What Blouses to Wear to Work During DC’s Hot and Sticky Summertime

Photo by Axel Bueckert via iStock.

Summer in Washington is swampy, and though breezy skirts and dresses might keep you cool, the age-old issue is blouses. Or, more specifically, sweating through blouses on your walk to work and looking like a hot mess for the remainder of the day.

To answer the question of how to style blouses to look profession without literally losing your cool, Rosana Vollmerhausen, owner of DC Style Factory, has the following tips.

Embrace prints.

“Don’t be afraid to have some fun  and incorporate some bright and bold print, color, and texture,” says Vollmerhausen. “One of my favorite summer work tops purchased for a client was a Kate Spade blouse with a gorgeous abstract floral print on it in beautiful pastel shades. My client gets compliments [every time] she wears it.” As an added bonus, small, repeated patters will help to disguise sweat.

Wear a blouse with a lot of fabric.

“Try a dramatic silhouette. Instead of a blouse that tucks or whittles the waist, don’t be afraid to try a top with a structured, boxy silhouette meant to be worn without a layering piece,” says Vollmerhausen. The boxier cuts also will help hold the fabric away from your body, making for a breezier wear.

Wear a top with a little fabric.

“Crop tops are still on the scene,” says Vollmerhausen. To make them office-appropriate, Vollmerhausen suggests wearing them “as a ‘vest’ with a button-down blouse and high-waisted wide-leg trousers or pencil skirt” underneath. When it’s time for post-work rooftop cocktails, peel off the button-down bottom layer and wear the crop top alone.

Go ahead—wear shirts with sleeves.

Sleeveless shirts may sound cooler, but not if they have to be worn under another garment. “Try a blouse that isn’t a sleeveless shell meant to be layered under a blazer or cardigan. Go for a blouse that has a dolman, bell, or mid-sleeves,” says Vollmerhausen. “These blouses are meant to stand alone. Pair with a metallic choker to dress up your look.”

Mimic a dress.

Even if a blouse isn’t visually interesting on its own, matching it with a similarly-colored skirt can create a “monochromatic chic” aesthetic. “Create a ‘dress’ with a monochromatic blouse/skirt combo. The monochromatic look will transform your blouse from a work separate into a ‘power dress,’” says Vollmerhausen. Plus, it’s also easier to get away with wearing colored shell without a jacket or cardigan if it looks like it’s part of a sheath dress. 

To learn more about how to wear a work blouse with style this summer, check out the Vollmerhausen’s DC Style Factory workshop at Betsy Fisher, 1224 Connecticut Ave., NW, at 6 PM on Thursday, June 30. Tickets are $45 and may be purchased here.

Associate Editor

Caroline Cunningham joined Washingtonian in 2014 after moving to the DC area from Cincinnati, where she interned and freelanced for Cincinnati Magazine and worked in content marketing. She currently resides in College Park.