Summer office fashion, from no-sweat shirts to cooling socks

Lisa Irizarry
Twillory’s performance shirt line stretches and wicks moisture as an athletic shirt would.

“Never let them see you sweat” is popular advice for handling difficult situations, but making that work in the literal sense during a busy day at the job can be a problem in the summertime.

Long commutes or walking from a parking lot to your office building in the blazing heat can make you look and feel like a hot mess when you arrive at work, and even when you’ve cooled down it can be challenging to figure out how to stay cool, comfortable and look good if you have errands to run before you get home or you’re meeting friends for drinks.

“As the lines between work and life become blurred people need clothing that can flex with the demands of fast-paced, 16-hour days,” says Aman Advani, CEO and co-founder of the Ministry of Supply fashion brand. It’s one of a growing number of companies using technology to make clothing worn in a professional office environment more functional and in some cases like athletic wear – a trend fashion Advani calls “performance professional,” which may be the future of fashion for the workplace.

The innovative new looks include dress shirts that can prevent perspiration, hide sweat and regulate body temperature, odor controlling socks, women’s shoes that can convert from a high heel to a flat and back again, women’s pants with a hem that goes up and down. A convertible dress/shirt available online from ADAY is a five-in-one piece that can be worn back-to-front, front-to-back, open, closed, cinched at the waist or loose, and the collar can be popped or folded.

Thompson Tee, a brand featured on ABC’s popular reality show “Shark Tank,” offers patented undershirts for men and women made from a lightweight, breathable fabric that’s said to hide sweat marks, odor and yellow stains. The shirts are made in a variety of colors, fits and necklines and the company announced in March that 1 million had been sold.

“Consumers today want the comfort and performance of athletic clothes outside of the gym – we saw that with the rise of athleisure,” Advani says.

One of the newest performance collections was launched in April by Banana Republic.

“Our clothing is designed for a life in motion, so it suits lives on the go,” says chief marketing officer Mary Alderete. “We were able to take a fabric technology originally made for high-performance sport and outdoor and create products that have the same look and feel as something you’d wear to work or a night out.”

The collection is for men and includes a summer blazer and pants and all pieces are engineered with temperature regulation, quick dry, wrinkle resistant and stretch properties for “peak performance all day, every day,” Alderete adds. She says the customer for this line is a man who’s “curious, connected and out in the world.”

A brand launched in June – Pashion Footwear – features a convertible shoe for women that requires “only a twist of the wrist” to create a heel or flat. It was invented and developed by 23-year-old entrepreneur Haley Pavone, according to the brand. Pavone says it was her mission “to create a comfortable heel that can transition with a woman throughout her day – from the boardroom to the ballpark.”

Eli Blumstein, a spokesman for the menswear and boys’ brand Twillory, says that using performance technology for professional workplace fashion just works.

“We believe this is becoming the new norm, and the performance dress category is only in its infancy,” Blumstein says. “People are traveling for work a lot more, people have all kinds of commutes – traveling by train, bike or even skateboard. Our performance line is tailored for the hustle.”