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How to look professional and keep cool in the summer

There is still more than another month of summer ahead, so here are some tips on hot-weather dressing from Westport Ont.-based image consultant Catherine Bell in her Prime Impressions Image Communiqué.

Men should opt for high-twist, lightweight tropical wools, keeping in mind that the tighter the weave, the less the fabric will wrinkle. When the wool is blended with linen or silk, the garment will be even more comfortable, and still will be fairly wrinkle-resistant.

Look for summer jackets with half-linings. Pick 100-per-cent cotton shirts. "The higher the quality of the cotton (e.g. Sea Island or Egyptian), the more polished you'll look, and the easier it will be to iron. If the fabric also has a crease-resistant finish, you'll never appear crumpled," she writes. Consider slacks made with ceramic fibres that are designed to lower your body temperature.

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She alerts women to "cool wool," a lightweight merino fabric, which is available in suits, dresses and separates. She notes that skirts and dresses are often cooler than pants. A tailored dress made from heavy cotton will stand away from your body and create its own air conditioning. She urges women to lighten their accessories, choosing a clutch over a large bag. Also, keep jewellery to a minimum.

"Lastly, always take off your jacket when working at your desk or travelling. You will extend the life of your garment by avoiding those 'permanent' creases on arms and across the back – something you don't want your clients to see as you lead them to your office. Over all, you'll keep cool, knowing that you look your professional best," she says.

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