How to dress cool in hot weather

Bec Oakes 18 July 2022

Bec Oakes shows you how to have fun with fashion while staying cool during this summer's unprecedented hot weather

Great news: after another seemingly endless winter, summer is well and truly upon us. It’s time to stock up on Pimm’s, throw some sausages on the barbecue and push your jumpers and jackets to the back of your wardrobe. 

But while the sun is a welcome change from the frigid winter and spring showers, dressing for the summer heat can be challenging, especially when you want to still appear stylish. There are, however, a few reliable ways to dress for the heat and humidity. Have fun with fashion while staying cool with my summer style guide. 

Pick the right materials

To start, choosing the right materials is key. Feel the weight of the cloth; it should feel light. It’s a good sign if it’s slightly see-through when you hold it up to the light. However, just because a fabric is lightweight, it does not guarantee that it’s breathable. As a general rule, natural fibres tend to be more breathable, soaking up moisture from the skin and allowing it to evaporate from the outer surface. Opt for soft, lightweight cottons or linens, and avoid synthetics which don’t let your skin breathe as effectively. 

woman in linen trousers

Opt for light, breathable fabrics like linen or lightweight cottons

On top of this, consider the colours of the clothing you wear. The darker the fabric, the more light it will absorb and turn into heat. So, choose lighter tones which reflect, rather than absorb, the sun’s rays. 

Consider the airflow!

When it comes to dressing for summer, the goal is to create as much airflow as possible, allowing heat and moisture to escape, therefore keeping you cool. Stay away from tight clothing and instead loosen the silhouette of your outfit. Go for wide-leg linen trousers, oversized cotton shirts and flowing dresses, all of which offer you a little extra room to breathe. 

"Stay away from tight clothing and instead loosen the silhouette of your outfit"

Also on the topic of airflow, avoid tucking in your shirt wherever possible. It’s just like keeping the windows closed in a hot house, trapping in heat and moisture and restricting cooler air from entering through the hem’s opening. 

Don't be afraid to opt for long sleeves

Woman in all white summer outfit with long sleeves

Your instinct may be to avoid long sleeves, but sometimes they're perfect for your summer look

It may seem a little odd to say but consider wearing long sleeves as the temperature rises. There’s a common misconception that you have to bare all to stay comfortable in the heat but, while dressing minimally does allow you to release more internal body heat, your body can actually absorb more heat by being directly exposed to the sun.

"I tend to layer a white cotton shirt over all my summer ensembles"

Not only that, but it leaves you more vulnerable to sunburn. While suncream acts as a barrier to the harmful UV rays, it can often leave you feeling hotter—the smooth layer covering your skin allows sweat to form into larger droplets which don’t evaporate as easily. The stickiness of suncream on my skin is my least favourite feeling so I tend to layer a white cotton shirt over all my summer ensembles.  

Think about your feet

Finish every summer outfit with footwear that is equally breathable. Lightweight canvas trainers, such as Converse, worn with thin socks in temperature-regulating fabrics like merino are a great option for keeping your feet from overheating. Or you can opt for open-toed shoes like sandals or flip-flops—once again in natural fibres—which allow for optimum air circulation. 

Sandals

Open-toed shoes are great for maximum air flow

Top tips

Ditch the denim 

As one of the heaviest fabrics, denim can be incredibly uncomfortable to wear during the summer months. This is particularly true for skinny jeans which trap body heat and allow no air circulation whatsoever. Instead, look for loose trousers in lightweight cotton or linen. 

Avoid over-accessorising  

Dangling necklaces, bangles and scarves have a really bad habit of sticking to your skin when it’s hot, especially if you’re wearing suncream. It’s uncomfortable to say the least, so minimise your summer accessories and try picking those that will make a statement without making you sweat—for example, a large hoop earring

Rely on dresses 

Your summer hero piece is without a doubt the sundress. They’re incredibly versatile—a quick change from trainers to heeled sandals instantly transforms it from day to night. And, with loose, flowing silhouettes guaranteed to be on-trend every year, it’s the easiest way to stay both on-trend and breezy. 

Summer dress

Summer dresses are a season staple!

Dress smart this summer. Pick the right fabrics, colours and silhouettes. And stay cool, no matter how hot it gets! 

Read more: 9 Beauty products you need to try this summer

Read more: How to cool your home without air conditioning

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