California State University, San Bernardino

Warmer temperatures affect work wardrobe choices in Coachella Valley

Even though summer has come to a close, the sweltering heat is still present in the Palm Springs area. This can make it difficult for working students and professionals to adapt to a not-so-accommodating work dress code.

With temperatures known to reach upward of 110 degrees, the Coachella Valley is a literal hot spot compared to its surrounding counties.

Residents often select light pieces of clothing that will better accommodate them during the stifling heat, but that is not easy to accomplish when it comes to work dress codes.

Some prominent businesses in the desert community enforce dress codes for their employees that involve thick material and heavy coverage.

It is typically not advised for workers to show a certain amount of skin while on the clock— a guideline that is prominently focused toward women.

Coachella Valley resident Anahi Duarte is a bookseller at Barnes & Noble, where she must adhere to company policy when it comes to her clothing choices, regardless of the temperature outside.

“I can’t wear blouses with spaghetti straps, skirts above the knee, or tops and pants that fit too tightly. It’s all just policy, so our shoulders can’t be bare no matter how hot it gets in the summer,” explained Duarte.

Even with these limitations, Duarte believes that the dress code is reasonable, especially considering that certain items of clothing would hinder her mobility on the job.

“For me, shorter hemlines would make it hard for me to walk around and bend over for things. Plus spaghetti straps could easily fall off,” said Duarte.

Businesses and chain establishments that do not require a uniform enforce these strict dress code guidelines because they want to enforce a professional appearance for their employees who represent the company. But why are appearances such an important factor in the professional world?

According to Sexual Assault Services Inc. representative Carrie DeGroff, a person’s wardrobe choices and outward appearance convey a visual message that is naturally interpreted by others.

“I think the way we project ourselves to the rest of the world affects the responses we get back. If we look like we take care of ourselves, people will treat us as such. It’s also great to see that there’s more acceptance when it comes to different body types and ethnicities, so society is learning to be inclusive of variety,” stated DeGroff.

The professional upkeep of an employee in terms of fashion choice is a prominent reason for these dress code restrictions, but there are other places of employment that prioritize functionality and heat sustainability over image.

Larry Devora, a senior recreation leader at the Desert Recreation District, is involved with daily physical activity that formal job attire would not be practical to wear.

“Part of our uniform are these dri-FIT work shirts that are pretty comfortable in any temperature. We cannot wear anything like sandals though, because at my place of work, proper shoes are required to run most of the exercise machines,” said Devora.

While keeping cool and maintaining a work-appropriate style can be difficult in the Coachella Valley, there are wardrobe solutions that can help remedy the situation.

Layering clothing is one way to adapt to the warm weather, such as wearing lightweight cotton dresses that go down to the knee and a structured blazer if shoulders show.

This makes it easier to go sleeveless while walking outside, then quickly putting on a jacket before entering the office or place of work.

While men may be required to wear trousers or pants, the kind of material can greatly affect the level of comfort in the summer.

Avoiding dense fabrics like nylon or polyester that retain heat will make wearing long articles of clothing more bearable.

Layering also applies, like substituting the traditional two-piece suit with a thin dress shirt and slacks.

A polo shirt is also acceptable with a jacket on hand in case long sleeves are absolutely necessary.

Extreme temperatures will soon subside, but until then, the Coachella Valley community is prepared to dress functionally and comfortably for this season of employment.

Twin brothers Pan and Pong Proakatok sport functional summer work attire that showcases their personalities. Photo courtesy of Crystal Harrell.
Sexual Assault Services Inc. representative Carrie DeGroff showcases her work-appropriate clothing. Photo courtesy of Crystal Harrell.
Weather-appropriate work clothes for men. Photo courtesy of Crystal Harrell.


Publisher Greg Bowman sports traditional professional attire suitable for men. Photo courtesy of Crystal Harrell.