How to Dress for Unseasonably Warm Weather

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When it comes to that brutal combo of sky-high temperatures and humidity, one thing is for certain: Dressing stylishly is no easy feat. Blazing temps present us with style challenges, but we’re here to tell you that it is possible to still look stylish when it’s hot as hell out. The key is to choose the right fabrics, colors and cuts to keep you feeling cool and comfortable all day long.

Maybe you’re packing for an island getaway, maybe you need some office-appropriate solutions for those dog days of summer or maybe you just need some casual looks for running those everyday errands. Regardless, don’t stress. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about dressing when it’s unseasonably warm out there.

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Lighten Up…

This probably goes without saying, but clothing that is lightweight is ideal for those super hot days. Heavy fabric impedes air circulation, thus causing you to overheat faster. We all know that a sleeveless shirt will keep you cooler than a long-sleeve shirt, and shorts are going to be more practical than pants, but which textiles are the lightest? Linen is about as lightweight as it gets, which is why it’s such a popular fabric for summer garments. Seersucker is another lightweight fabric and has a classic yet stylish appearance that’s perfect for summer parties and weddings. We love the look of a seersucker blazer or seersucker shorts paired with a flattering blouse, which are always in style but sure to keep you cool as a cucumber.

Any garment with finer threads is going to be more breathable. More importantly, you’ll want to look for fabric with a loose weave. A tight weave not only holds air in but also traps moisture. As a general rule, natural materials like cotton, linen, and chambray are best at wicking moisture away. Certain synthetic materials such as polyester or nylon blends are ultra-breathable as well, which is why a lot of workout apparel is made with sweat-wicking fabrics. When you see words like “quick dry” or “performance” on the tags of men’s polo shirts or women’s dresses, you’ll know that they’re made to offer maximum breathability. There are even performance men’s button-downs that are made with rapid-drying technology and natural cooling minerals which are helpful on those brutal summer afternoons.

Breathability is an important factor when it comes to choosing the proper summer footwear, too. You might notice that many loafers and boat shoes are outfitted with tiny holes in them, and the purpose of those holes is to increase ventilation. When it comes to letting your feet breathe despite the heat, you can’t beat a pair of canvas or leather flip-flops.

…And Loosen Up

The reality is, clingy clothing doesn’t allow for much ventilation, so it’s not the best choice when the thermometer hits 90. Summer is a great time to go for a slightly more relaxed fit. Looser shorts and roomier skirts allow for more airflow, which can help you to stay comfortable. Also, midi dresses for women that have a flowy fit are perfect for days when you want to look chic.


Don’t Skimp on Sun Protection

You may put on sunscreen every day, but did you know that there are other measures you can take to protect yourself from harmful UV rays? Look for clothing that offers UV protection. By wearing these high-tech garments, you won’t have to stress about getting pesky sunburn midday. Make sure that you’re still applying sunscreen on areas where your skin isn’t covered by clothing, such as your face, hands and feet (nobody wants a farmer’s tan!)

Ditch the Dark Hues

There’s a good chance you’ve heard that it’s a bad idea to wear black when it’s blazing hot out—and there’s a good reason for this advice: black absorbs more light, meaning you’re bound to feel hotter when you’re wearing it on a bright, sunny day. This rule doesn’t just apply to black. Very deep shades of brown, purple and green can have the same effect. Instead, opt for light colors, like white, beige, pale gray and pastels, which will reflect the sunlight instead of absorbing it, thus retaining less heat. Luckily, spring and summer are the perfect time to wear hues that match the mood of the season. So go ahead and embrace those lighter and brighter shades of powder blue, coral, pink, yellow, lavender and mint. Not only will you feel cooler regardless of the temperature, you’ll also stand out at that cool new brewery that just opened up.

Just because the temperatures are sky-high doesn’t mean you have to compromise your personal style. Be sure to keep these tips in mind while picking out your summer outfits so you can look—and feel—cool.

Images by Christine Lutz for Design SCENE