It’s hot. Like, hitting 31C in some parts of Aotearoa hot. Many of us are also back at work and in ‘ease into it’ mode – and that extends to what you’re wearing. There’s no room for uncomfortable fits, non-breathable fabrics or complicated outfits at this time of January.

If you’re back at your desk in blessed air conditioning while looking at the high tide charts to plan your post work swim, you’ll need some versatile pieces to get you there as quick as possible – think of the old-school fashion trope of ‘day to night’, but instead desk to beach for some vitamin D and sand beneath your toes.

(And if you’re in the market for swimwear, see our recommendations here)

A matching set that’s basically a suit

A set is the easiest way to looking pulled together with minimal effort, and there are so many options around right now, at all price points. Yes, some may flirt with looking like pyjamas but PJ energy is what this time of year requires. Ruby’s geometric print oversized shirt and elasticised pants are cotton and cool, and work with a tank top for work and a bikini top for the beach.

Ruby cotton shirt, $219, and pants, $239

Ruby cotton shirt, $219, and pants, $239

A big tote to fit your laptop, togs and maybe a towel 

Yu Mei’s utility range features handy totes made from regenerated nylon – the type of bags that fit plenty, and aren’t overly precious that you’ll be too scared to dump it on sand or put in damp togs…

Yu Mei tote bag, $475

Yu Mei tote bag, $475

A cotton shirt

A white shirt is a wardrobe classic yadda yadda… They also really do work for most life occasions, whether you need it to be smart while at your desk or sun smart while outdoors. Wixii’s cotton poplin version is super light with a sweet cropped length, but it’s the pin pleating that makes it a standout.

Wixii cotton shirt, $195

Wixii cotton shirt, $195

A cotton shirt dress

Button it up for your 9-5 (no one will know what’s underneath), then use it as a chic sun protector for later. Penny Sage’s striped version is a perfect example of its versatility, featuring an internal drawstring so you can literally loosen up as you walk out the office door.

Penny Sage dress, $490

Penny Sage dress, $490

Hardworking breezy pants

Seersucker is to summer what wool is to winter. Lightweight and airy, it’s also very smart (it’s the stripes, akin to pinstripes but not as uptight) – like these baggy pants from Karen Walker, which look just as great with a shirt as they do your lightest singlet. 

Karen Walker pants, $445

Karen Walker pants, $445

A top with good ventilation

When you’d rather be wearing nothing – or next to nothing. Think broderie anglaise, eyelets, cut-outs or crochet; just chuck your favorite bikini underneath for later. 

Wynn Hamlyn crochet shirt, $425

Wynn Hamlyn crochet shirt, $425

Shorts

There has been some chatter about whether or not it’s appropriate to wear shorts to the office, to which the Ensemble verdict is: absolutely (who defines ‘appropriate’ anyway?). It does depend on your workplace of course – read the room – and some shorts feel more office appropriate than others, like those with longer lengths and more structured fabrics. Kowtow’s cotton canvas taupe shorts hit the knee, and have a comfy elastic waist, and are sort of like fancy Dickie’s.

Kowtow shorts, $160 (on sale)

Shop more shorts here

Kowtow shorts, $160 (on sale)

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