Lighten up for summer with bold prints and colors. On...

Lighten up for summer with bold prints and colors. On Ryan: Tommy Hilfiger suit, $529 at Tommy Hilfiger, Manhattan; Ted Baker shirt, $125, and Calvin Klein belt, $45, at select Macy’s; tie, $15 at; Club Monaco trench coat, $99 at Club Monaco, Southampton; Kensington Road frames, $79 at; Vince Camuto shoes, $125 at Vince Camuto, Americana Manhasset and Wheatley Plaza. On Sierra: Vince Camuto tank, $79, and satchel, $298, BCBGMaxAzria blazer, $288, and Rachel Rachel Roy pants, $89, at select Macy’s; Gerard Yosca necklace, $165 at Jennifer Miller, Southampton; Sperry Top-Sider wedges, $98 at Sperry Top-Sider, Manhattan. Credit: Barbara Alper

Building a professional summer work wardrobe that makes you look and feel cool can be, well, a job in itself.

The sweat-inducing weather begs lightweight materials and summertime silhouettes, but the "brrr"-worthy air-conditioning that offices tend to favor necessitates heavier pieces. Another challenge: No matter how much the ocean beckons, beachwear just doesn't cut it in most corporate environments.

"The weather is no excuse to look sloppy," says GQ's Mark Anthony Green. "No matter where you work, you still want to look put-together."

A polished ensemble starts with breathable fabrics. Gents should swap heavy wool suit and sportcoats for cotton, lightweight wool, linen or even seersucker in a dark hue. "Your wool suits need a break after a harsh winter," says Durand Guion, men's fashion director at Macy's.

Whenever possible, ditch the tie -- or exchange it for a print pocket square -- and wear a fitted dress shirt, which allows men to "hold your jacket ... and still look neat and pulled together," says Guion.

The sleek staples of every woman's work wardrobe -- pencil skirts, shift dresses, cardigans -- can get summer-ready in bright hues and prints.

Summer is also the perfect time to scour stores for color. In a creative office, go wild and mix prints and hues, but in a conservative environment, pair a vibrant piece with a neutral like tan or navy blue, says Joe Zee, editor-in-chief of Yahoo Fashion. Or just "tiptoe into the trend" with a bright accessory, Zee says. "Color is always the easiest, most cost-effective and effortless way to spice up your summer work wardrobe," Zee says.

Or forget color. "It sounds simple, but it's also striking," says style expert and editor Bobbie Thomas of white. Instead of a typical black blazer, don a white one with black closet staples.

Meanwhile, men who don't wear bright colors in the winter "shouldn't feel pressured to wear them" now, says Green: "If you're a guy who's looking to brighten things up at work, try it in small punches -- a bright linen tie, a bold striped shirt, fuchsia socks, whatever."

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