I’d love be able to have the much freer dress code women have in professional environments.

      1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        Then fight for it. Or move to a different industry. Dress codes are very typically classist, racist, and sexist, and should be abolished anyway.
        As long as what someone is wearing conforms to any possible safety regulations, is clean, and does not interfere with the performance of your job, there is no reason for them not to wear it.

        1. Maya Elena*

          I’m with snowman on this one. He’s not going to “fight for it” because his message isn’t that he’s also a victim; he’s saying that men at times put up with more discomfort at work and don’t complain.

          This blase claim that “dress codes are classist, racist, and sexist” – or that anything so minor and innocuous is oppressive – is so deeply problematic, in so many ways, it’s hard to know where to start. It’s not even a mainstream view. For one thing, if you’re going to live in a society, you are going to have to conform to certain rules and traditions, not all of them utilitarian, some of them inconvenient (and utilitarianism itself can get pretty oppressive). Also, we live in one of the most permissive times and societies – *ever*. There are a handful of countries where you can get a somewhat better, but if you really lived in an -*ist society like that, you’d probably pay a lot more dearly for your opinions than you do now.

          Cultural norms are not a priori oppressive. Hierarchies are not a priori oppressive. Different norms for different genders are not a priori oppressive, unless they materially dispossess one of the genders.
          Women can express themselves in a much greater variety of ways through their appearance than is acceptable for men, and many, many (if not most) women like doing that. That is freedom, not oppression. Just because suits originated from upper- or middle-class jobs, does not make having to wear one “classist”, especially if it is something reasonably affordable for the people wearing them. It’s just an arbitrary, possibly inconvenient norm. It doesn’t need to be fought and battled with fire and brimstone.

          Anyway, I’ll go make my husband a sandwich now :D.

          We have never existed in a society as permissive as Western societies as a whole, with relatively small variations in mores across countries (e.g., France vs. Scandinavia vs. US).
          Even if they don’t have an obvious rationalized utilitarian end like safety regulations or cleanliness, they aren’t a priori oppressive. Being different for men and women is not a priori oppressive. Even having an origin in something sexist 100 years ago doesn’t make them oppressive today.

          Moreover, if you hold that all dress codes are oppressive, you might want to revisit some “job performance requirements”, which might be formulated in an oppressive way – e.g., “must have good collaborative and oral communication skills” might be a covert way at excluding unattractive or socially awkward people. Safety regulations can dispossess some people too – e.g., if there is no safety gear their size!

      2. SS Express*

        I do agree with you that wearing somewhat uncomfortable clothing is part of dressing professionally at work. But why does this make it hard for you to sympathise with OP? She’s not whining about her uniquely difficult circumstances or even asking how she can get her boss to change the dress code, she’s just looking for tips on dealing with a common yet still pretty annoying problem. I would think having had a similar experience would make you *more* sympathetic, not less.

        I mean, dealing with difficult personalities is also just part of behaving professionally at work, but there’s a whole website dedicated to advice about how to make it easier.

  9. michelenyc*

    I am with you Allison. Cold shoulder tops are the worst. I was so happy when we stopped making them last year.

    1. CmdrShepard4ever*

      You just don’t personally don’t like them or you don’t think they are professional? To me it seems that they actually expose less skin than a sleeveless top/dress. Not that showing skin is unprofessional.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        I actually think that the fussier an item of clothing is (more furbelows ruffles gegaws etc) the less professional in many places. Ymmv, especially if in a totally different industry than mine…fashion, for example. I’m sure professional dressing can have a much wider context there!

        I guess in dressy business wear, I think of “sleek” and “tailored” as being the go-to look. Slits in the shoulders, extra straps, ruffles, dangly bits, etc. all take away from that.

        Aaaaand, I’m all for all of us just being judged on our work, and not appearance.

        1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          I’m all for people not being judged on appearance too…which is why dress codes should be abolished.
          A suit doesn’t make someone a better or more skilled worker than jeans & a t shirt, or blue hair and a black lace dress.
          I feel like if businesses really want their employees to present a picture of conformity, then they should supply them all with company uniforms at the business’s expense.

          1. Specialk9*

            Right but that’s pie in the sky for many places. If you want to have people consider you manager material, you have to give off manager signals, including attire. Some places that’s tee and sneakers, but most places that’s suit or suit adjacent.

  10. Manchmal*

    I wear shorts underneath dresses all the time. I’ve found ones that are a sort of flesh-toned lycra material. They are NOT spanx, in that they have no slimming function. But the flesh tone is helpful in making them more invisible if your skirt does get caught up in some way. The lace trim on the example seems like it’s designed to be seen and conspicuous if exposed, so I’d go with a pair that doesn’t have that feature.

    As for dressing for the heat, what about a sleeves shell or blouse? In the office (where it’s air conditioned!) you can wear a cardigan or blazer, and then just walk back to your car in just the shell.

    I too hate the cold-shoulder look. I had the misfortune of living through the last time they became fashionable (circa 1995), and had the horrible tan lines to prove it.

    1. Cassandra*

      Thigh Society has this sort of short. I quite like them, and the size range is fairly extensive.

      1. Cloud 9 Sandra*

        I wanted to rec thigh society as well. Their undies are comfortable, not binding, and the thighs almost never roll up for me. I wear them under my skirts, I am also short, chubby and sweat easily.

    2. trefoil*

      Me too! I have a wardrobe of “modesty shorts”, mostly Jockey slipshorts, in a variety of colours that I wear under all my dresses.

      1. Goya de la Mancha*

        Jockey slipshorts are my jam, I have at least 8. No need for any other undergarments, they don’t roll up and banish chub rub!

  11. The Person from the Resume*

    I do not understand cold-shoulder tops! If you’re hot, go sleeveless; if sleeveless is too cold, wear full sleeves. If sleeveless is inappropriate then my generalized opinion is that cold shoulder tops are inappropriate too (although there are many of factors that can play into the appropriate/inappropriate dynamic).

    LW, you have my sympathy. Have you considered dressing very lightly and changing in a bathroom the moment you get to work? I’m not talking a full shower, fix makeup, but just wearing light, loose clothing to minimize sweating as much as possible for your hike and doing a quick change.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’d love a casual, 100% cotton cold-shoulder top, because I don’t like going sleeveless (farmer tan, flabby arms) and it would be like the best aspects of a tank top with the best aspects of a t-shirt. But I wouldn’t wear it to work.

    2. Chocolate lover*

      “I do not understand cold-shoulder tops! If you’re hot, go sleeveless; if sleeveless is too cold, wear full sleeves.”

      I like the way you think. But it’s cute factor with the cold shoulder shirts, that’s why I wear them occasionally on date night. Just a little different from the rest of my wardrobe.

    3. Scott M.*

      It was my assumption that sleeveless blouses are sometimes not considered appropriate, because they expose the underarms. And some people think that’s “yucky”. I don’t care personally, but that’s the impression I get.

      Cold shoulder blouses (I had to look that up- never heard of the term) were probably considered a compromise.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        If you wear sleeveless be sure to shower and wear deodorant!
        One day I was eating at a burger bar and smelled something… it wasn’t the barback. It was the very nice-looking lady next to me in the sleeveless blouse…

    4. Tin Cormorant*

      I actually get sweatier in sleeveless things, because direct skin to skin contact doesn’t offer any absorption. It’s the same reason I can’t sleep in shorts in the summer. I’d much rather wear something with short sleeves. Cold shoulder style makes short sleeves worse because then I’ve got direct sunlight on my skin in one of my worst sunburn areas, and there’s no point in wearing such shirts indoors either because everybody turns the AC up to the point where my toes start to go numb.

      1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        I personally can’t wear anything with sleeves at all when it’s hot, no matter how breathable and lightweight. Peri-menopause has borked up my heating/cooling system way too much for that. I probably have 40 plain black ribbed tank tops due to this.
        I don’t work anymore due to disability, but there is no way I’d be able to dress appropriately for anything but the most casual environments because of this. I’d be soaked through in minutes from the fountains of sweat.

    5. Temperance*

      Same. Especially the long-sleeved kind; it just seems like a great way to get weird tan lines.

    6. Tangerina*

      Cold shoulder = a bit more breathability without showing off those bingo wings. (But I am tired of EVERYTHING having a CS sleeve).

    7. OPJustTryingtoStayCool*

      But what if you’re hot AND insecure about your upper arms?! Haha, that’s my case and is the only reason I mess with cold shoulder tops. :)

      Thanks for the sympathy. It’s so appreciated! I think I’ll implement changing at work or, at the very least, wearing tank tops/spaghetti strap dresses/shirts on the way in and throwing a cardigan on once I’m in the office. It should help save me a little!

    8. tusky*

      I think, like most clothes, the design is not purely (or even mostly) about function. How boring the world would be otherwise!

      1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        A world full of strictly utilitarian clothes would be my absolute worst nightmare.

    9. A Girl Has No Name*

      I like cold shoulder tops…to an extent…because I hate my upper arms but still want to be “summery”. The shoulder cutouts let me expose some skin and let some breeze in without my having to show off my upper arms…

  12. Exhausted Trope*

    I’m in the hotter-n-hell Phoenix area and more sympathetic I could not be. I rarely wear skirts or dresses to work but when I do, I put on a Spanx-like garment to prevent chafing. But I have heard of a product called Bandelettes I may try. They offer zero support but I’m told they stop the rubbing and are not noticeable.
    I agree that your coworker was rude calling you out on the shorts. Not kind or funny at all.

    1. Oxford Comma*

      Frankly I would rather wrestle myself into a strapless bra (which is misery making) than to wear a cold shoulder top. I hate them. So much. “it…it…it… flames… flames, on the sides of my face, breathing…breathless…heaping breaths… heaping…”

      In short, not a fan.

      1. SinSA*

        I just came here to say THANK YOU for the Clue reference. (also not a fan of cold shoulder tops!)

        1. Radio Girl*

          They just look sloppy. To me, sleeveless looks tidier, somehow.

          The pencil skirt or skort at the link upthread, or even linen trousers would look ok with a sleeveless top in hot weather. Most people in the Upper Midwest keep a lightweight sweater or jacket in the office to grab for a more formal meeting, or if the AC gets too cold.

          I’m really starting to like slender-cut Capri pants, too, with a lightweight tunic.

  13. Rey*

    As a member of the chub rub club, I stand with you (in my under-skirt shorts). You are not alone. (Your coworker might have perceived her comment to be helpful so that you could fix the issue, but I understand your side of things that pointing it out like that causes unnecessary embarrassment over something that is totally normal and is less helpful than intended.)

        1. Drago Cucina*

          They help my end of day laziness. When I go home I’m half dressed to finish my walking. Put my tunes on, phone in pocket…..

          1. Anne of Green Gables*

            Oh my goodness, they have pockets! These would make the problem worse for me, I would always be flashing my shorts to people because I would use the pockets!

            OP, it is absolutely normal to wear some sort of shorts under skirts and dresses. Not sure what was up with your coworker, but keep on with whatever you need underneath!

          2. LizB*

            That’s brilliant! I’m starting a new job and trying to figure out my exercise routine around my new commute, and this may have just made my life a whole lot easier…

      1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        I Love that high waist! Those would be perfect for me, if only they were a cotton/spandex blend.
        I can find good quality, sturdy, fully opaque leggings that are at least 90% cotton/10% spandex at places like Ross & Marshall’s, but I just CANNOT seem to find the same in bike shorts *anywhere*.

  14. Higher Ed Database Dork*

    Wear the bike shorts! Thigh rubbing in the heat is the worst! Ignore your coworker’s comment – you were going uphill and sometimes the occasional glimpse of base layers is inevitable. If your skirt/dress was so short they were showing all the time, that’s a different matter, but I highly doubt it.

    I used to work at a university that was on a very hilly space, and it’s in Texas, so I know your plight. The dress code leaned more business formal, so cold-shoulder tops, sleeveless tops, flippy sandals, etc, were no-go. I got through the hot months by doing the following:
    – keep a small bag that contains comfy walking shoes, wipes and/or a towel to mop up sweat
    – wear comfy shoes for the walk to the building then swap out
    – invest in some good linen or linen/cotton blend shirts
    – invest in some base layers that are cooling/sweat wicking
    – wear the sleeveless tops during the walk and throw on a cardigan or button-up when inside
    – if you have long hair, pin it up loosely with a clip so your neck/head doesn’t get too hot and then take it down (unless you are wearing it up that day)

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      Cotton and athletic fabrics will be your friends. (I’m personally not a fan of linen for the ironing, but linen breathes very well.) Avoid polyester & rayon – you might as well wrap yourself in Suran Wrap. If you cannot find 100% cotton clothing that are business enough, aim for clothing that is 70% or more cotton. Good luck!

      1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

        Yeah, with linen you definitely need to be okay with that rumpled look, unless you get some kind of a linen blend that won’t wrinkle as easily. If the office is more formal, 100% linen might not be a good choice. Heavier linen tends to be more wrinkle resistant, so men’s linen button-downs are usually a heavier, stiffer linen, whereas women’s linen shirts will usually be tissue-weight and just look TERRIBLE (and see-through). I’ve worn men’s linen button-downs before and they held up well.

        I’ve found 100% rayon to be light and cool and breathable, but the trick is finding 100% rayon – the vast majority of the time, they’ve thrown a bit of spandex or polyester into it and it just hoses it up (not to mention it loses the nice drape of 100% rayon in favor of stretch).

        1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          Was going to say the same thing about rayon! It’s the only synthetic fabric I can wear without sweating, because it’s made from cellulose, a natural plant fiber, rather than plastic like nylon or polyester (the EVIL fabric!) But woven is cooler than knit, and any synthetic blended in will just bork it up.
          And I don’t know what it is about modern rayon knit, but it’s the WORST for quality & long wear. I have tons of vintage & antique rayon dresses, everything from the 30s-90s, and it’s only really recently that this hot, rough, easily pilled rayon has come into wide use.

  15. KatieKate*

    Does anyone know how to balance summer wear and heavy air conditioning? It’s 92 F outside and 62 F inside. I use public transit so I have to dress for both and I am going MAD.

    1. KatieKate*

      That is to say–I am already wearing a fleece jacket and long pants (summer weight.)

      1. Future Homesteader*

        Cardigans, keeping a shawl at your desk (if that’s an acceptable option), wearing sandals on the commute and then changing into closed-toed shoes at work (which I also keep at my desk). And seriously, sometimes you just have to turn on the space heater in the summer. It’s flipping ridiculous, but it’s not your fault.

        1. SoSo*

          I keep an electric heating pad in my drawer for this very reason. It’s sweltering outside, but I always carry a jacket to layer up and put on as soon as I get in to the building. And on the days where I’m still cold, I turn the heating pad on high and place it on my lap or behind my back to get warmed up. It works like a charm and it’s great for cramps if you’re having a rough period!

      1. OhNo*

        Yeah, that’s all I can think of. I leave a cardigan or two in my office all summer, because I just know I’m going to be freezing under the A/C all day.

        Other than that, maybe layers? One of my coworkers walks to work in shorts and pulls a pair of dress pants on over the top when she gets here, so something like that may be an option.

    2. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      Office cardigan! I keep one up here that goes with everything so I don’t have to remember to bring anything with me.

    3. Det. Charles Boyle*

      Small space heater for under your desk. Sadly. I have one b/c I’m freezing in my office, but I wish I didn’t have to do it. But if I don’t, I can’t even move my fingers to type because I’m frozen.

    4. Half-Caf Latte*

      OMG Yes. I’m headed to a conference … in Florida. In August. I’m on the hunt for clothes that will pack well, look professional enough for conference but also transition to happy hour/dinner/after conference activities, and that I can layer a cardigan/blazer over. Also I’m busty and 5’2″. Should be a piece of cake.

      1. NotMyRealName*

        I’m just glad that the conference I was at in San Juan was pretty casual. Everyone was pretty layered up in the conference rooms but t-shirts and shorts or jeans for wandering the streets.

    5. BF50*

      I have a collection of slightly casual black and grey blazers and cardigans. I also normally have a one stashed in my desk at work. My problem is that I put them out, but forget to put them on before leaving (because I obviously don’t keep my house at 63 degrees). There was swearing this morning when I got into work and realized my cardigan was laying out on my bed and at some point I took the work one home. I made a point to drive somewhere at lunch and not turn on my AC at first. Nothing like 5 minutes in 120 degree heat to make the 63 degrees inside feel nice.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        There’s a white blazer hanging on my desk chair. That way I can wear a sleeveless dress/top on the way to work, and not freeze in the library.

      2. Michaela Westen*

        You could put your sweater on the door handle or on top of your purse. Someplace where you can’t miss it.

    6. It'sNan*

      I want to work in 62 degree office. Are you hiring?

      Otherwise, I say keep a sweater or shawl or two at work, and a pair or two of closed toe shoes. Cold feet make the rest of you cold.

    7. Positive Reframer*

      I have an extra desk jacket and lap blanket. You could think about adding tights/hose for work but skirting into the office. (I keep extra hose at my desk for this and other reasons, can also be layered under pants), Fingerless gloves or mittens can help a lot to keep your fingers limber enough to type. Hot beverages at work and ice water for the commute. You could wear a tank top/shell and then put a long sleeve button down on when you get close to/at work just make sure its one that doesn’t wrinkle easily then layer on a jacket over. Those are some of my strategies anyway. Someday some office culture guru will come up with the brilliantly efficient office management method to assign office space based on required ambient temperature and we can all be happy.

      My CEO thinks I’m so professional because I’m always wearing blazers in our buisness casual office but really its just survival. Sometimes it takes me halfway through my commute before my skin is warm to the touch again. But hey cryo therapy is apparently a thing now so I guess I should count myself lucky to get it as a perk at work.

    8. cat socks*

      I have a heating pad on my chair and use it year round. Also cardigans and a blanket to cover my legs if I’m feeling really cold. I’ll take breaks to walk outside for a few minutes to warm up.

    9. Essess*

      I keep several dressy shawls in my desk drawer to toss around my shoulders when it gets cold in the office, if I’m not wearing an outfit with a jacket.

    10. Tin Cormorant*

      I feel your pain. Cardigans aren’t anywhere near warm enough for me when I’m sitting motionless at a desk in a sub-70 office. The last time that happened to me, I requested that they turn it up, and when they refused, I very conspicuously sat at my desk with a fluffy winter coat, a cup of hot cocoa, and an electric blanket wrapped around my legs. They didn’t change their minds on the AC, but at least *I* was warm.

    11. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Little white cotton or linen cardigan.

      Should be small enough to be able to shove into a purse or bag, but cuts the chill when you need it.

      I stopped feeling stupid for carrying a cardigan in 90+ degree heat years ago.

    12. MicroManagered*

      I do dresses and tights. The tights can easily come off if it’s warm (bare legs is not taboo in my office) or stay on and keep me warm.

      Not a clothing suggestion, but also getting up from my desk and going outside for a few minutes here and there really helps. I warm up outside for a moment, then come back in and the AC feels tolerable for an hour or so.

    13. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      I have a heated throw blanket I use at my desk – the low setting is perfect for summer! I use it year round, it’s pretty much always too cold in my office no matter the season.

    14. Astor*

      Adding on to everyone else with two other suggestions:

      I highly recommend thinking about a scarf. Depending on your style and how cold you’re getting, you might even want a bigger “pashmina”.

      I tend to find a regular fashion scarf (bigger than a kerchief) most useful for places where it’s not too cold but the air-movement means that having a higher neck on my outfit would make me warmer. These are best to wear looped around your neck in various fashionable options. They pack up really small so they’re easy to carry around. Personally, I like rayon (usually viscose) and/or cotton for breathability and I avoid acrylic for these kinds of scarves. The expensive version of this would be silk and/or linen.

      I tend to find the pashmina style/size most useful for places where it’s cold, I’m already wearing a sweater, and I need another full layer to be comfortable. These can be worn looped around your neck, but I recommend planning for it to work as either a scarf or a shall. You want something that is closer to the material of a light cardigan than that of a winter scarf, and acrylic tends to be a common cheap option that works well for this style. They take up a lot more room to carry with you, but it’s also easier to keep on the back of your chair or otherwise leave at work. If you can afford to go more expensive, you want real pashmina wool or all-cashmere, possibly mixed with silk and/or linen.

      For both of these options, you should be able to find something in the $5-$10 range on sales or in cheaper shops, paying around $25-50 to get the right colour or pattern when you want it and significantly more than that if you want the higher quality fabrics.

      I also recommend thinking about what you’re wearing on your feet. If you wear nice sandals at work, think about wearing something closed toed instead. I’ve found that wool (blend) socks make a huge difference to how warm I feel, and it’s possible to find ones that fit nicely and also ones that are ankle or no-show height. In the low 90s, you might even find that a good pair of thin wool socks don’t really make you hotter (especially because they absorb moisture, keeping your feet dry), but you can otherwise pack them pretty easily to put on at work.

      1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        +1 on the scarf thing!
        I get cold easily, but also get sweaty easily. What keeps me warm while I’m just sitting, will be too warm if I get up & move around. Lightweight scarves are the perfect solution!

        This even worked when I had a business selling at flea markets, and had to set up my stuff at the ass-crack of dawn in cold winter weather.

    15. OhBehave*

      I have a few lightweight cardigans I wear all the time. I got them at Old Navy I think. Different colors too. That helps balance heat with the cold office.

    16. Lynn Whitehat*

      WELL, CRAP. I am in the same boat as Katie, and I already do all these things. Except the space heater. I’m still freezing. I guess it’s time for no shame, dress for the “weather”. Hello, furry hats and scarves in July!

    17. bonkerballs*

      Oh my god, this is totally my life all summer long. The AC at work is out of control. I have several very heavy sweaters I keep at my desk. There are several of us who are freezing all day long, everyone knows when we go into the conference room for a meeting that we all need to bring sweaters in with us and the last person in is always the person stuck sitting right in front of the vent. And I swear to God if our admin assistant (one of the few people who is always warm and tries to lower the temp even more) tries to tell me I need to buy a snuggie or that our ED is cold because she has no body fat one more time, I’m probably going to throttle her.

      1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        I at one time gained an enormous amount of weight as a side effect of (life saving) medicine. I still froze my ass off in the winter.

    1. Dee*

      There are a few brands that have this kind of anti-chafing gel. Personally, I’d rather wear the shorts, but if it’s an issue for you, this is a good option.

    2. I am who I am*

      There are also chafing products that are marketed to runners that work quite well. Go on like a stick of deodorant.

    3. It's 105° here today*

      Seconded. Megababe Thigh Rescue melts in the heat but solidifies quickly, and the packaging doesn’t allow it to melt all over.

    4. meggers*

      I was going to suggest checking that out. I haven’t used that product, but I use their Bust Dust regularly and I LOVE it – it really helps with “swamp boob”.

    5. BeezLouise*

      Came here to recommend this as well! Shorts always made me so much hotter. I can’t do it.

    6. Courageous cat*

      Also Monistat has an anti-chafing cream – makes a great primer for makeup too.

      1. Eloise*

        Yes! Enthusiastic endorsement for the Monistat gel! It can be hard to find sometimes, so I’ve taken to ordering three-packs from Amazon.

  16. Observer*

    Also, if your shorts are as short as the ones in the picture it would seem that your skirt is fairly short, so perhaps you might consider slightly longer skirts. I realize that this might not be practical, but if you are going to be purchasing anyway…

    1. Anononon*

      Strong disagree. Skirts aren’t a static piece of clothing. Unless they’re below knee length, which is much more conservative than necessary, either when sitting or just walking around, thigh length shorts could totally show.

      1. Observer*

        No, the ones in the picture are short enough that you don’t have to go anywhere near as long as you say to avoid shorts showing in most cases. I live in skirts, and I’m around women who wear skirts of all lengths.

    2. sarah*

      This. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wearing thin shorts like these under skirts, but the ones pictured are SHORT. I’m having trouble imagining a work-appropriate skirt where those shorts would regularly be showing. Unless you’re talking about a very rare “my skirt accidentally rode up in a weird way that almost never happens” situation, I think maybe longer skirts would be the best choice here.

      As far as other tips for walks in hot weather, when I did this as part of my commute, I did the following:
      –sleeveless button-down shirts (the ones from Uniqlo are awesome, even for a chestier person which I am) or blouses, paired with a cardigan or light blazer that I would put on at work
      –nicer shoes that got left under my desk, and wearing comfy sandals for the walk

      1. Justme, The OG*

        I have a dress that is below the knee when standing and then mid-thigh when sitting. Please don’t wardrobe shame the OP by saying her skirts are too short.

        1. MicroManagered*

          Same. I can think of two dresses I own that are knee length, but if I were to put my arms straight above my head, they come up to my mid- to high-thigh. Women’s clothes are weird.

    3. Justme, The OG*

      The short length of shorts worn under a skirt or dress is not necessarily indicative of the length of skirt or dress.

      1. SarahKay*

        Agreed. Speaking as someone who used to work in a shop and once gathered up her well-below-knee-length-but-flared-shape uniform skirt along with a rug I was taking to a till-point for a customer, things can go wrong regardless of skirt length.
        That customer almost definitely saw the colour of my knickers, although thankfully he and his wife tactfully headed over to the till ahead of me, giving me a chance to separate rug and skirt with what dignity I had left.

        1. Observer*

          Oh, of course things can happen. And, if that’s what happened to the OP, it really doesn’t matter how long or short the skirt is. But it sounded like the OP was talking about more normal motion.

        2. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          I cannot count the number of times I have squatted down, stepped on my long flowy skirt without noticing, and stood up only to 1. Pull my skirt off and/or 2. Fall over on my arse.

      2. SoSo*

        Exactly. And what those shorts look like online may not be reflective of how they actually fit the OP. I’m 5″ tall with a super short waist and those would easily hit me mid-thigh. I’ve been wearing bike shorts and volleyball shorts underneath my skirts and dresses for the last ten years and it’s VERY easy for your shorts to peek out from underneath the dress hem when sitting, climbing the stairs, or making any type of movement that isn’t standing or walking in a straight line. We should trust the OP that she’s aware if her skirt or dress is of an appropriate length.

        1. Observer*

          Since the OP didn’t actually mention the length of her skirt, it’s kind of hard to claim that I’m disbelieving her. I’m not – I’m pointing out that this is something she should consider. If it doesn’t apply to her, for whatever reason, then obviously my suggestion won’t work. But without more information, this is a reasonable thing to look at.

      3. Observer*

        The length of shorts that can be seen generally is indicative of the length of the skirt. I understand that there are exceptions, but I don’t think it’s so unrelated that it’s not worth considering.

    4. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

      OP mentioned she was walking down a flight of stairs while rude coworker was walking *up* them.

      1. Observer*

        Where does she say that – it’s not in the original letter.

        Of course, if someone is literally looking up your skirt, length isn’t going to make much of a difference. But I was really reacting NOT to the coworker who was rude even without looking up the skirt, but to the fact that the OP says that the shorts are visible when she moves a certain way. If the OP was actually referring to “being above someone on the stairs” then it’s not relevant.

  17. MCL*

    Also work at a university. I totally wear bike shorts under my all of my skirts dresses. I even wore them under my wedding dress. I get terrible chafing. They might sometimes be just a tad visible, but I will avoid the chafe no matter the cost. I think as long as your skirt covers the shorts, you’re good. I have some that just barely cover, so if I move a certain way they’re visible. It doesn’t really bother me. I would be a little annoyed at a co-worker calling it out, though.

  18. SWOinRecovery*

    Another option is to use an anti-cafe stick, like Body Glide. It’s popular for runners but I use it interchangeably with spandex under my work dresses. It’s nice because you lose another layer trapping in heat. I certainly don’t think you need to quit with the spandex. But this options there if you want it!

    1. TootsNYC*

      I want to chime in to recommend these as well!

      Gold Bond makes one; BodyGlide makes several (w/ a pink version “for her” that’s probably scented differently but that at least doesn’t cost more).

      Other brands: ChafeZone, bluerub, Surf Butta, Run Butta, Surface, 2Toms SportShield,

      There are also creams, gels, lotions, sprays (BodyGlide, Slik, TriSlide, Chamois Butt’r, Ruby’s Lube), which might be good if you think rubbing the same stick over that area would get icky.

      Personally, I’ve found the stick version lasts longer. I can go to work and get home before it’s a problem. (But you could keep one in your bag to reapply.)

      I found one several years ago, and it has changed my life.

      1. 5 Leaf Clover*

        Thirding – BodyGlide and the Gold Bond version are my lifesavers. (That said, if OP prefers bike shorts, they should wear them and their coworker should knock it right the heck off).

        1. Oona K*

          I, too, use the “For Her” Body Glide, and it has saved my thighs this summer. I apply it before I leave the house (I use public transportation to get to my job in a non-air conditioned historic building in humid, high 80s/low 90s summer heat), and it lasts until I get home. I keep a mini in my bag just in case, but I haven’t had to use it yet.

          I get being paranoid about your bike shorts peeking out, but honestly, they are a totally normal thing to wear, and in my opinion, do whatever works for you to be your most comfortable in the heat!

  19. gk*

    Can you wear something light on the way in and get changed in the toilet quickly before you head in?

    So maybe you wear shorts and a t-shirt and then run into the toilet and put your professional outfit on? I’d look for material that’s not easy to crease and can be rolled up for storage at the top of your bag so it doesn’t get squished. Keep a nice cardigan and a jacket at your desk.

    Take some wipes and wipe yourself down before you put on your professional attire. Get yourself a nice bottle of frozen water too so you can actively sip as you walk to the office. There’s also this special chafe stick you can buy, runners use it a lot, called Body Glide.

    Then you’re nice and fresh and ready for the day. I’m in Virginia and I know your pain, it happens whether we’re chubby or not!

  20. NW Mossy*

    I lean heavily on dresses during hot weather, and chafing’s an issue for me too. My preferred approach is Body Glide, a deodorant-stick product that reduces friction. It’s marketed towards athletes, but works great for everyday use since it doesn’t smell or leave transfer marks on clothes. Don’t bother with the “For Her” formulation since it’s a horror show of a gendered product (pink packaging; half the size but the same price), but the original blue one is fine. I also use it on my feet to prevent blisters, which is a god-send when you’re breaking in a new pair of sandals.

    I’ve also recently seen lace bands that go around your thighs as a solution for this – they look like thigh-highs without the pantyhose part. I can’t vouch for their effectiveness as I’ve not tried it myself, but might be another option that’s less visible.

    That said, I should probably try the shorts to address the dreaded “backs of thighs stuck to vinyl bus seat” issue I have in summer. Peeling myself off of those is awful!

    1. Ktelzbeth*

      I could do without the pink and blue color coding by gender, but last time I bought Body Glide, men’s and women’s were the same size and price. I made my decision based on ingredients. Maybe the store you were at needs a piece of your mind, because that’s ridiculous.

    2. CM*

      Similarly, I use a Dr. Scholl’s waxy stick thing that’s intended for feet, but it’s perfect for any part that chafes.

  21. Office sweater lady*

    I have a similar issue, outdoor summer commute coupled with freezing air conditioned office and older colleagues who all drive. This is what the “office sweater” and other layers are made for. I leave a long sweater (or blazer) at the office. I put it on when I get cold, take it off before I leave. Also, I always wear bike shorts under skirts and dresses too! No one has ever said anything to me about it, and I think if they are rarely or ever visible, you can chalk it off to a one-off event with your colleague. I also work in an academic environment, and women who dress in clothes that expose the shoulders (cold shoulder, spaghetti strap, etc) always seem like either a. Still a student or b. Was a student as of last year and hasn’t updated to an adult working closet yet.

  22. Suze*

    Keep wearing the bike shorts, chafing is the worst! You can also try Bandelettes, as recommended above, or even Body Glide. Its what long-distance runners use, and it works quite well. It basically looks like deodorant that you rub on your inner thighs, and I’ve found it to be really effective.

  23. Business Cat*

    I also work at a college campus in scorching heat, and can confirm that LW is dressed appropriately for the season and weather. I wear Jockey Slipshorts under my dresses to combat the chub rub, and thus far I’ve only gotten compliments on my outfits and no weird commentaries on my undergarments. Wishing you cool breezes and people who will leave your dress shorts in peace.

  24. LawLady*

    Evian Brumisateur facial spray is my absolute favorite thing in the summer. Is it just overpriced water in an aerosol spray bottle? Yes. Is it also the most refreshing thing imaginable when you’re sweaty and gross and public transit is too packed? Yes.

    It doesn’t move my makeup, and I find that if I give myself a light spray, it really helps me cool down.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I wanted to get some of those but the colors I liked that were available in my size were all super low-cut. :-(

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          But all the model photos show them well under the belly button (except for one or two styles) and I can’t stand low rider/hipster waistlines.

          1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            The ones that come right directly under the belly button? Would hit me in the same spot as the super low cut ones they show. The ones that go *over* the navel would hit me under it.
            I feel your pain.

  25. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    The cold shoulder discussion is so interesting to me, at least in part because there’s such a huge variation in what exactly “cold shoulder” describes. I’ve got a “cold shoulder” blouse that has one thin strip cut out of each upper arm, so it’s essentially a tiny sleeve window — and then on the far other side, I’ve got a top that’s basically off-the-shoulder entirely but has spaghetti straps helping it stay up.

    For the record, I think that for general business casual purposes, “thin strip cutout” cold shoulder is pretty acceptable, but “off-the-shoulder with bonus spaghetti straps” is not.

    1. NW Mossy*

      Thank you for this, because your analysis finally articulates exactly why I’ve resisted them in general. I can’t do spaghetti straps at all because my shoulders are wide and muscle-y, but by the time you get more towards “sleeve windows,” at that point, I’m wearing enough of a sleeve that I want the warmth/coverage of an actual sleeve, not weird vent holes.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Ah yeah, and if you’re in the market to de-emphasize your shoulders, they’re the worst thing ever.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        I think you ought to show off your muscle-y shoulders, but that’s just me, and I can respect your clothing choice. : )

        1. NW Mossy*

          Awww, thanks! It mostly just looks disproportionate, like I’m trying to wear a 7-year-old’s top. My clothes need to have a bit more meat to them to match the fact that I do too! A racerback tank and leggings, though, is totally my non-work jam in the summer.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yeah, I wish we’d stuck to the definition of “cold shoulder” from when these came out the first time – a shoulder window, not an off-the-shoulder top with teeny tiny straps.

      1. ElspethGC*

        Personally, I quite like the sleeve-with-strap look, although I think it needs to be labelled differently to shoulder-cutout tops. I like the look of completely off-the-shoulder tops and dresses, but I don’t have enough going on up top to hold it up (or to feel comfortable that it’ll hold up – I don’t do strapless), so teeny tiny straps to hold everything up but give a similar effect work for me.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I think those can be cute, but I’d prefer they have their own name. If I’m searching for “cold shoulder” on a website, I’m looking for shoulder windows, since that was the original style, back in olden times. You kids get off my lawn.

    3. Libby*

      Yes, thank you. I think a lot of cold shoulder designs are really nice. Just like any style, some not so much. Some are appropriate for work, some aren’t. They also don’t need to be “practical.”

      1. LCL*

        Hey, I thought of a practical use for cold shoulder tops! They could allow you do discreetly adjust your bra strap.

  26. Cristina in England*

    Thigh rub club!

    I used to worry that my black and nude bike shorts (American Apparel not Spanx) looked like Spanx, which to me is an undergarment and I don’t want any of my undergarments to be seen.

    So I bought hot pink bike shorts. Hot pink looks like it is meant to be seen!

    1. Sunshine*

      I like that idea. I wish I could get some with my favorite cartoon and movie characters on them.

  27. SomeLibrarian*

    As a fellow chubby girl who wears skirts and gets hot walking from her car…wear the shorts! If anyone sees them/comments, don’t worry about it.

  28. Spider*

    I work on a college campus myself and have no official dress code, but personally, I think cold-shoulder tops/dresses look kinda tacky and unprofessional (as in “found in the juniors section of a clothing store”), and wearing them on a college campus would make one look like a student and not an employee.

    For office-wear, I’m a fan of sleeveless tops with shoulder areas that cover the whole shoulder (link to an example in my username) — they’re still cool and airy, but look a little more formal than a shoulder-baring tank. And of course you can always throw a very light cardigan over them for air-conditioned offices.

    1. Dr. Doll*

      Whew, wearing a TOP on my campus brands you as a staff/faculty member. I really could not believe my eyes when I started seeing female students wearing fancy bralettes without shirts and calling it good.

      And for the love of Dog, make sure your pants cover your entire butt. I sooooo do not want to see your actual bottom in my lab.

  29. Bend & Snap*

    Putting in a vote for Jockey skimmies.
    They’re spanx like without the compression and they’re super lightweight ie not hot

    1. sam*

      I’ve recommended these exact items on this site before, and was going to again, but you beat me to it. They are my lifesaver in the summertime. At this point I own like, a gazillion pairs (bought over many years). I don’t generally wear skirts that are so form-fitting that I need the discomfort of spanx, but I definitely need the anti-chafing properties!

    2. brightstar*

      I will second this recommendation. Once I tried them I went from rarely wearing skirts/dresses to wearing them at least a couple of times a week.

      I live in Louisiana, but I don’t walk to work. Breathable fabrics are your friend, as are sleeveless shirts and cotton cardigans to put on once you get inside. Sometimes you can even find short sleeved cardigans, though I don’t see those too often.

      I personally hate cold-shouldered tops, but they’re a trend right now and are likely to stay around for a while.

    3. cat socks*

      Love the Jockey skimmies. I wear dresses all the time in the summer and they are a staple for me.

    4. Ann O'Nemity*

      Same. A girlfriend introduced me years ago when we used to go dancing in short dresses. No risk of accidentally flashing people, and no chafing either. Skimmies are cheap, effective, comfortable, breathable, and invisible.

  30. Anony*

    I used to get yapped at for going around in an undershirt at work. The place was heated to something like 82 degrees in winter, so I pretty much had to take off my button-down shirt to avoid getting heatstroke. They set the thermostat so high because people who liked to dress inappropriately for winter complained loudly about being cold.

    KatieKate – I feel your pain too. I used to go to Houston on business frequently, and every public building down there is air-conditioned to something like 62. At least in the Northeast, you can dress for hot weather, but in TX, wearing hot-weather clothes will make you freeze once you’re indoors.

  31. Engineer Girl*

    I’m a huge fan of flesh tone undies, top and bottom.

    You might want to check out skimmies in your quest to prevent chin rub.

    I also found that a dense print camouflages see through, especially if it is a darker color. Solids (especially lighter colors) expose undies more.

    I also like dark linens. Linen pants, linen cardigans, etc. I’ve been pretty happy with linens from Old Navy, Gap, and Uniqlo.

    1. epi*

      I love Uniqlo. I think most of my summer wardrobe is from Uniqlo and Old Navy. They both tend to have multiple colors of their best warm weather stuff.

      Uniqlo linen is nice and the price is grad student approved. Their Airism under layers are IMO not cool enough to wear if you would otherwise wear nothing underneath, but definitely worth the money for wearing under anything sheer where you would have to wear *something*. Their Dry Stretch skirts are great, reasonable cool and won’t crease– they don’t even need to be ironed.

      Both Old Navy and Uniqlo have some nice rayon tops as well, ranging from sleeveless to long sleeved. I find rayon really pleasant in the summer– it’s somewhere between a natural and a man-made fiber since it is made from cellulose. It’s very breezy and has a nice drape.

      Really the only drawback of both fabrics is that they wrinkle. Moderate wrinkling on linen looks intentional, rayon not so much. IME they will wrinkle worse in the back and can just be covered up with an office cardigan. Or they both will look nicer if carefully rolled in your bag rather than worn for the hottest part of your commute, for people who prefer to just wear a separate commuting outfit.

  32. Rusty Shackelford*

    I like the slip shorts/bike shorts that have lace trim, because (to me) they look like they’re meant to be seen. Kind of like getting a brief glimpse of a cami rather than a bra, you know? So if your shorts really look like like those in the link (which are super cute and I wish I could find them in women’s sizes), your coworker is not only rude, but kinda nuts, IMHO.

    1. J.*

      Not exactly the same (the lace is the same color as the short rather than contrast), but I have a few pairs of the ones in the link in different colors. They’re super soft, lightweight, and comfortable, and they go up to a women’s size 4X.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I find this interpretation puzzling! To me, the lace trim makes them look more like undergarments. When I was a kid/teenager & would have to wear slips or old-fashioned camisoles, they had lace trim. As an adult, I’ve had the more meant-to-be-seen camis that you might wear under a v-neck sweater, but I still felt like I was showing off my underwear. I rather have a plainly trimmed bike short or cami if I’m wearing something under my clothes.

      1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        To me they are prettier, and therefore meant to be seen.

        I would LOVE to find some bike shorts like those in the link to wear under skirts short enough for them to show! Alas, those don’t come in my size (I’d need a large) and don’t look like a cotton/spandex blend, which I’d prefer.

  33. Mr. Cajun2core*

    You didn’t mention this but if the problem is sweating (I mean excessive sweating and sweating when you should not) you should look into medications (Robinul) for this. It works wonders. I highly recommend it and it does even seem to help with being hot (though I think that may be somewhat psychological but real due to not sweating as much).

    Side effects are dry mouth which can lead to increased cavities (found that out the hard way).

  34. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer*

    I just invested in a bunch of light-weight cardigans (thank you ThredUp!) because I walk to work. Tumbler full of ice water or iced cold brew coffee + sleeveless top on the way there, then throw on my cardigan when I arrive (…or after I stop sweating… it’s pretty well-known in the office that I walk to work so no one is judging me, at least not out loud).

  35. Silicon Valley Girl*

    I wear similar shorts under skirts in hot weather, & if someone else occasionally sees them, whoa, they are far too close to me, so that’s them being nosey!

    Not a fan of cold-shoulder tops. But sleeveless tops or even camis are great, & you can slip a cardigan or light jacket over if you need to look more professional (last-minute meeting w/bigwigs; it happens).

    Also, natural fibers are key in summer, that helps your skin breathe & keeps you cooler. Cotton, linen, bamboo, preferably. Silk retains heat. Some high-tech synthetics can be OK, but standard-issue polyester traps sweat.

    1. No Mas Pantalones*

      I hate cold shoulder tops. Haaaaaate. I have tattoos on my shoulders that need covering for work, so this probably fuels the hate, I just don’t see why they cut the damn shoulders out to begin with.

  36. Petty Editor*

    As one chubby girl to another, I really like Thigh Society’s moisture wicking slip shorts, they arent shapewear but they don’t ride up, they don’t show panty lines, they have extra material to prevent Chub Rub, and they are pretty comfortable.

  37. anonagain*

    I don’t have advice on the looking professional part of this, but on the staying cool part: would a cooling product of some kind help during your walk to the car? I have a cooling scarf and a cooling vest, but I know there are other options. I prefer the kind with ice packs to the kind that you soak in water.

    They’re kind of goofy looking, but for staying cool while walking through a parking lot, I think it’s worth it. If you have a long commute you could put the ice packs in a cooler or insulated bag on your way to work in the morning and then put them in the freezer at work (if that’s an option) so they are ready for you to walk back to your car in the afternoon.

    1. Hibiscus*

      I was going to suggest a cooling scarf too! I have one of the wet and wear ones that I would use to lower my body temperature so I could fall asleep before my a/c situation improved.

    2. No Mas Pantalones*

      Also, don’t underestimate the folding hand fan. I buy them by the dozen on Amazon. I always carry extras because inevitably I will come across another woman who’s always freaking hot (menopause is a bitch, y’all) and I give one to her.

    3. Jaid_Diah*

      I have the O2Cool misting fan, which I fill with ice water. Ahhhhh.

      I also have the JellyBeadz cooling cap, which looks like bandana. I soak that in ice water and it stays nice and cold for maybe an hour.

      I use these for when I go home, because I don’t have to worry about make-up or hairdo then.

    1. mark132*

      I were a golf polo shirt in the heat. They look reasonably professional, and a very light weight.

      (I will admit to being a bit jealous that the females in my office can wear skirts etc in the heat, and I’m stuck with pants.)

      1. Where’s my coffee?*

        I’ve always thought this was unfair for guys. I wouldn’t see anything wrong with a guy wearing nicer style shorts in the summer, but it definitely wouldn’t fly at my company.

        1. Temperance*

          Shorts are less dressy/formal than skirts, though. I’m all for dudes wearing skirts and dresses (seriously), but shorts should be available for everyone or no one.

          1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            I’m also seriously for men wearing skirts & dresses. There is no reason other than sexism why it’s prohibited- and they look really good in them!

        1. mark132*

          I know what would happen, I would have a day of breezy comfort ;-)

          I actually wonder what would happen. Based on the latest dress code at my employer (that I could find) knee length skirts are acceptable attire, and the dress code does not contain any gender specific language. So from that point of view it wouldn’t be a problem. I obviously would get questions/comments from long term coworkers. It would be interesting, but I’m way too chicken.

          1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            When I was a kid, I remember watching an episode of (I *think*) That’s Incredible! that featured a guy who made his own wardrobe of business skirts for works. They matched his suit jackets, and looked like a regular woman’s slim, somewhat a-line suit skirt, but longer.
            I thought it was heckin’ BRILLIANT.
            I have been fascinated/obsessed with clothing & textiles my entire life, and have devoured anything about the history of same since I could read. And having done so, I already knew that there wasn’t really any reason that pants are coded male other than a fluke of male fashion long, long ago (like the Byzantine or Early Medieval era…don’t feel like looking up the exact time period right now.)

        2. Michaela Westen*

          Wear some of those long flowing outfits that men from Africa, India and the middle east wear. :)

          1. Michaela Westen*

            They seem to have wide flowy pants under a tunic – or the style called harem pants when it’s women’s – I’ve heard those are very comfortable!

      2. OyVey*

        Depending on your industry, you might be able to make a case for kilts (look for options minus cargo pockets!) as a more business-y option than shorts

        1. Mr. Cajun2core*

          If I were of Scottish descent, I would give this a try. However, I don’t think this would fly most places. Leg hair. If men can’t wear sleeveless tops due to underarm hair, I doubt that they could get away with wearing kilts/skirts due to leg hair. :-(

  38. Sara (A Lurker)*

    There is not a thing wrong or unprofessional about wearing shorts under skirts or dresses. I like Jockey slipshorts for this purpose. They are stretchy and breathable and you could probably make the hem sit higher up on your leg if you wear a shorter skirt.

    While I wore a lot of skirts and dresses with slipshorts at my previous job, my current university job has pretty informal dress code. This summer I’ve been most comfortable in capri or cropped pants that hit below the knee, and nice sandals that breathe but don’t show my toes. I’m on the higher end of straight sizes, but I’ve found affordable work-appropriate capris at Macy’s and Marshall’s. The sandals are usually Rockport and not cheap unless you find them on sale, but they are super cute and comfortable for walking in the hot city.

  39. Midlife Tattoos*

    I always wear a pair of thin cotton shorts under skirts/dresses. Not only does this stop chub rub, it’s also a way to ensure nobody sees your Hello Kitty underpants if there is an errant blast of wind. Or, as in my case, the outdoor escalator decided to bite down on and eat my maxi skirt. Thankfully a bystander ran over and helped me rip my skirt out of the metal teeth, otherwise I would have been standing on a main street in my drawers.

    1. anonagain*

      That is really really frightening. I am glad someone stopped to help and that you weren’t injured!

  40. Higher ed*

    I also work on campus. NO to cold-shoulder tops. Even on campus, they aren’t professional for a work environment.

    You’re on the right track with wearing dresses, and your coworker was unnecessarily rude. I would double-check the skirt length, though. (Man, I’m sounding like all sorts of fun today, aren’t I?) My best tip for surviving hot walks across campus is to carry layers with you. Sleeveless for walking around, cardis/blazers for inside. Linen dress pants are great. I also wear super-thin camis under most tops and dresses. It seems like it would be too warm, but that inner layer absorbs whatever moisture is going on and keeps my dressy outer layers looking much nicer/crisper.

    I like the Jockey skimmies/slipshorts that a few posters above mentioned. I have the nude/flesh colored ones.

    1. Observer*

      I have to agree that the coworker was rude. There just are not too many situations where that commenting on someone’s shorts is appropriate, and this didn’t sound like one of them.

      1. No Mas Pantalones*

        It kinda makes me wish OP would wear those ruffled Victorian shorts. It seems Amazon has those too (they have everything!), should OP want to get snarky with the Spanks snarker.

        1. IDon’tKnowWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          Ah, sissy pants for square dancing! I used to have SO MANY PAIRS, and not only wore them under shirt skirts/dresses, but as cute summer shorts as well.

          And I learned about them because I joined the square dancing club at my school in 8th grade! Along with my petticoats, they eventually ended up as part of my regular wardrobe.

  41. anonykins*

    If you’re feeling self-conscious about your shorts (which, I wish you didn’t! But sometimes an unkind or rude comment can ruin something for me :( ), I also used to wear shorts/spanx under my skirts but recently discovered the joy of Body Glide. LOVE.

  42. It'sNan*

    If you want to skip the Spanx or a second layer at all, try Body Glide. Amazon or any running store will have it. It looks like deodorant, but prevents chafing. The regular stuff has no smell, the women’s stuff stinks like baby powder. One thing of it lasts quite a long time. As runner, a lady person, a fluffy person, and a sweater (not the wool kind :)), I can tell you it helps big time.

    1. No Mas Pantalones*

      I’m jealous of people who can use Body Glide and nothing else. I can sweat that stuff off in a matter of minutes.

      1. chi type*

        You might try just rubbing your regular old stick of deodorant on your thighs. It’s designed to resist being sweated off. That’s what I do when I (rarely) wear a skirt.

        1. No Mas Pantalones*

          I’ve done that too. Nope. I’m a sweaty sweating thing that sweats a lot with all of the sweat, I guess. That’s fine, the slipshorts do the job well.

  43. ec*

    Wear regular shorts/summer clothes on your commute to the office — change into professional clothes when you get into the building! A lot of people who work at my place do that all year round (we are in a major city, so many walk or ride a bike).

    1. Celeste*

      Yes, this is really the easiest way to handle killer heat. It helps if you can get there earlier to have time to cool down and change clothes.

  44. Lemon Sherbet*

    Old Navy’s Bermuda-length bike shorts are the ONLY things I can wear to prevent chub rub. I need full coverage from the tippy tops of my thighs down to about three inches above my knees, so Bandalettes won’t cut it. I’ve tried the Skimmies from Jockey’s, but because my legs are short, they’d always hit at a “peak” and then roll on up to be in a “valley”. I do not care who sees my black/gray bike shorts, though I will say I am loving the midi-length skirt trend this year because that length means my shorts aren’t on display.

  45. annejumps*

    It’s not a dress question per se, but I walk from the transit station to work in Atlanta, and I’ve found that a dusting of Lush’s Silky Underwear powder absorbs sweat really well and leaves a nice jasmine scent. I’m told it helps prevent thigh rub as well.

    1. annejumps*

      Oh, and I switched to one of those clinical strength deodorants you apply at night. Made a world of difference. I barely even think about underarm sweat anymore.

  46. Aphrodite*

    Thigh rub is the worst! It hurts so much. I use just plain black spanex shorts when I have to but to help I have been known to put Vaseline on my thighs before pulling on the shorts. I really appreciate the mentions and links to the products especially for it, though. Thanks! I am so glad I am not alone.

  47. MK*

    I am truly perplexed by the letter and the comments above. I find shorts too warm for anytime later than late spring, particularly tight ones. Wearing them under a skirt in the summertime would make me faint from the heat.

    In any case, I think the coworker was surprised into saying this because most things worn under clothes usually qualify as underwear; and, frankly, the ones in the link look like women’s boxer shorts to me, not biker shorts or anything meant to be seen.

    If the OP wants to avoid this, longer skirts is the answer; and if it’s appropriate to wear fuller designs in her workplace, I would go with those, they are not currently in fashion, I think, but they are much cooler (and more comfortable) than pencil or straight skirts.

    1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Counterintuitively, I feel less hot when wearing bike shorts of whatever brand under my dresses and skirts. Chafing aside, I find that my legs get so sweaty without them that I just feel gross. But the ones I have also serve to wick the sweat away and help it evaporate, so I actually feel cooler and dryer.

      1. Birch*

        Yeah, this. It’s about the layer of fabric between skin-to-skin (thigh-to-thigh) contact. My partner teases me about my layers but tbh I’m way more cool and comfy when my skin is not touching itself and getting all sticky and chafing.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I am truly perplexed by the letter and the comments above. I find shorts too warm for anytime later than late spring, particularly tight ones. Wearing them under a skirt in the summertime would make me faint from the heat.

      You’d think so, but I’ve discovered (to my delighted surprise) that even for my heat-intolerant self, a knee-length skirt with shorts underneath is cooler than a longer skirt.

    3. J.*

      I wear lightweight boxer briefs (Fruit of the Loom are my current faves) and they’re not nearly as heavy as I think you’re imagining when you think of “shorts” because they’re specifically designed to be worn under something else.

    4. EddieSherbert*

      Personally, I’m thinking of skirt+shorts instead of long pants.

      In my case, I can wear jeans to work (and would look out of place if I was wearing nice dress pants), and I only like skinny jeans, sooooo it’s the skirt+shorts versus LONG, SKIN-TIGHT JEANS. Which can get disgustingly hot really quick!

  48. Sunshine*

    I read a plus-size fashion blog by Alexa Webb and she has a lot of trendy professional outfits for summer (

    I see nothing wrong with the shorts you wear under skirts, in fact, I’m thinking of buying some too! The wind has not been my friend.

  49. QualitativeOverQuantitative*

    I would highly recommend The Work Edit blog for professional clothing ideas. As for chub rub, I use Monistat anti-chafing and it works really well. I also want to try Mega Babe anti-chafing.

  50. Gingerblue*

    Another on-campus, long-walk-haver here! Would an umbrella or summer parasol help on the way to and from your car?

    (I love all of these recommendations for lightweight shorts for under skirts, and I’m going to try some. Thank you, OP, for making me aware they exist!)

    1. Allotropic*

      I was thinking this, too! It’s unfortunate that parasols/umbrellas aren’t A Thing in the US, but the extra shade really does make longer walks under the sun a lot more bearable.

      1. Alternative Person*

        One of the things I like about living in Japan is that parasols are normal. I couldn’t be without mine in summer.

  51. lb*

    If you wear button-downs, one place to look for them is REI or similar outdoor stores. Hiking shirts are often made of light, moisture-wicking fabric that are great at hiding sweat stains. They can be pretty pricey but once you try some on and find out what size/brands you like, you can often find great deals.

    Otherwise, I sympathize with you and your coworker’s comment was very rude! I always wear slipshorts under skirts. I don’t think anyone’s ever commented before. Carry forth wearing whatever makes you comfortable.

  52. MarsupialHop*

    Tank tops or sleeveless shells partnered with a thin knit cardigan, or light jacket.
    For super sunny days, consider a paper parasol for your walks – instant shade.

      1. Avalon Angel*

        I have a lot of goth friends who would tell you they never went out of style!

  53. Anonymousaurus Rex*

    I bike to work and tend to wear colorful shorts similar to the ones you cited under my work skirts. I unapologetically hike up my skirt/dress when I hop on my bike. Today I have a very subdued sheath dress (and blazer for indoors) with hot pink moisture wicking shorts underneath. I think wearing shorts under skirts makes sense most of the time. I also have one black pencil skirt with a way too high slit in the back that looks perfectly decent when paired with matching black shorts but that I would think shows much too much leg without. I think your colleague is nuts.

  54. Gertrude*

    I totally get this! I keep deodorant, light body spray, and makeup wipes at my desk for when I arrive/leave just in case. I also don’t wear makeup into work. If I have a client meeting I’ll put some on before I leave. I also change from my work clothes into a breezy outfit when I leave. I have a fan at my desk and constantly have ice water. I’ve also been known to bust out an umbrella while walking (but I have incredibly pale sensitive skin and sunburn within a few minutes of being outside). There’s also those towels that you can get wet and put around your neck that help keep you cool. I also used to have one of those fan spray bottles for summers in Texas. I wear my hair up as much as possible, and like other readers have mentioned, try to wear as few layers as possible and take off what I can when I walk (if I’m not changing).

  55. Cooling Towels on Amazon*

    What about those water-activated cool towels? (link in name) You can wet it before you leave the office and keep it around your neck on your walk back to your car. I imagine your end of day walk is a lot hotter than the morning one, so this might be an option.

  56. Girl friday*

    I would laugh, and say, “Oh, you’re serious?!?” Then, “Please don’t give my lingerie a second thought.” Then a long pause, and then, “but how kind of you!” Only if she’s a really nice person do you add that last part! She shouldn’t be looking anyway. As far as handling the hot weather goes, it sounds like you’re doing the right thing. Astroglide is awesome, btw. That’s what I would use if I had that problem.

  57. CatCat*

    For the walk to the car part, you don’t need to look professional to walk to your car. If it’s really bad out, consider changing your clothes into after-work casual clothes.

    I bike commute and look like a hot unprofessional mess when I get to work, but I just change as soon as I get in. When leaving, I’m back into my bike appropriate clothing. NBD.

  58. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins*

    I always wear compression shorts under any skirt/dress, so I say rock on with your bad self. Chafing hurts.

    Also, I am guilty of the odd cold-shoulder top in the office, but I also am very cautious to make sure that said shirt does not expose any of my bra.

  59. Bones*

    I’m a lady with crazy broad shoulders so cold-shoulder tops just look bad on me.

    1. Yettie*

      I’m not a fan of them on anyone no matter their shape. I think they are unprofessional and look more like a going out top than a workwear outfit.

  60. Positive Reframer*

    One other thought, if you are walking in the sun keep in mind that uncovered does not mean cooler. It is amazing how much cooler you can be with a light cotton shirt (I have some cotton gauze ones that are 3/4 length button up) mainly to avoid sunburn but keeping the rays off my skin helps keep a tad bit cooler. Probably not as applicable if you are out in the early morning but worth keeping in mind.

  61. Caryn Z*

    It’s very common to wear a bike type short under a skirt, or those bands that help with chafing. So your coworker needs to shut it. That was rude!

  62. Miss V*

    Nothing helpful to add other than to say I agree complete with Alison about the cold shoulder tops. I HATE THEM. And not just for the office, in general.

    Either it’s cold enough to warrant a long sleeve or it’s not.

  63. Nea*

    I don’t see them mentioned on the thread yet, but for women of substance Woman Within makes a mostly cotton bike short. My dresses don’t catch on them, and more importantly – they’re long enough that they don’t ride up!

    The only downside is that a pale grey is the lightest color they make. No plain white or pale peach/pink/brown. Fortunately, many of my dresses are dark colors.

    Yes, they flash a bit if I wear them with an above-knee skirt, but I would have WORDS with anyone who mentioned looking up my skirt.

    Cold shoulders are of the devil. More than that, they’re a fad, so anything you buy with a cold shoulder this year will have to be replaced no later than 2020, possibly 2019. So if OP sees a cold shoulder blouse that they love, love, love, okay, get it – but know that it’s going to look dated very, very quickly. (When was the last time you saw a car wash hem?)

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Torrid currently has a white cotton blend bike short available online.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Did they get rid of white? Bummer. I’ve got two pair of WW white legging shorts and I love them to pieces.

  64. The Pink Lady*

    I’m in the UK so you guys in the US might scoff when I say we have a heatwave here at the moment, so this is very topical – it’s been close to 30C every day for two weeks and probably at least two more to come, with humidity, too. And this with (generally) no culture of aircon at home or work, so no way of cooling down after a hot journey. I feel your pain on the chub rub, and I can’t see anything wrong with your shorts – maybe your coworker should be looking at your face rather than your nether regions! I, too, have resorted to shorts under my dresses, but sometimes they’re just too damned hot. On those days I swear by Lanacane Anti-Chafing Gel – it genuinely works and I find I can get away with just applying it in the morning and it lasts all day. In weather like this I thank my lucky starts that I generally work from home, so only have to deal with this a few times a month, and can sit at my desk in spaghetti straps and cotton pj pants, with my hair messily piled up off my neck, without anyone knowing (until they implement a much-vaunted new video calling function).

    1. The Pink Lady*

      I knew some of you would have no sympathy! But honestly, it’s much hotter than usual for here, and our homes and offices just aren’t set up for it; and frankly, if you’re used to something more usual in the way of a British summer, it takes a while to acclimate. It’s hard to sleep when your bedroom is still over 32C after midnight because of all the loft insulation you need for the winter, and you have no aircon. Last night I considered going for a drive in the middle of the night just to cool down in the car aircon!

      1. Cristina in England*

        I am very happy we haven’t yet insulated our loft/attic yet, and a bit wary because it’s happening really soon :-/

      2. WMM*

        We live in an area of the US with cold winters and sometimes harsh summers, so we have a whole house fan. When the evening temps drop (fortunately for us, we don’t live in the areas that are hot around the clock), we can open the windows and turn on the house fan to get some relief. I have no idea if house fans like that are available in the UK, though.

      3. Birch*

        IMO the British lack of decent insulation is making it worse in both winter and the heatwave. Compared to countries that go -20C in the winter, British houses just let in too much humidity and the windows aren’t glazed well. (American from the Midwest living in the UK–I grew up with 35-40C summers and even I think this heatwave is ridiculous! The humidity is the WORST).

        1. Rosemary7391*

          How can you not let humidity in? I mean, you have to let air in, so how does one keep humidity out?

          I’m currently loving my flat’s construction – foot thick stone walls are just the ticket for this weather! (Less so in winter, but that’s as much to do with the high ceiling as the walls).

          1. Birch*

            Well sure, when the doors and windows are open. But at least in my experience of typical housing in the UK, the windows are not double-glazed or maintained well and the walls are not insulated well, and the flats are not designed to circulate air. The way the windows open can trap air too–compare sliding windows or windows that open like doors vs. my windows which open like bus windows, horizontally. They don’t allow air to circulate, so humidity and hot air get trapped inside and make it feel hotter, encourage mold and mildew, etc.

            1. Rosemary7391*

              Interesting. That hasn’t been my experience! Most places I’ve lived have had double glazing, and windows that open properly. Most notable place that didn’t was a college and I’m not sure they could have retrofitted double glazing given the type of building – think it was listed and of course the cost would’ve been horrendous. It’s probably worth noting that there is a lot of variety in age, consequently construction methods and of course maintenance. Poorly looked after buildings are always going to have trouble.

      4. Jaid_Diah*

        You have my sympathy. You guys just don’t have A/C and it must suck sweaty ones…

  65. WMM*

    Two more suggestions for OP’s chub rub, which I also experience: Jockey Slip Shorts are so comfortable, even on hot days. Not as cute as lace trimmed options, but light, stretchy, and comfortable. Also, monistat chafing relief powder gel is a far-better-than-nothing option for when the shorts don’t work for your outfit.

  66. Lindsay Gee*

    We may work at the same place- I’m in the same boat as you! Far parking, up a hill, then across campus. Thankfully the mornings here aren’t crazy hot, but something a friend of mine suggested (if it’s feasible) is to have a different outfit/pants to do the walk in and change before getting into the office. The reason this works for me is that there’s a bathroom outside the elevators on the first floor of my building, so I can just change my outfit then head on up to the third floor where my office is. [This is all assuming that once you get to work, there is AC in the building and you’re not sweating your face off inside also]

  67. Milla*

    Google “thigh bands”. These are amazing. They’re stretchy lace (so, breathable) bands that are worn around the upper thighs to prevent rubbing. They’re prettier and have a lower profile than shorts, won’t fade away like creams or powders, and you won’t get ‘swamp crotch’ like with nylons or spanx.

    For on top, google “dress shield”. This contraption, invented when there was no AC but business clothes were still required, protects shirts and dresses from underarm sweat and keeps it from showing. The full, reusable ones might feel like overkill unless you are overly sweaty in general, but there are disposable, stick-on underarm shields that run in the 100 for $14 range. Stick a pair onto your top before work, then peel them off and toss them in the bathroom once you get there after your treck in (they’re intended for full-day protection, so you’d probably be fine leaving them on, but if you’re paranoid, toss them as soon as feasible). I know they have bra liners for under-boob sweat, but I’ve never tried one.

    On clothes themselves: if you stick to a chair, your skirt is too short for work. I find the name “cold-shoulder” shirt a misnomer, because they make me hotter and result in sunburns. Regular sleeves seem better for staying cool. A moisture-wicking undershirt close to the skin with a breezy top to block the sun works well and is (surprisingly) less hot than just one layer. I also recommend a hat if you wear makeup or have to meet with people within an hour of arriving; it’ll keep your face from getting flushed and sweaty.

    1. Milla*

      Oh, and once, I lived in Kyoto during rainy season, which is basically a stagnant swamp. Think unbearably hot, impossibly humid, and no breeze, ever. The ladies there carry around what looks like little terry cloth/microfiber hand towels, but prettier. These are used to blot one’s face when you get too sweaty. They’re also handy for other things, like if the bathroom has no paper towels.

    2. voluptuousfire*

      I think I used panty liners as a bra liner for underboob sweat. I kept forgetting to remove them from my bras and ended up washing a few. My clothes were covered in white lint. :(

      1. Nea*

        Ah, boob sweat. Let’s just say it’s AMAZING where deodorant gets applied in my body come summer. (Stick deodorant is a serviceable anti-chafe application in a pinch, too.)

  68. Antifashionista*

    Add me to the list of cold shoulder haters. My college campus tends to be a bit more formal, but I’ve seen my boss and the female administrators one level higher sporting cold-shoulder tops, so I turn a blind eye when my reports wear them.

  69. Allison*

    I wear Skimmies to work all the time. If it makes a difference, they don’t have the lace at the bottom and some of them are similar in tone to my skin (though I also wear navy and black to match certain dresses), but I think yours are fine for this purpose. People see mine as I walk up the stairs to the subway all the time – would rather than than my underwear! If you’re finding they peek out during the day, maybe static spray for your skirt? But you’re probably good.

  70. Collarbone High*

    I love the things I learn from this site! I hadn’t heard of Skimmies but these are exactly what I need for some dresses with too-clingy fabric. They don’t hang right without a slip, but it’s basically impossible to buy a half slip anymore and since I’m short, a lot of slips are too long even for knee-length skirts. Thanks!

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I linked 2 stores above that still sell half slips. I totally relate to this. I have a few skirts/dresses that really need a slip to look good I’ve started wearing shapers just to get the skirt to fall right, but they are so hot!

    2. Workerbee*

      Apologies if this was linked already, I still have to expand all the comments as I’m going through this–

      Amazon has “Vanity Fair Women’s Body Foundation Half Slip 11072” with different lengths and in white/neutral/black. There are others from other brands as well (Vassarette, for example). I like these because the of the wide lace waistband. I didn’t want yet another groove worn into me. :)

      I recently got one in neutral so it’s just about invisible under a sheer white broomstick skirt, yet it doesn’t add a full or bulky layer, AND you can’t see through it, huzzah!

    3. SarahKay*

      Probably not useful if you’re in the US, but if you’re ever in the UK (or have a friend there who will buy stuff and ship it to you) then Marks & Spencers still sell half-slips, and in about 5 different lengths. I think their shortest one is 16 inches.

  71. kgulo*

    OP, in addition to shorts, I love a product called BodyGlide for preventing “chub rub.” You can get it at REI, or any outdoor store.

  72. MCMonkeyBean*

    I love under-dress shorts. If they peek out frequently, you may want to either wear longer skirts or shorter shorts. But if it’s just occasionally visible I think that’s fine.

    I don’t know if you could get away with this in your office, but sometimes if I know I’m going to work up a sweat walking outside before I get in the office I will wear something sleeveless and carry a cardigan while I’m outside, then once I’m inside I might wear the cardigan just draped over my shoulders like this for a few minutes:

    Then once I’ve aired out and cooled down I actually put the cardigan on.

  73. HereKittyKitty*

    Just here to stand in solidarity. I live in the Southwest where’s it’s regularly hitting 110 right now and I’m so here for this thread. Luckily my office (and it seems like other offices in this area) have a really really lax dress code (especially in the summer). We all run around in Old Navy shorts and t-shirts or tank top dresses, or else be at risk for death.

  74. Evan*

    I’m a man and I’ve been noticing “cold shoulder tops” for over a year without realizing there was a name for them. I thought they were just a stupid fashion trend, but if they’re actually designed that way to be more breathable, I kind of appreciate them more.

    1. OhBehave*

      I often wonder how guys stay cool when they have to wear long sleeved shirts and/or suits! I feel for you all.

  75. Tangerina*

    Girl, being fat, hot (as in sweaty), and professional is the pits! I dread summer for this very reason. I’m an all-pants kind of girl because every skirt ever looks horrid on me, but at least up top: all hail the tank top and cardigan. I generally hate sleeveless, but let those bingo wings fly when you’re battling the heat on your trek.

  76. Fritz*

    I live in Australia and it’s extremely humid and hot most of the year but the worst in summer with the endless humidity. You could fry an egg on the road. I usually change when I get to work. Just a few minutes in the bathroom with a cold wet towel will cool you down and then you can quickly throw on your work clothes. I love air con.

  77. MuseumChick*

    Late to the game today with not a lot of add but I did want to share a story. Last year I was leaving work to go to they gym, I bring my gym clothes so I can change right before I leave so I’m not tempted to drive straight home. Well, of course a co-worker of mine brings a somewhat significant person in the museum just as I’m leaving. I made a joke about how “I swear I don’t dress this way at work.” the guy laughed and it was fine.

    Anyway, your co-worker was being weird. I also hat cold shoulder tops but like Alison I am likely on the loosing side of history on this one.

  78. Middle School Teacher*

    Your coworker is a bit rude, to say the least. I wear those little shorts under my skirts too. They have the added bonus of an extra layer of the wind blows my skirt up. I’d rather people see the shorts than my undies.

  79. Dancing Pangolina*

    I also work at a university on a hill, so I can fully relate! I swear by my Athleta Midtown pants in the summer:

    I have 3 pairs already. When I wear them to work, I tuck the waist cord in and make sure the cuffs are down, and I’m ready to roll. They are so comfy and light… 3 years in and I’m still hooked.

    Oh, and I did wear shorts under dresses for years because I biked to work (different city). Mostly though, I made sure they were quick drying fabric (typically running shorts, bc biking ones have butt padding—no thank you), black or gray, and no lace. There’s no shame in it. In fact, knowing that an accidental peek under my skirt would result in total modesty, made me feel a lot better.

    So here’s to shorts under skirts!

  80. Minocho*

    I agree that cold shoulder tops are of the devil! I want professional office wear that covers my shoulders please!!!

  81. Dust Bunny*

    Your coworker was ridiculous. Practically everyone I know where shorts under her skirts (I’m in Houston).

    I usually do skirts and sleeveless or short-sleeved tops, with a jacket or sweater to put on indoors.

  82. Elle*

    I walk/take the train for a commute of 30-45 minutes daily. I only wear dresses and am a HUGE fan of Spanx! I typically select material that sweat is less likely to be visible (aka no silk or cotton) and carry a cardigan to match my dress. Today it’s a seersucker dress!

  83. Else*

    Your coworker is a totally inept MOUTH. I get men’s long-leg cotton briefs and wear those – they work great for the chub thing, and for saving your dignity if you fall or sit sideways or want to ride a random donkey walking down the road or something. They also breathe better and are less easily mistaken for spanx.

  84. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    A light, wide brimmed hat also helps keep you cool and the sun off your skin.

  85. KitKat100000*

    Can you change when you arrive at the office and at the end of the day before you leave? I know that’s not possible in all offices.

    Also – advocate for a closer parking spot during the summer!! Fifteen minutes is so far – but I understand that’s also common on college campuses to be required to walk a long distance.

  86. AnotherAlison*

    I’m also wondering if there is any confusion on whether women’s under-skirt shorts should be seen because men wear underwear with legs. My husband and sons all have the mid-thigh length athletic-type underwear.

  87. Former call centre worker*

    I sympathise with the OP (especially as it was around 28C here today, which is unusually high) but I more commonly have the opposite problem! I get cold easily and my office is air conditioned to a temperature that’s uncomfortably cold for me. In winter I quite often have a coat and scarf on and sometimes fingerless gloves – this is on top of a knitted jumper, long sleeved top (usually Uniqlo Heattech) and vest or t-shirt. Does anyone have any suggestions for dressing professionally in cold temperatures?

  88. Ladyphoenix*

    If you are wearing a shirt with sleeves you can use a panty liner to combat armpit stains. It’s a useful cosplay trick for those you don’t want sweatbstains while in span.

    Just attach it to the shirt where the sleeve meets to main area of thr shirt, right around the armpit.

  89. OR they?*

    I wear scrubs to work so I really can’t complain. However, I arrive to work earlier in the summertime so I can put on my long sleeve shirt before my shift. It’s freezing cold in the hospital year round …. no cardigans or fleece jackets permitted.

  90. steaming buns*

    I have the same problem with walking in dresses/skirts, and I’ve actually found that Body Glide is a great brand to help eliminate some friction, if you wanted to try without the shorts! I’ve used it successfully on thighs and edges of underarms (I started using it while running, then realized that it was good for daily activities on hot summer days also)
    But if you want to keep wearing shorts, DO! The coworker who said that was out of bounds and weird – it is not anything to be ashamed of or feel weird about to wear underclothes, lol.

  91. The Other Katie*

    Another good option for avoiding chub rub if you can’t wear bike shorts or skimmies for some reason is Bodyglide. (Buy the normal one, not the more expensive pink “for her” version, because they’re identical.)

  92. Just do it*

    I’m an attorney in a fortune 500 company. Wearing shorts under my dress today, no nylons, and yet my work still manages to get done just fine….

  93. Jenn*

    Summer and chub rub are brutal. My summer go-to outfits are the the linen button downs from Uniqlo over a cami tank or a sleeveless blouse from Target or LOFT. I pair with ankle pants from Target.

  94. Selene*

    The only thing I can think of as far as the shorts is that maybe the lace is throwing people off. But either way, that is a bizarre response. Maybe next time you buy more, get some that are clearly not skin color and without lace so they are pretty clearly just bike shorts, but if she really did think they were some sort of underwear, it is way more inappropriate to make a public comment like that!

  95. Anonforthis*

    Your coworker is an ass and hopefully gets medical help for her serious case of Diarrhea of the Mouth.

  96. Free Meerkats*

    I lived in Phoenix for years, and while it’s mostly flat, the walk to the car in the afternoon could be brutal. There, seniority didn’t give you closer parking spaces, it gave you spaces that were in the shade in the afternoon. Even now, in the great Pacific Northwest, I will park in the shade on sunny afternoons, it’s so ingrained in me.

    At the end of the day, why not do what I’m sure everyone there who bicycle commutes does; just pop into the restroom stall, change into something comfortable, and leave. You’re no longer at work, no need to look professional.

  97. Jes*

    I didn’t read through all the comments, so if someone else suggested this already, sorry for the repeat. I’m a runner and deal with chaffing. You can order Body Glide from Amazon and rub it on any parts that are prone to chaffing. It comes in a stick just like deodorant. No mess, no hassle, no scent, no chaffing!

  98. PersonalJeebus*

    I’m lukeworm on cold shoulder as a style, but if you live somewhere hot and your dress code prohibits sleeveless, I think they’re a good compromise. Hope your workplace allows them!

    Posts like this one make me feel so grateful to work from home in my 110+ degree summer desert weather. Bra/pants optional is my ideal way to live!

  99. Granny K*

    If you get this far in the comments, Jockey also has the equivalent of bike pants that are lighter in weight and come in multiple neutrals. These AREN’T compression garments, like Spanx but do prevent thigh rub, and panty lines. They are my go-to for any skirts or dresses.
    And can I just say: commenting on someone’s Spanx (or whatever) is like saying “I see your BRA!” Is this person in the 7th grade or something?
    Only a few months and we’ll be into autumn.

    1. Librarian of the North*

      Right? I had a co-worker tell me she could see a bit of my bra under my armpit if I raised my arms. I was shocked! Who is staring at my armpits?

    2. Hannah*

      Yes, I love these, especially because they come in white, and it is impossible to find white bike shorts (I have several black pair).

  100. DaniCalifornia*

    I wear tons of nice tank tops during the summer. I am in Texas and the heat is ridiculous. I just bought about 8 of them that are flowy and not cotton. They are all blouse materials. We are casual so I can wear them without a cardigan or blazer but if I need to I just carry something to wear over it. My boss keeps his blazers at work so all he has to do is put it on there. I also carry some wet wipes and a travel deodorant (or keep them at my desk in a cosmetics bag) so I can discreetly go to the bathroom and cool off if I do get hot and sweaty. (I enjoy walking around our historic district on lunch and also get the chub rub. I should look into OPs shorts for my dresses. I swear it’s so windy in Texas.)

  101. Michaela Westen*

    “As for cold shoulder tops … I think they’re the devil, but I’m fighting a losing battle on this.”
    So that’s what those things are called. The thing that puts me off is the strap tight around the neck. It looks so uncomfortable!
    Also fads like this are so short-lived they’re not worth doing even if I did like them. I remember the last time I was seeing these, in all the thrift stores.
    There’s something weird about them… in my office some of the support staff wears them. Not me.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        I’ve seen a few people wear shoulder cutout shirts with a tight strap around the neck. I’m not able to quickly find a photo, but it looks so uncomfortable!

  102. voluptuousfire*

    When I had to wear proper dresses for a temp gig I did in the spring/summer, I just cut old black leggings into bike short length shorts and wore them under my dress. They never did show. I still do that now with the casual dresses I wear to my current job. Old Navy leggings are great for that. I pick them up when they’re $5 or under.

  103. stanleycupcakes*

    Protip (albeit a slightly personal one): clear gel deodorant on the insides of your thighs. Friction-free all day (seriously).

    1. DaniCalifornia*

      This also works on your heels and ankles for high heels and those ankle boots. I wore ankle boots for the first time and by the end of the day the skin was rubbed RAW! But then I saw the deodorant trick for heels and tried it. Life saver!

  104. Delta Delta*

    Another comment (I just thought of something else that I want to share with everybody). I got a sample of Schmid’s natural deodorant (I got lavender & sage scent but I think there are others). I was skeptical at first, but it works so well for dryness! My husband borrowed it the other day and now I can barely pry it out of his hands. We both used it during the heatwave recently and it worked wonderfully. It’s kind of pricey, but it seemed pretty effective.

    This doesn’t solve the clothing issue, but I like it enough that I’ll tell everyone about it!

    1. Brownie*

      Be careful with the Schmidt’s Natural deodorant. It’s got some pretty bad reviews regarding the strength of the essential oils in it and how they can burn skin or cause bad reactions, especially the ones with citrus oils in them that can cause extreme UV sensitivity in skin. I tried the unscented version and wasn’t impressed, but that may be due to the fact that I have very oily skin.

    2. Michaela Westen*

      Tom’s natural deodorant works pretty well as deodorant. I haven’t tried it for anything else.
      I wear nylons to hide my varicose veins. For work I wear heavier “sheer energy” to keep warm in A/C.
      For warmer occasions I wear the very light “everyday”. They are so light I can’t feel them. If OP is interested in nylons, these would probably work for her. :)

  105. ManderGimlet*

    Your coworker is rude, but if you can see your bike shorts from under your skirt hem your skirt is too short for an office that formal.

  106. Sleepy Unicorn*

    I often wear shorts like that under dresses at work in the office. Particularly with A-line skirts or any that can accidentally lift up in a gust of wind. I jokingly refer to them as modesty shorts.

  107. Hannah*

    I often wear bike shorts or those “skimmies” under my skirts and dresses, both because of the chub rub and also because I actually bike to work and I don’t want to flash anyone. (My route is not long or arduous enough to get sweaty in the early morning, so don’t worry, I don’t arrive gross.)

    If I’m wearing a shorter skirt at work where they might show if I bend slightly, I sometimes take off the shorts once I get to work and just put them on before going home. You don’t really need them inside the office.

  108. Avalon Angel*

    I have to wear a garment similar to those bike shorts…only they are compression shorts to combat my lymphedema, a medical condition. The co-worker who made that comment should refrain from doing so, as it’s difficult to tell the difference between someone wearing Spanx to look thinner and someone wearing compression shorts prescribed by a professional because the removal of lymph nodes has caused painful swelling.

  109. MissDisplaced*

    I know women swear by skirts in summer, but I’m not one of ’em!
    I opt for loose flowy or cool sateen type pants. For tops, I do wear tanks, but only if wide strap, full coverage. Linen is also good.
    Cold shoulder tops: I have one or two for casual wear but I don’t really find appropriate for the office. I’m not sure why exactly, as I do wear sleeveless. I think I just find them fussy. (?)

  110. Karen*

    For chub rub- Monistst makes a cream you can put it so you don’t have to wear shorts. It says on the tube “to prevent chaffing” or something like that.

  111. ThatAspie*

    At the place I work at, the uniform is (with a few exceptions and special circumstances that come with different levels, duties, areas of the restaurant, and other things) like this:

    * Polo shirt
    * Pants that cover knees (jeans or khakis)
    * Provided nametag on provided lanyard
    * Black, slip-resistant shoes

    It can get very hot in the summer. Some tasks only increase the sweat that I end up dripping (can’t tell you which ones without giving myself away too much). But I still have a good time working there.

  112. Urdnot Bakara*

    Another chubby professional here who lives in a hot place and just cannot stop sweating once she starts! I wear slip shorts or some sort of shapewear under all skirts and dresses for the same reason–chub rub is no joke. (If you don’t like shapewear/compression shorts, I second the Jockey slip shorts mentioned above, but I have really big thighs and they tend to roll up for me, whereas shapewear stays in place.) Anyway, as for the heat issue, there are a lot of professional-looking sleeveless dresses (thick straps/high neckline) or short-sleeve dresses. If you hate having bare arms, you can buy cheap & really lightweight/thin fabric cardigans at Old Navy, Target, JC Penney, F21, etc., and they carry up to 2x/3x if you’re a plus-size gal like myself. Fortunately, most cardigans by default look professional no matter the quality as long as they don’t have, like, text or varsity stripes on them. I’m a cardigan fiend. Cold-shoulder tops IMO look more casual, but they’d probably look fine with a nice pencil skirt. That said, a pencil skirt would probably keep you less cool than an A-line, flowy skirt.

    1. Urdnot Bakara*

      Also, from my experience, shorts are the only sure way to prevent chub rub. I’ve tried out deodorants/powders/creams and if they work for you, that’s great, but I sweat enough that they end up making the problem worse. IDK if anyone else has had this problem….

  113. NaoNao*

    “There are three ways to tell a woman her slip is showing.
    One is to tell her with care and concern, discreetly, in a low voice.
    One is to tell her as a disinterested bystander, just giving her the news.
    One is to tel her with barely concealed glee, as if you’d discovered a character flaw. ” —paraphrased L. M. Montgomery (author of Anne of Green Gables, although this is from her lesser known –yet amazing–“A Tangled Web”)
    This last is how the coworker caroled out “I can see your Spanx!” She was not being “helpful”. She was getting one over on you.

  114. buttercup*

    I don’t understand cold-shoulder tops – my shoulders are the first part of my body I want to cover if I feel cold, and they’re too hot to wear when it’s hot out…I don’t get it! (For the same reasons, I don’t understand short-sleeve shirts made out of sweater material.)

  115. Screenwriter Mom*

    I live in Los Angeles, where it hit 115 degrees last week, and summers can be brutal (and i HATE hot weather, but this is where my work is).

    Here’s what I do: I blast the a/c until I get to my destination to get as cool as possible in my car. I am “pleasingly plump” as well, but I’ve decided to just go sleeveless and if anyone’s bothered, that’s their problem. However, I do need to wear a slightly dressier blouse in meetings. So: I wear a lightweight cotton tank top, and carry a nicer, very lightweight blouse which I put on as I get closer to wherever my meeting is. On really hot days, I also cannot recommend enough the line of “sun protective clothing” from Coolibar. I got one of their white “scarves,” which I wear around my shoulders like a shawl (or, if I’m out shopping or something, sometimes, over my head!), and honestly I now understand Lawrence of Arabia–it’s MUCH cooler!

    I’d suggest wearing thin cotton tank top, with the cool white scarf on to shade you and protect you from the sun, and a hat (also makes it cooler), and when you get to the office, take off the scarf and put on the blouse (you can even go to the ladies’ room and take off the tank top). I also carry an extra bra and extra panties and if it’s really, really, really, hot, will change those (they get soaked with sweat) when I get to the meeting (easy to do inside a bathroom stall).

    My preferred brand is Eileen Fisher–she makes really nice quality, but lightweight tank tops, and simple blouses (shop Nordstrom Rack or wait for sales!). The key is to get 100% cotton.

    Lastly, this may read as too eccentric (screenwriters can get away with a bit more than most, but even I wouldn’t do it for a really important meeting), but Coolibar makes the most amazing “sunbrellas.” I swear, it’s 10 degrees cooler under them. They’re made from some kind of shade-inducing material, usually grey or silver. You can find them on amazon too. I also wear sun gloves (fingerless), especially in the car where they really, really keep your hands cool in the broiling sun. You can mutter direful things about the ozone layer and wanting to avoid skin cancer, which stops anyone from commenting.

    You can also take the shorts off when you’re inside, if you feel selfconscious (but honestly there’s no need).

    Lastly, always carry an ice-cold bottle of water in your bag; sipping ice water (and holding it against your neck) really helps.

    Good luck. We were in Paris in a heatwave and all the elegant Japanese tourists were sporting sunbrellas. We just have to consider ourselves in the avant garde!!!

    1. Workerbee*

      Thank you for the new-to-me rec of Coolibar!

      I get you about Lawrence of Arabia. Layers = protection + catch any breeze there might be.

  116. SS Express*

    My suggestions:

    -Commute in a cami/tank and put a cardigan, sweater or blouse on top just before you walk into work
    -Commute in flip-flops or sandals and change your shoes when you get to work (shoes may be heavy to carry, but at many offices you could leave them under your desk and sneak in with your flip flops still on)
    -A-line skirts and dresses allow more airflow than pencil shapes
    -Skirts and dresses in a stretchy fabric (like ponte) are more comfortable than those in heavier suiting fabrics with lining
    -Black doesn’t show sweat much; busy prints are better than solid colours too
    -That clinical strength deodorant doesn’t help with heat but will minimise sweating
    -If shorts under a skirt are too hot or too noticeable, the chafing gel runners use may help – or even deodorant or baby powder
    -A sun umbrella or huge shady sunhat might help
    -Crank your car’s AC and chug a bottle of ice-cold water so you’re nice and cool when you get out, and it’ll take you longer to get hot
    -Those paper fans really make a difference, I keep one in my bag in summer! Everyone makes fun of me at first, until they ask to borrow it. I think you can also get mini battery-operated misting fans if you want to get serious.
    -Tell your nosy coworker to quit looking up your skirt and commenting on what she sees!

    Source: I live in Australia

  117. ShopLady*

    Ewww that is so rude to call out your bike shorts! I wear a Maidenform pair (nude and black) that also go all the way up to my bra- they’re lightweight, stop chub rub and keep everything generally smooth without being Spanx tight. I’m the same age as you working with much older coworkers with a totally different sense of style than my own (I also work in a church so slightly different dress to what I’d normally wear to any other job). I have two rules for summer dressing- either cotton or linen and I must be able to wear a normal bra with whatever top I have on. I think cold shoulder is fine if it has the straps to cover your brastraps.

    I also carry baby powder with me for midday top ups when I sweat. Helps me feel fresh again and eliminates moisture around the bra line, skirt waistband and thighs. I have a huge commute up a hill (are we the same person?!) and by the time I sit down at my desk I am both knackered and sweating profusely- no AC in England! Baby powder has been a lifesaver.

    1. ShopLady*

      Sorry I should have said- I work with women much older with a different sense of style which means it’s harder to take the lead from them in terms of what to wear.

      My favourite company for workwear is Next, which is UK based but ships internationally for very little. They do a great linen shift dress with more work appropriate proportions (still hits my knees at 5’9″) and I believe they carry extended sizes

  118. Erika22*

    I’m not sure exactly how professionally you have to dress for work, but I recommend the work clothes from Athleta/Eddie Bauer. They’re usually made in light breathable fabrics and there’s blazers, blouses, pants, etc (with the idea of being for fun travel or work travel). Since they’re also usually made of quick dry material, sweating shouldn’t be much of an issue. You can always invest in a few basic pieces and then just wash ever few days and they’ll easily dry overnight. A pair of pants from Athleta SAVED me on a trip to Marrakech in the summer last year – I was covered well and wasn’t dying in the heat because they’re so breathable and comfy. Both brands usually have a good range of sizes – Athleta even has plus!

    1. JustaTech*

      Seconding Eddie Bauer for professional-looking clothes in quick-dry fabrics. If you look in the “travel” section they have really normal looking clothing that’s very breathable. (The hiking stuff is great too, but depends on how OK your office is with plaid.) I have a grey a-line skort from there that I wore all over Europe and to work.

      The other place to consider for quick-dry clothes are places that specialize in “travel” clothing; the kind of stuff you can wad up in a backpack and wash in a bathroom sink and still look art-museum appropriate. The one that comes to mind is Ex Officio, but I’m sure there are others.

  119. Safetykats*

    I wear golf skorts in the summer – a lot. You can find them in neutral colors (beige, black, grey, ivory) and I have a fantastic beige houndstooth one. They come in great fabrics for hot weather, and paired with a sleeveless sweater or shell they look really nice. Mostly the people I work with are pretty surprised to find out what they really are. (Cute skirt, where did you get that? Nike Golf.)

  120. Krystal*

    Not sure if its been suggested but I use chub rub ‘For Her’, its brilliant, a lovely cream that sinks in and prevents rubbing, can be reapplied as you like. I love it as I was getting too hot wearing shorts under skirts/dresses.

  121. Gypsy_Acidqueen*

    Men’s boxer briefs come in fancy moisture wicking athletic fabric and it’s the BEST for under skirts and breezy crotches. You can also get them in long leg or short leg sizes.

    As to the coworker blurting stuff out…I have had a problem where after the restroom my skirt was stuck in my waistband. My coworker was nice enough to be quiet in her “oh no! your skirt!” but then that was just invitation for everyone’s neck to snap back. I was able to reply with a quick “THIS IS WHY I WEAR SHORTS. That way you did not see my underwear. you saw shorts. I can also do this *starts to do weird leg squats to show that there is no underwear shame coz you can’t see them*” Not been a problem with anyone since. Own the fact that you cracked the code and won the game of life and that shorts under your skirt is the best way to go!

  122. The other April Ludgate*

    Not to derail, but OP, have you considered athleisure office-appropriate pants? Like the ones with a drawstring? Elastic waist breezy office pants are in-style too and thankfully have been for the past two summers. Zara, Uniqlo and others carry them. They are supercomfy and great on hot days. I’m not big on skirts myself esp. in a role that involves visiting the teapot production line, but I hate the heat and those work incredibly well.

    And @Alison – I hate cold shoulder tops too and refuse to wear them. Most of them constrict hand/shoulder movement. Hate them as much as strapless dresses.

    1. OCD gal*

      All my office pants are elastic waist dress pants from Walmart. They’re cheap, look fine in my business casual-casual office, and are very comfortable in hot weather.

  123. Agile Phalanges*

    Just wanted to chime in on the “chub rub.” I have the same issue, but when I went to Thailand and it was SO hot and humid, I couldn’t stand to wear shorts under my skirts, plus the “squatty potties” made it a pain to deal with the extra layers anyway. I learned that silicone-based sex lube works GREAT to prevent chub rub. It lasts all day, only comes off when washed with soap, and keeps things gliding smoothly all day long. The next time I went to Thailand, I went with my son, and not an SO, but brought the lube anyway. I’ve also used it whenever I (rarely) wear skirts or dresses back home, and even to keep things from rubbing when I horseback ride long distances. It’s wonderful stuff.

    1. Lauren*

      On that front, they make products (designed for athletes/running, but I use it all the time!) for anti-chafing. Bodyglide is one brand – it comes in a neat deodorant-like stick.

  124. OCD gal*

    It’s not for everyone, but I find that chub rub is nonexistent if I don’t shave my thighs. Personally, I don’t wear skirts or dresses, and wear bermuda length shorts, so nobody notices. I only shave above the knee if I’m going swimming.

    Leg hair! It protects you!

  125. Lauren*

    Not sure if that was just to show the general style of the shorts you wear, or those are the actual shorts you wear, but can I recommend you stop wearing cotton? You don’t have to go with spanx (or similar) that make you feel like you’re in an 1800s corset – they make shapewear that is for SLIMMING (oxygen-crushing) and for SHAPING (fits well and smooths everything out, but is also comfortable). I highly recommend going with a non-cotton shapewear over those bike shorts – they’re going to be much more breathable than cotton. They also make them in different lengths and cuts so you should be able to find something that will fit under your skirts/dresses so they aren’t visible for anyone to give their opinion about.

    Is the colleague someone you are otherwise friendly with? She may have just been trying to make you aware that they’re visible in case you didn’t know and she wanted to help you out (in general, undergarments *should* remain UNDER your clothing and out of sight, particularly in professional settings). Without being there, it’s hard to say if she was just trying to help a fellow gal out, or if she was actually trying to “call you out” or judge you or something.

  126. Rachel*

    Megababe is the most awesome product for thigh chafe. I don’t work for them or anything. For the first time in maybe a decade, I can wear dresses and walk for days without shorts or spanx underneath, and that has made a huge difference in hot and humid weather!

  127. NewJobWendy*

    Fellow chubby girl here. My personal experience with some of the brands mentioned above:

    Jockey Skimmies: I personally find these the most comfortable. They are thinner and cooler than Thigh Society or Under Summers. Cons: don’t go up to the same size range as Thigh Society or Undersummers. I personally like these the best, and find they fit better on my petite (but round) frame.

    Thigh Society and Undersummers: I find these to be a bit thicker than Jockey Skimmies but both do the job. I find neither layers over regular underwear well, it’s too hot. I think Thigh Society has the largest size range, though, so that’s a big consideration. Cons: I find I need to pre-soak them to get them really clean.

    TomboyX: “boxer briefs” that come in a variety of leg lengths. Made of traditional cotton underwear fabric as opposed to the technical fabrics favored by Jockey, Thigh Society, and Undersummers. The wide waistband is comfortable, but sometimes feel like a lot around my waist when wearing closely fitted waistbands on skirts or pants. It’s worth trying a pair if you like this style, though. I found I like a shorter boxer brief style the best to wear under my jeans. Sometimes in summer I chafe wearing jeans in a way I don’t during cooler months. However, being cotton, I also find that I cannot layer a cotton skirt over them – the skirt will cling to the shorts. If you have a lot of cotton skirts, it’s something to consider. These are also great for any situation in which you want to avoid a wedgie.

    I think any of these 4 brands produce great products and I’ve tried them all to find the ones that work best for me.

  128. Dawn88*

    What works for me and looks professional enough for heat waves….
    Clothes in rayon and cotton (breathable fabrics) Bike shorts under skirts would make me sweat instantly! Any spandex in hot weather is terrible! Wear COTTON underneath!
    Try to find “broomstick” type rayon dresses and slacks (no ironing)
    Flowy style full rayon skirts (hitting knee or a tad longer, not to your ankles)
    Wear “shell” tops (not skimpy tank tops, but sleeveless blouses-Penneys has hundreds in their Worthington line)
    Use baby powder liberally, especially in shoes (I always kept some in my desk)
    Angled/handkerchief hem sleeveless tops in rayon, over the flowly slacks
    Ponytails or buns for putting hair up (takes off 20 degrees with hair up) Not just winding hair up in a plastic jaw clip (not professional) but use a bun form, with a few bobby pins, and you look polished! (and no pulled back hair headache)
    Dressy wedge shoes with straps around back (not step-in style or mules) keep you cool without looking too nightclub bare, or cute dressy flats (powder them inside first)

    Good Luck!

    1. Carrie*

      I can specifically recommend the “cooling” style of Jockey Skimmies. They’re light, breathable, ventilated shorts underwear. I can walk miles in them in Texas summer heat and still be comfortable.

      I used to wear shapewear shorts, not knowing of any alternatives, and those were just awful in the heat! Thick and non-breathable.

  129. Rachael*

    Try bodyglide for the chub rub. It’s about $8 on amazon and a stick should last a good 6 month+.

  130. Carrie*

    You may just need to aim for slightly longer skirts. I too wear mid-thigh-length bike-shorts style underwear under dresses and skirts to prevent chub rub — and therefore, I wear knee-length or longer skirts so the shorts don’t peek out. I feel more confident and comfortable that way. It’s a fairly minor wardrobe malfunction if they did peek out — akin to the bottom of a slip peeking out — but still.

    I have one mid-thigh-length dress that I’ll only wear outside of work now, because of the risk of shorts peekage.

  131. bohtie*

    I wear a lot of TomboyX stuff as mentioned above and while I love their underwear, I find also that it stretches out very quickly and never quite recovers. Within a few months, the cotton is basically shot and everything is baggy, which kinda defeats the purpose. It’s not really worth the money, at least for me, unless there’s a big sale.

    OP, I don’t wear skirts anymore because I’m trans, but when I did, I had a few pairs of what I thought of as Spanx-lite that were basically double-thick versions of the top of a pair of pantyhose. They were cotton/spandex, so still breathable, pretty close to skin tone, and I just bought a size or two up.

    Honestly when it’s really bad, I just wear basketball shorts and a t-shirt and change in the bathroom when I get to the office. If it’s not horrible I might wear my suit pants and undershirt, and then throw a real shirt on when I get there. It’s gotten me an occasional comment, but nothing rude, and considering how much I sweat, I’m pretty sure I”m doing everyone there a favor, haha.

  132. Wearing Real Pants in Illinois*

    Cold shoulder tops and dresses are right up there with wearing leggings as pants as a national fashion horror. The problem is that when a fad like that hits, stores go nuts and carry nothing else but the offending items.

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