Office wear for uber hot climate
April 26, 2014 2:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm transferring from Scotland to Dubai for three months - probably June, July, August. As far as I can see, its going to be crazy hot (40C + ?) in the desert for these months - I've spent a couple of days in Dubai before but not in the height of summer - I'll be doing an office job and expect to be spending my time going from air conditioned apartment to air conditioned office but I'm keen to hear any practical tips in terms of office wear (I'm a suit-wearing bloke) and any other pointers for going to the Gulf (or anywhere similarly hot) and being productive in an office job in an uber-hot climate. Thanks!
posted by khites to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I used to be a suit-wearer in Tokyo, which is not often in the 40s, but definitely the 30s (and humid -- ugh!) My approach to surviving:
  • Undershirts
  • Don't go outside
You'd think the undershirt would make you hotter (and who knows, maybe it does) but the alternative of (visibly!) sweating through your shirt, then your suit, was even more awful (at least to my sensibilities).

They have new-fangled hot-weather undershirts nowadays that should help a lot too. I have a couple, but haven't really put them to the test in an oppressively hot climate.
posted by spacewrench at 2:40 PM on April 26, 2014

Best answer: I moved from Chicago to Brisbane, Australia a few years back. While it's certainly not Dubai hot, I did notice that I had my socks all wrong for this climate. Sounds stupid, but anything with non-breathable thickness underneath a wool dress pant (of any weight, really) made me super uncomfortable (when my feet are roasting, I'm miserable). I had to correct that problem straightaway.

I might also suggest looking into tees made of merino wool, like from Icebreaker and boxer briefs from Ex Officio. I do a bunch of business travel to places like Singapore, KL and India, and I'm much more comfortable in merino and the Ex Officio underwear fabric than I am in my alternatives. I think the merino would work fine as an undershirt, but I also recommend the fabric for everyday hot temperature wear.
posted by GamblingBlues at 3:01 PM on April 26, 2014

In Dubai, I went with linen skirts and a more open-weave shirts over tank tops. I take it you are male? Perhaps you can find clothes in the same materials.

(Note that it is a dry heat, and really that does make a difference. The heat is not too awfully bad, although I guess it depends on what you are used to.)
posted by Houstonian at 3:22 PM on April 26, 2014

Lived for years in a deserty part of the world though not Dubai. You want your sweat to get to the outside to evaporate, the whole dry heat thing really makes a difference and if you drink enough and your sweat can evaporate it makes the heat so much more bearable, even with the heat my house was not airconditioned. Sweat evaporates almost instantly so being a soggy mess is not a huge problem.

The men where I worked mostly wore around the air conditioned office, natural fibre shirts without undershirts and summer weight wool suits. If they wore undershirts at all they were sleeveless, considering you are going to an Arab country you most probably want an undershirt, make sure if it's not something light like cotton it breaths and will wick the sweat away from you. Cotton & cotton blend shirts are good. A lot of the suits were a lighter colour for summer wear as well.
posted by wwax at 4:19 PM on April 26, 2014

The air conditioning I experienced in June in Dubai and Doha is unreal. I remember shivering at night in one hotel because I didn't have long sleeves. There's plenty of shopping there but have at least one long sleeved jacket (or sport coat or whatever is the man equivalent of a spring/summer/fall cardigan)
posted by NikitaNikita at 5:23 PM on April 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seersucker, lightweight wool, linen are all good materials for light weight suits.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:04 PM on April 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

To help manage sweat and immediate body heat, consider grabbing a few t-shirts and singlets made from 'cool dry' or similar moisture-wicking fabric* – fairly tight fit.

The base material is generally 100% polyester or poly/cotton, which sounds awful but isn't. Cool dry fabrics are breathable (i.e. air permeable by design) and they dissipate heat by drawing excess moisture from your skin directly to the outer face garment. This is in stark contrast to fabrics like cotton knit, which will soak up and hold onto a fair bit of moisture, trapping it against your body.

A hot, sweaty, nipple-chafing cotton undershirt is an awful feeling that lasts and lasts! especially when you're jumping from dry 40°+ outside to a much cooler, humidified environment inside. There's a maddening 15 to 30 minutes (adjusted for stress/BMI/hirsuteness) to completely cool off and - partially - dry out.

Cool dry, being laterally as well as vertically wicking spreads any moisture within the cloth, and traps roughly none. Spreading moisture around might sound gross, but it helps prevent saturation points and aids evaporation nicely.

Having said all that, look at a slightly looser cut than you'd normally select for any button shirts. Airflow is key, especially in the sleeves.

*If you do go down this route, look for fabrics that have been yarn-treated - this means the additional fancy properties have been baked in before the cloth is woven. Many cool-dry fabrics simply have the treatment sprayed onto the finished cloth, meaning your fancy hi-tech shirt turns back into a fairly unexciting polyester mesh after as few as ~5-10 washes
posted by not the fingers, not the fingers at 8:36 PM on April 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I worked in Muscat in Oman a few summers back. Some tips for coping with heat:

- YES to the poster above who suggested the airism/uniqlo quick-dry underclothes
- avoid time outside during the day but be prepared for much more happening at night; evening outdoor/patio cafes might be a thing especially during Ramadan
- if possible change into/out of workwear at the office
- avoid time getting to/from your car by parking as close to your indoor destination as possible (and you will need a car - it is your air conditioned lifeline to the rest of the world!)
- check Ramadan shop/cafe/mall/etc timings so you don't get stuck in the heat waiting for something to open
- spend a weekend in/around Salalah and the Dhofar region of Oman, where it will only be in the low 30s and might even RAIN - it's the only part of the Gulf region exposed to monsoonal weather
posted by mdonley at 10:12 PM on April 26, 2014

Oh, and seconding Houstonian and Ruthless Bunny on linen especially. If you're not habitually crumpled/averse to ironing, investing in a few good linen suits is a great way to look seriously sharp in a business context whilst enjoying maximum comfort.

Caveat! The downside of a linen suit is that, paid insufficient regard and/or delivered of irregular pressings, you will BEST CASE SCENARIO look like you've pulled an heroic all-nighter. (In the case of an actual heroic all-nighter whilst wearing linen: expect to be rocking a distinctly soup kitchen and St Vincent De Paul couture vibe by morning. Linen being linen, this will inevitably leave a stronger, longer-lasting impression than any professional effort expended or virtue embodied.) In all seriousness, if your job involves potential overtime, linen or not, keep a change of freshly pressed trousers and at least two fresh shirts on hand at all times. Between bafflingly high temperatures and the average male body's contumacious dedication to sweat-as-panacea, sweat-as-first-responder to a vast array of unfamiliar and unwelcome stimuli - especially when outside one's comfort zone – ah well. If you're anything like me, there will be days you'd gladly trade intimate anatomy for a second fresh shirt.
posted by not the fingers, not the fingers at 10:19 PM on April 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I spent a week in Dubai last year during the summer months. The office I was working at was formal - suit the whole time. I thought I would be too hot, but they actually keep the offices very cool, and I kept my jacket on more than I thought I would.

As long as you don't spend a lot of time walking in the direct sunlight you'll be fine.
posted by kaefer at 12:15 AM on April 27, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everyone - I'm just back from my initial visit (Mumbai then Dubai) and can endorse the tech-fabric undergarment approach - I got some from Uniqlo as suggested and they seemed to help. Also, my time outside in direct sun was restricted, and the air conditioning in all buildings was impressively fierce!
posted by khites at 9:38 AM on May 19, 2014

« Older Sketching road trip from Vancouver BC to the...   |   Acoustic bass guitar in recorded music? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.