There’s a few things I’d like to get straight before embarking on this article.
Firstly, Summer is a bloody magical time. Everything seems better when you cast a hazy dappley sunshine glow over it. You can even find yourself sitting in a questionable park in Soho exclaiming ‘gosh isn’t London so BEAUTIFUL’ despite the fact that you are sitting about 10 metres from a heroin addict shooting up directly into their feet.*
*this was me this very lunchtime. Ain’t London grand.
Anyhow – there are so many things to love about summer in London. Drinking wine in beer gardens, drinking wine in parks, drinking wine in your friend’s gardens… you get the gist. Summer is great. No one is knocking it. The end.
Secondly, the advice in this article really only applies to that one intense week of sunshine we Brits can expect anywhere between April and August. That week where we all start believing that we might live on a tropical island and everyone getting on the tube looks like half blind lobsters blinking into the light, carting carrier bags of half eaten picnic food and shifting bag straps away from extremely sunburnt shoulders.
I am not referring to the rest of ‘summer’ where the weather can swing from Sahara desert to freezing rainstorm in a matter of minutes and we are all reduced to carrying ten billion layers about our persons and wildly shouting into the faces of our work colleagues ‘It’s so hard to get dressed in the morning! How do you get dressed in the morning!?!? HOW DO ANY OF US GET DRESSED IN THE MORNING????!!!’
Lastly I have written this article for my fellow awkward kids who find baring all their flesh intensely stressful. If you love wapping your legs/arms/belly button out then, by all means, do so. You are Beyonce – I salute you. Don’t take any heed of nonsense articles telling you how to ‘pull off a crop top if you’re not a size 8’ just do you.
ps: the simple answer to that is put on said crop top and walk out of the door with your middle finger in the air a la Mr Bean
If you sit more in my camp* however I have some useful ideas of how to dress for summer without having to be more naked than you’re ok with.
*’my camp’ btw is the camp of a person who once turned to their friend and asked if their outfit was a bit ‘risque’ whilst wearing a polo neck and midi skirt. So…yeah.
Anyway, let’s get on with it.
As I mentioned 10 years ago at the beginning of the article, I love everything about Summer. Well…almost everything. The small chubby spanner in the works is that whilst I love the sun, I hate having to dress for it.
I’m a winter clothes enthusiast. I love an opaque tight and a woollen skirt. I’ve got a worrying amount of roll necks in my wardrobe and mainly everything I own is black. I spend most of the year resembling a woolly Wednesday Adams and that suits me just fine.
Summer clothes are all well and good but if you’re anything like me they are fraught with hazard. From realising you’ve missed a patch of hair in the centre of your knee whilst shaving to your entire skirt blowing up at a bus stop in front of your tinder date that you’ve had yet to say hello to and then having him comment ‘guess you’re not planning on coming home with me tonight’ due to the sheer enormous size of your laundry pants – it’s just a bloody nightmare.
The following tips may not be revolutionary but they are practical and may help you navigate the summer months without resembling an extremely sweaty version of the ‘feed the birds’ lady from Mary Poppins: i.e. mad looking, flushed and wearing ten hundred weird layers.
Let your feet breathe
It’s an unfortunate side effect that in the summer your body transforms from a nice normal body to a huge sweating bloated beetroot.
I have a theory that the feet are the air vents of the soul and by letting them roam free in the summer months you can reduce sweating exponentially.
Don’t believe me? I once walked into my flat to find NSF splayed on the bed, soaking wet covered in a wet towel trying to cool herself down after she’d made a spectacularly poor choice to wear BOOTS to the office in July. FOOLISH.
Who doesn’t feel cooler after kicking off the hot sweaty prisons that are our shoes? Being barefoot is just about the only time I don’t feel hotter than the sun in the summer months so it’s imperative to mimic this with footwear choice. I’m talking open, breezy and, in the name of all that is holy, FLAT.
Now I’m not suggesting you wear flip flops* to work but there are some great, smart options out there that can work for office and pub in equal measures.
*I’m actually suggesting you burn any flip flops you may own as they are an evil second only to Satan’s personal favourite – crocs.
Here’s some good options for when your feet are yelling to be let out of their cages!
Invest in a good floaty outer layer
A rather large peril of summer dressing is the disparity between outside and inside.
I cannot be the only one who has merrily floated down the street feeling all Sienna Miller circa 2004 before entering the office and realising that I’ve actually come to work borderline naked.
There’s nothing like stepping under fluorescent lights and the stare of your fairly conservative MD to make you regret that slightly see through pencil dress, even if it is deliciously lightweight. ‘I care not!’ you had thought to yourself that morning with just woken up nonchalance ‘I care not if my thong is visible and if there’s a large amount of tit on display for I am about to battle the central line in 25 degree heat and I refuse to wear anything thicker than a hanky’.
This type of nonchalance immediately turns to paralysing terror when you have to give a presentation on marketing nonsense that might as well have just contained slides labelled ‘here are my nips – look at them!’
So, what do we do in this situation? Well I’ll tell you! Reach into your obligatory giant sack handbag of layers and pull out a floaty cover up designed to hide your nakedness but not make you boil and get a sweaty back of neck and thighs.
I used to think that if I wore big things people would mistake me for an elephant type animal and shoot me with a tranquiliser dart.
I bought into the Trinny and Susannah philosophy of ‘don’t add inches onto your frame with material’ and whilst I’m sure there is an element of truth in there I can’t tell you how much I largely just don’t give a shit.
There is literally no greater pleasure than swanning out your front door in something closely resembling a potato sack. NONE.
Also, if its voluminous enough you could almost trick people into thinking that you’re a secret supermodel underneath it whilst merrily tucking into doughnuts all summer. HUZZAH.
‘What about if someone has to see me naked’ I hear you cry. Mate by that time they have already been lured back to your lair and should be so lucky that you’ve deigned to remove your smock at all. Or just keep it on. Pretend it’s your thing or that you’ve sewn it to your skin for practicality reasons. I don’t know. Help.
Let your freak flag fly
It’s no secret that I have a slightly eclectic fashion sense.
There’s the Victorian child’s dress that makes me look like an extra from every horror film ever/ miss Havisham.
There’s the red fluffy coat that makes me look like Elmo that actually prompted my pal H to stage a ‘coati-vention’ a few weeks back.
There’s the pink floofy skirt that makes me look almost exactly like a toilet roll holder.
I like weird clothes and I’m not sorry.
I wasn’t sorry during the coati-vention, I wasn’t sorry when a guy I’ve been seeing basically told me my fave fur gilet was the worst item of clothing he had ever seen on a human. I’ll never be sorry.
The thing with summer is, you suddenly have way more of an excuse to dress like someone’s mad aunt (my personal style reference) because everyone is confused and hot and much more likely to wear something really off the wall down to the pub in an effort to keep cool.
So go full out – wear that bizarre little house on the prairie-esque dress you always put on and then take off. Shove on the wide brimmed hat of your dreams with pride! Buy something utterly bizarre like fluorescent jelly sandals or a leotard with pineapples on the nips. It’s summer! It’s acceptable!
And if it’s not just throw on your floaty outer layer like a pro.