I Grew Up In A Hot Country & This Is How I Dress To Keep Cool

Photographed by Poppy Thorpe.
The mercury in the UK has, once again, risen to unprecedented temperatures this summer, and aside from wondering how you can WFP (work from poolside, of course) all week long, the other question on everyone's minds is: how do you dress for a heatwave? While you might feel inclined to walk around in nothing but a swimsuit or throw a bucket of water over your head to mask the endless sweat stains (both options are completely understandable), I’m here to provide some tips that might actually be useful. 
Having grown up in Australia, dressing for temperatures 35 degrees and hotter on the reg, this heat is nothing new for me. I’ve spent many a night sleeping with a damp cloth on my face in an un-air-conditioned home. And a byproduct of that is the fact that dressing for hot weather is pretty much second nature to me. From strategically choosing your fabrics to investing in anti-chafe solutions, there's plenty you can do to make life a little cooler when the weather gets hotter. To paraphrase Reformation, being naked is the number one heatwave-friendly option — but for when you must be in public, think of the following list as your next best bet.

Know Your Fabrics

This might seem obvious but keeping cool in the summer months is seriously dependent on the kind of fabrics you are wearing. Steer clear of synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester as they tend to trap heat and instead opt for breathable, lightweight options such as linen, cotton and jersey.

Keep It Breezy

When it comes to silhouettes, the keyword — and I can’t emphasise this enough — is breezy. Anything form-fitting or clingy is just going to make you hotter so put that bodycon dress back in the closet for now. Trapeze maxis, tiered dresses and A-line skirts just became your best friend.

Steam Your Linen The Night Before

The idea of steaming linen, on a hot day, in a hot house, and then putting that hot fabric onto your body is genuinely the stuff of nightmares. If you’re organised enough (and diligent enough about getting creases out), steam your linen the night before — ideally with the window open as a gentle evening breeze blows through your house. If you’re lucky.

Invest In Anti-Chafe Products

I don’t know who needs to hear this (you) but investing in a pair of anti-chafe shorts to wear under dresses and skirts to avoid thigh chafing is a game-changer in the summer months. If you’re hesitant about adding another layer of fabric, an anti-friction stick is a smart alternative. Megababe’s Thigh Rescue, £8, is celebrated for stopping thigh chafe for good, according to hundreds of five-star reviews online.

Choose Colours Carefully

Now let's be clear: sweat is completely natural and nothing to be ashamed of. But when it comes to sweat stains, there are precautions you can take to mask them. While you might feel inclined to channel Joseph and his technicolour dream coat (i.e. embracing every shade of the rainbow when the sun shines), certain colours are far more forgiving than others. Lighter shades like pastel blue, pale pink or light grey will show those underarm and back stains more obviously; black, navy and white are safer options if you prefer to conceal the evidence.

Step Away From The Jorts

I love my jean shorts as much as the next girl, and it doesn't help that jorts are trendy right now. However, when it hits 30 degrees I always resist putting them on. It might seem like a good idea but in really hot weather, the tight waistband and thick denim fabric cladding your waist and legs will feel like you’ve wrapped yourself in a heated blanket. Opt for loose-fitting shorts in cotton or invest in a tailored linen pair. 

Beware Of What You Wear Down Under

Choosing the right kind of underwear is imperative in warmer weather, especially if you want to avoid the dreaded (and common) thrush. Briefs made from cotton will help to absorb moisture and heat, while synthetic fabrics won’t be nearly as breezy. Choose your knickers carefully. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Do The Gywneth Test

And finally, if all else fails, simply ask yourself: Would Gwyneth Paltrow have worn this during the Italy scenes in The Talented Mr Ripley? (Think short-sleeve shirts tied at the waist, strappy cotton dresses and voluminous skirts.) If the answer is yes, then you’re probably good to go.
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