11 Summer Work Dresses That Will Keep You Cool In The Office, Even During Heat Wave Week

There's nothing worse than wearing a cute outfit during the summer and spending the entire day sweating, all because dressing for work in the summer is a literal nightmare. Of course, it would be great if we could all just walk around in bikinis all day during the months of July and August, but most of us have to go to places (like work) that call for a specific dress code. Unfortunately, heat conflicting with your fabric can be one of the most annoying seasonal predicaments, since you have to balance looking professional with staying cool and comfortable.

My advice is to wear a dress that allows you to show some skin, has a loose fit, and is tailored in some way to dress it up. You don't want to roll into the office wearing a sundress that belongs on the beach, though, so making sure that the dress looks professional is key here. This doesn't mean you need to wear the equivalent of a prom gown to the office, but finding a happy medium is a good bet.

Length and cleavage are probably the two biggest issues that can come up in dressing for the workplace come summer, and while I (and maybe you) may think that these rules are oppressive and sexist, many of us are unfortunately in a position where we still have to follow them. It's not worth risking your job over an outfit dispute, so trying to find a way to make the dress code work for you will get you a lot farther than trying to push the rules. Any summer dress that is slightly above the knees and uses a higher neckline is definitely a workplace do. Always use your best judgement when it comes to fit, and if you're questioning whether or not a dress is going to work for you, I would air on the side of caution.

If you are or have been looking for that perfect summer work dress that manages to beat the heat, is stylish, and also office appropriate, look no further than this list of 11 summer dresses.

1. The '70s Sundress

Mali Sundress, $179, peruvianconnection.com

This sundress from Peruvian Connection combines the best elements of any dress designed to beat the heat; it's made with cool, comfortable jersey, has intricate detailing, a loose fitting cut, and also shows some skin, but not so much that it's not office appropriate. This number can also be dressed up or down with your accessories and can go from the beach to dinner in a breeze.

2. The Cool Snake Skin Sheath

Cold Shoulder Snake Print Dress, $148, bloomingdales.com

This plus size dress is such a great option to rock at the office, since it's fun, but not too fun. The off-the-shoulder cut detail gives this piece a lot of visual interest and the print will keep your eyes locked on it for days. You can also see how loose fitting the dress is, making it sweat proof for times when it's sweltering outside.

3. The Pleated Chiffon

Pleated Belted Chiffon Dress, $48, dressbarn.com

This summer dress is the color of the sun and the perfect frock to wear just about anywhere! You could easily take it to the office, wear it at a party, or even to a summer wedding. It's the perfect go-to dress for when you need to look instantly cute with little effort. It also manages to be conservative while also being playful and fun, which is a hard combination to find. This dress comes in sizes 4-16, so women of many different sizes can don its loveliness.

4. The Crochet Maxi

Jessica Howard Crochet Maxi Dress, $48, macys.com

I'm a lover of hippie chic fashion and this is my personal favorite dress of the bunch. The lace dealing that goes all the way down to your toes is breathtaking and looks fantastic against bare legs, but also leaves you cool. The top of the dress is pretty modest and doesn't show any cleavage, making it a great work option. It's dramatic, trendy, and eye catching, but still manages to fall on the tame side.

5. The Belted Chiffon

Summer Pleated Belted Chiffon Dress, $19, oasap.com

Another chiffon number, this dress is a lot more relaxed and free flowing. The belt allows you to adjust the waist as you like, giving you the option of tightening to a more body hugging fit or keeping it more loose and casual, as the model is wearing it here. This mint green color is also very on trend this season, so this dress is the perfect way to rock the trend at the office.

6. The Striped Color Blocked Dress

Jessica Simpson Plus-Size Florence Striped Dress, $39, bostonstore.com

Isn't this dress just fab? This plus size number from Jessica Simpson is just perfect for work during the summer, or really any occasion! The gorgeous orange and blue color blocking really gives this traditionally cut dress a breath of fresh air that brightens the whole look up.

7. The Short Sleeve Lace Dress

European American Short Sleeve Novelty Lace Dress, $12, aliexpress.com

This lace dress will keep you cool and comfortable, since its short sleeved and mid thigh length allow you to show some skin while remaining on the conservative side, making it a great work option. Also, the lace looks very vintage inspired and is great for those of us who want to throw on something that's effortless. The best part is that this dress is totally size inclusive and can be ordered in a size S all the way to a 4XL! Yay for inclusive sizing!

8. The Jersey Flare Neck

Jersey Jewel Neck Flare Dress, $118, nordstrom.com

This jewel toned jersey dress is the perfect option to keep you cool and stylish at work. This dress is basically a blank canvass that you can do anything with; add a belt, throw on a blazer, or even wear a pair of cute tights underneath.

9. The Sleeveless Classic

Plus-Size Sleeveless Ponte Dress, $20, target.com

If you love pinup style and are obsessed with 1950s fashion, you'll love this sleeveless A-line dress from Target. The black and white stripes give this dress a neutral feel that can either be worn with other neutrals or fun pops of color. Plus, this dress can really be taken to any number of occasions and looks sophisticated but fresh at the same time.

10. The Sun Protector Nylon Dress

Aster Twist-Back Dress, $80, eddiebauer.com

This dress is not only cute and fun, but is also lined with FreeDry polyester/spandex and FreeShade UPF 50+ sun protection, ensuring that you will stay cool, dry, and sunburn free.

11. The Dressed Up T-Shirt Dress

See Right Through Bloom Dress, $17, modcloth.com

This dress is so unique with the flower coloring and gives off totally hippie vibes, but is slightly dolled up. The loose sleeves also give you a little more skin coverage, but are not going to be tight around your arms, allowing you to move freely. This dress is really perfect for the office because of its more conservative cut and coverage, but is also very playful with the blue floral print that gives it an interesting twist.

Images: HBO; Courtesy Brands