Our recent heatwave in Seattle was the catalyst for this topic. Seattle Summers aren’t usually hot (although that might be changing), but I grew up in a hot climate that was both humid and dry. Temperatures between 28 and 35 degrees Celsius (or 82 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit) are very familiar to me. I generally feel comforted and comfortable in the heat: 30 degrees Celsius with some humidity is my sweet spot. 

I’ve learned that dressing in the heat is mainly about two things: (1) wearing specific wardrobe items, and (2) adapting your grooming regimen. They go a long way towards making you look and feel cool, calm and collected when it’s hot. Note that these dressing strategies do not work when you spend the day in arctic air conditioning. That requires a different approach that we’ll cover later.

Wardrobe Items

Wear Natural Fibres: It’s common knowledge that one should stick to clothing in silk, linen and cotton fabrications as far as possible. Unfortunately they crease quite badly and you have to be at peace with that. Finding clothing that is rich in natural fibres is another way to go (think blends). Easier to launder, less wrinkly, and cheaper too.

Keep Silhouettes Loose & Lightweight: Form-fitting silhouettes in substantial fabrications create traditionally flattering proportions, but they aren’t ventilating. Fluid and oversized fits are especially great in hot weather because they provide natural ventilation. In scorching temperatures it’s a wonderful feeling when the breeze fills out your billowing silk, linen or cotton blouse. 

Wear Dresses, Skirts & Shorts: There is nothing breezier than a loose-fitting dress in a natural fibre. Flared skirts will also do the trick. Shorts, culottes, clamdiggers and cropped pants are breezier than full-length pants and jeans. 

Go Sleeveless: Sleeves can get damp in ultra humid weather, which makes you feel less than fab. Sleeveless can be the answer, but beware of exposure to the sun.

Cover Up with Breezy Fabrics: If it’s a dry heat, then there’s something to be said for covering up your arms and part of your legs with natural fibres. Personally, I like to wear a very lightweight and loose sleeved silk, cotton or linen top because the coverage protects me from the sun. It’s no coincidence that in many of the hottest countries in the world, people cover up in this way. 

Wear Open Footwear: Feeling the breeze on your feet can go a long way to keeping the rest of you cool, which makes sandals a popular choice for hot days. You needn’t expose your entire foot if that’s not your cup of tea. Sandals can have covered toe boxes and open heels. Sandals can also have open toes and a closed heeled. Closed footwear, like oxfords and loafers, can be perforated with holes for extra ventilation. 

Wear Second Base Camisoles: If you need to wear a camisole under a top in hot weather, choose a Second Base camisole. They are made of an eco-friendly modal and spandex blend that’s extremely soft and lightweight. You can’t even feel that you’re wearing the cami, it’s THAT ventilating and unobtrusive.

Sport a Hat: Hats are by far the best way to keep the sun off your face. Straw or floppy cotton hats with wide brims tend to offer the most coverage in the breeziest way. Baseball caps and cowboy hats are another way to go. I wear a straw cowboy hat when I take our Yorkie Sam on sunny walks. It’s ventilating and does the trick.

Grooming Regimen

Adapt Your Hairstyle: Summer hair can have a mind of its own. So adapting your hairstyle to hot weather can be very effective, especially if your Summers are humid. That might mean cutting it, growing it, leaving it curly, tying it back into a fun style, leaving it flat, slicking it back with gel, adding some colour, or using a different range of hair products. You’ll feel better about your overall appearance when you’re having a good hair day. 

Change Your Skincare Routine: Our skin also has a mind of its own in the Summer time. If you have combination or oily skin, you might want to swap out your products when it’s humid. Or add extra moisturizer, serums and hydrating products to dry skin in hot dry weather. 

Touch Up Your Make-Up: Carry a make-up bag in your handbag, especially if you work in an office and travel with public transport. Touching up is worth the effort if you’re feeling hot and flushed after a morning’s commute, or racing around on your lunch break. It’s also worth touching up at home after the heat has melted or smudged your make-up. That way when you catch your reflection in the mirror, you’ll look refreshed and feel better about your Summer style. 

Take Multiple Showers: Coming home from a hot commute and need to go out again at night? Start again by having a quick shower before you put on a fresh set of clothes. Do the same if you’re feeling hot and bothered at home. 

Have Regular Pedicures: Keep your feet well groomed during the Summer months and you’ll be completely comfortable when you expose your bare feet, be it at home, swimming, in yoga class, or simply by wearing sandals. There is something about seeing my own pedicured feet that makes me feel more polished about my Summer style. 

Use Body Glide: I can’t stress this one enough: USE BODY GLIDE. The anti-chafing balm works wonders on your feet. I rub it quite liberally on the areas of my feet that are blister prone and pop on my shoes as usual. It doesn’t feel sticky at all. In fact, I can barely feel the balm on my skin. You can also apply it to the inside of your thighs, the underside of your arms, and to areas underneath your bra that tend to chafe in the heat.

Wear Suncreen: You’ve heard this over and over again. Apply sunscreen to your face, neck, hands, arms and feet daily. These are the parts of your body that are most exposed to the sun. 

It was hot here last Sunday (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and I could keep my outfit casual because I wasn’t seeing clients. I wore an unstructured linen shirt dress, finishing off the outfit with flat white sandals, pearls and citron clutch. I also wore a white cotton camisole under the dress just because I enjoy the fabric against my skin — and somehow it also keeps me cool. I was very comfortable in what I think is a practical and pretty hot weather outfit. Here are the exact items:

I’ll add that, ironically, hot tea cools me down on a hot day. I also enjoy cold fruit and iced tea (without the ice.) An air-conditioned car is excellent when your car stands uncovered in the sun like mine does, and I shan’t say no to extra gelato. How do you stay cool in hot weather? Please add your own tips in the comments below.