This morning I woke up, and it was already in the upper 80′s. I don’t have air conditioning, so it’s not a pretty picture! I so live by the ocean, however, where a typical summer has maybe 4 or 5 days (at the most) when it’s unbearably hot. This year is already different and it’s only July!
One look at my schedule told me I couldn’t just stay home and wear my pretty teal sundress around the house. I was meeting a client at Denise Hajjar’s (a Boston designer) to choose the fabric for her wedding gown. It’s not a pretty picture getting dressed when the temperatures and the humidity soar (unless you are sequestered away in an air conditioned home). Believe me, nothing feels good when you are hot and sticky.
Everything I considered in my closet felt stifling. Lined pants…nope. A lined jacket…definitely not. A long sleeved jacket…forget it. I was running out of options fast. What’s left? A dress? Well, hmmm…that presents a whole other host of considerations.
I wear pants most of the time so very few people have seen me in a dress. It’s not because I don’t like dresses. I do. It’s the whole redhead, white, freckly leg thing. It means putting on stockings, and I prefer to avoid that whenever possible.
That said, I realized that a pair of stockings (toe-less so I could wear peep-toe slingbacks) was far preferable to pants and a jacket. So, I put on my simple Joseph Ribkoff dress, pretty jewelry, grabbed a cardigan in case I needed it and headed out. I got a compliment right away heading into the bank on my way into Boston. The best part was that I felt summery and unencumbered (even wearing stockings!).
So, what are a few tips for dressing well when you have to be out in the heat?
- Dress in layers. That way you can be cool walking around outside (or sitting in your car waiting for the air conditioning to cool it down) but look and feel professional at the office.
- Skim your body. Wearing clothes that are too tight will only add to the discomfort factor. Wear clothes that skim your body, show your shape without being glued to your skin. (This is good advice no matter what season it is!)
- Choose your fabrics wisely. Cotton and linen are great for cool dressing in the summer. But, some of you have a great aversion to linen (and, I know some of you love it). In general, linen looks best when it is lined (which might make it less appealing on a hot day) or when it is blended with another fabric to help control the wrinkle-factor. Cotton is great, but again, it’s often best when mixed with another fabric to help it hold its shape. The simple jersey microfiber dresses are fabulous and virtually wrinkle-proof.
- Lighten up your colors. Dark colors absorb the heat, so wearing lighter or brighter colors can help make you feel cool both literally and on an emotional level – because they are cheerier than dark colors on a bright, summer day.
- Sleeve length. 3/4 length sleeves are your friend. Somehow just baring that bit of forearm feels so much cooler than longer sleeves and yet still has a professional feel. (Beware of cap sleeves. While they are everywhere they actually flatter very few arms!)
- Summer legs. Okay, this is a topic many want to avoid and some will vehemently want to disagree. If you work in a conservative field and wear a dress or skirt, yes, stockings are important. They add a sense of professionalism, refinement and decorum. Save bare legs for more casual situations. You don’t have to wear pantyhose, however, thigh highs work wonders and they do make toeless panty hose that are fabulous.
If you want to know 10 styles to avoid, check out this month’s seminar on July 20 for those of you in the Boston area. (http://www.totalimageconsultants.com/events.shtml#unflattering)