DRESS SENSE FOR THE WEEK | WHICH WILL YOU BE COMFY IN, BE IT SUMMER OR WINTER?
It’s not easy to look chic and fresh when you’re in the middle of a summer meltdown. Some days the mere mention of the word ‘humidity’ can make your hair frizz, your make-up run and your clothes wrinkle.
Since most of us graduated from school when dinosaurs roamed, we don’t have the summer off. We have to go to the office, boutique, street corner or wherever we make our living all summer long. And we have to do it looking as put together as we do when we can wear that blue wool blazer that goes with everything.
If you need to stock up on items for your summer fashion first-aid kit, read on.
LOOSE CLOTHING Forget the “form-fitting” fashions. Retaining water is bad enough in the summer. Do you want to retain heat, too? Looser clothing are a better bet in the hottest months. It’s logical. The less fabric that actually touches your body the cooler you’ll feel. This doesn’t mean that you have to wear a muumuu everywhere you go but the wider the sleeves and legs the better. This season, I rediscovered the knee-length skirt. It’s very comfortable in my favorite summer fabrics — cotton or silk. Even with a little lycra in the cotton, my legs are much cooler than in pants. Of course, with a little stretchy lycra it fits better, too. Trust me, skirts are cooler. Why do you think the guy in kilts is smiling?
THE LAYERED LOOK How do you dress when it’s chilly in the morning and blazing in the afternoon? Or when it’s hot outside but there’s icicles hanging off the office air-conditioner. You dress in layers. You probably only have one or two sweaters and they probably don’t match very much in your closet. Rest assured. You can layer in style if you stick to your three basic colors and use every light jacket and Big Shirt that you possess. Twin sets are an excellent solution here. When the temperature blows hot and cold. You’ll be ready.
SLEEVELESS Sleeveless has been a fashion trend for years, even on brides. For all this time I have avoided going sleeveless. My arms will never be buff again. But having the pleasure of living in the hot, humid Florida summer, you gotta make a decision: I will wear sleeveless!! It’s a more flattering look than short sleeves, which tend to hit at bust level. If you’re a woman of a certain age, short sleeves can make you look matronly.
If you’re uncomfortable going sleeveless or if it’s wrong for your workplace, then go with three-quarter length sleeves. They’re classy and still cooler.
STOCKINGS If you grew up before pantyhose, you’ll remember girdles, garter belts and hosiery. One of the best things about women’s lib was burning it all! I love baring my legs to the breezes! In Europe and some extra-trendy U.S. circles, pantyhose are never worn, even in winter. (They don’t shave their underarms either. That trendy I’ll never get.) Many offices have relaxed the “no hose” policy. If you worry about pale legs, and are smart enough not to bake in the sun then get one of the many self-tanners out on the market. (See Skincare below.)
FABRICS Synthetics, like polyester and rayon, do not breathe. Natural fabrics do. Think cotton, linen and silk. Of course, these are the ones that need the most ironing. Go with it. It’s a time-honored trend! The wrinkled look! It’s comfortable, casual (which summer fashion is all about) and you’ll feel so much cooler. Besides, I love having more wrinkles on my clothes than on my face! Remember that most linings are made of synthetic fabrics. So, go for unlined fashions. I guarantee your body will be less glistening by the end of the day.
HATS You can learn a thing or two from the southern belles in Gone with the Wind. First, never marry a man named Rhett. Second, wear a hat! The bigger the brim the better. Straw hats or baseball caps work the best. The idea is to keep the sun out of your eyes and off your face. Choose a hat that accentuates your outfit and mood. Are you feeling classy, trashy or fun?
SCARVES AND JEWELRY Wear less jewelry in the summer. Metal gets hot! It’s psychological, too. The less you wear, the cooler you’ll feel. Try using accessories to give your wardrobe a more put together look when you’re wearing lighter clothes.
SKINCARE To tan or not to tan. The answer? Not. Skin cancer is on the increase in women in their teens and twenties. Use a sunblock with an SPF factor of 15 or higher and that blocks the harmful UVA and UVB rays. The Aussies have a saying – Slip! Slap! Slop! In English, that means to always slip on a shirt, slap on a hat and slop on some sun screen. Just do it. Most cosmetics companies have sunblocks in almost all of their product lines. Find the one and use it. If you don’t want to look like a beached grouper all summer, try one of the self-tanners out on the market. Some don’t even turn you orange anymore!
You might also have to change your skincare routine. Even skin that gets dry in winter can get a little oily in the summer. If your moisturizer becomes too much in the summer, adjust it with a lighter one until fall.
MAKE-UP Full face make-up is not in style any more (no matter what your age). It prevents your skin from breathing! And in the summer who wants caked make-up running down their face? Use a tinted moisturizer rather than a regular foundation. It will even out your skin tone and is so much lighter. If you want to wear foundation, use a non-mattifying make-up. It’s less oily and keeps your face fresh. Wear as little powder as possible. Try just using it in the “t-zone” that might get a little oily.
FRAGRANCE Keep your summer fragrance light and fresh. A cologne or toilet water spray with some of the new aromatherapy scents is perfect. You can always go back to your regular or a heavier perfume at first frost.
HAIR If it’s time for a new look, cut it shorter and see how much cooler you’ll feel! If you don’t want to cut it, wear it up off your neck and off your face. Even tucking it behind your ears makes your head feel cooler! Warning: Hair grows faster in the summer. So, you’ll have to keep on top of your roots.
The hair under your arms, on your legs and even your chin grows faster in summer. Whether you shave, wax or use a weed whacker, you’ll have to do it more often.
(Hint: Take your favorite pain reliever before a bikini wax. You’ll be glad you did.)
EXERCISE If you exercise outside, then do it early in the morning or just before sunset (or switch to an inside activity when the sidewalks are melting). Wear clothing that is light and loose on sweltering days. Don’t wear cotton. It soaks up the sweat and clings to you. Choose clothing made of special fabrics that “wick” the water away from your skin. It’ll help you feel cooler. And wear visors or specially designed sports hats to block the sun. A regular hat or baseball cap will keep in the heat.
QUICK HEALTH TIPS Drink lots of water. Consume less caffeine and alcohol. Eat more salads and seasonal fruits and less fatty foods. Carry a little battery-powered fan. They come in very handy for summer heat, hot flashes and cooling off a plate of nachos. Carry a water bottle for drinking and a spray bottle for misting. Move slowly. Stay calm. Meditate. Go to the beach … and take me with you!