What would you consider an essential garment for summer? I’m going to try to build a Common Wardrobe for warm weather, and since this one will NOT be based on my observations of real people, I’m open to suggestions and ideas. Please leave a comment…
For me it would be a solid color maxi skirt. It is a staple item in my summer wardrobe.
For me it is a cotton cardigan. I live in them in the summer. I'm in South Africa and I try to stick to natural fibers and keep my shoulders covered to prevent sunburn. Also, sandals.
I am retired so my wardrobe needs differ from anyone working. But, aside from my bathing suit, flip-flops, t-shirts and shorts, I find that I rely on capris, in black and khaki. Good for everyday errands but also can be dressed up.
Really good sandals. I read about a year ago that 25% of the sweat glands in your entire body are contained in your feet, so if your feet are too closed up during the summer, you're going to be miserable, no matter what else you're wearing to the north of them. So I bought a pair of Jack Rogers Navajos (just like Jacqueline Kennedy), and it's true. It makes a huge difference.
As for actual, literal garments, I get the most wear out of a pair of black twill pants cut just a few inches above the ankle.
This year, I hope to find the perfect dark wash denim pencil skirt. I have a feeling that might be an "essential."
For me, it's an A-line knee-length skirt! Since I moved "down south" (from NYC to DC), I find that it's the coolest thing in a hot, muggy summer. (Much cooler – and more flattering – than capris!) I tend to wear them in cotton jersey (I just got a striped/chevron one from Land's End I'm excited about for the coming summer) but they're also lovely in linen. I also tend to gravitate to white, short-sleeved blouses as a dressier option to a T-shirt. Finally, I have a Calvin Klein dress – jersey, v-neck, sleeveless, pleated full skirt – that I wear a couple of times a week during the summer! I love it!
My over-ten-year-old Eileen Fisher black linen dress. Sleeveless, sweeping, bias cut. And a veteran of many trips to Paris! SS in SLC
A variety of EF linen cardigans. Discovered them a few years ago, and they go everywhere with me to keep the chill of air conditioning at bay, and just to pull things together. As an aside, I think I envy your life…. with working in an exciting city with walking distance to the symphony!
My summer staple would be a white pair of jeans and a fabulous pair of sandals (I couldn't keep it to just one). I'm hoping to purchase a pair of Roger Vivier sandals this summer.
A long sleeved or bracelet length unlined poly cotton jacket. Like the no-iron aspect, keeps looking fresh and I have gone back to the old fashioned ways of sun protection and don't wear sunscreen. However, I live in an area with very steamy summers, so the jacket should be very lightweight, structured and not shrunken.
And a hat with a brim, of course.
Oh, and a woven cotton dress that is a little loose all over – no waist fit. But in a cool looking color or a snappy print so it looks like you made an effort.
In that building? in summer? Sweaters! They definitely will be keeping it too cold!
Aesthetic Alterations says
A sleeveless wrap or shift dress.
For me, long sleeved but very light-weight tunic tops, dresses and cover-ups that provide good coverage from the sun for my pale skin.
And wide-brimmed hats.
I posted on the "cobalt" entry….long story short: not a garment, but a fabric. Linen.
Summer in Atlantic Canada is like Maine – maybe a bit cooler. Black and beige cropped dress pants, black and beige casual capris, black and beige knee length shorts, LLBean tee shirts with matching tee shirt material cardigans, denim blue linen short sleeved shirtwaist dress (over 10 years old – has been shortened once!), Naot sandals – great for walking and if the insoles wear they can be replaced, silk dress and linen jacket for weddings. graduations, etc, are some of my summer clothes. I also bought the black denim skirt last summer – wore it more than I thought I would and it travelled really well.
White washed linen cropped pants
With a light-colored linen blazer, a cotton wrap dress and ballerina flats I feel ready to go anywhere.
Love your blog
Slim fit cotton ankle pants – I usually get from Talbots. But in NC, I wear a lot of dresses – a knit faux-wrap sleeveless is a nice option for work for me. Goes great with that necessary cardigan, as the office will be too cold….
Cotton pants and capris in tan, navy and black and non-clingy tops.
I second you!
City shorts (bermudas) with blazers, linen trousers, cotton cardigans and ballet flats.
I live in central Texas, so it's very hot and sunny for months. Light colored, light weight, loose fitting dresses with short or cap sleeves. The fabric need to be just thick enough not to need a slip, if not, a cotton slip. Sandals & a nice sweater to put on inside.
In Italy, I admired the many flowing white cotton (my choice would be a carefree blend) or linen skirts. Roberto Cavalli's Cotton Eyelet Maxi is an example but there are many others at all price levels, lengths, cuts and fabrics. White skirts were paired with loosely fitted blouses in white, winter white or beige. Scarves or shawls were used for a splash of color and to ward off the cold in chilly places (of which there were few).
The flowing Italian skirts were more casual than dressy. A white pencil skirt would be stunning for the office (love Moschino White Cotton Pencil Skirt).
My staple? Ultra light-weight'Chinos' made by Ex-Officio. Can't survive the steamy US summers without them. :) They take on even the hottest days and I'm comfortable wearing them places I wouldn't dream of wearing shorts. I'm thinking of giving them some competition with a white skirt.
In the Adriatic part of Europe, my summer essentials are a knee-length, flowy dark skirt, neutral sleeveless tops and long, off-white linen trousers.
It's over 100 degrees here so for work I rely on lightweight skirts and sleeveless dresses (never pencil skirts in the summer, too sweaty). If you wear a dress or skirt you look dressed up for work which is nice. And always sandals.
Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) says
Simple summer dresses that keep me cool in Virginia's miserable heat and humidity.
hostess of the humble bungalow says
A great wrap dress possibly a DVF in a flattering colour or small print.
One that allows for the addition of a scarf or hat or necklaces.
even in Texas where the summers can be horrendous – you'll be smart to carry a lightweight cardigan or jacket – the A/C is almost always too cold in offices buildings and restaurants
We had the wettest Summer for a hundred years last year ! No need for a special summer wardrobe unfortunately. My essentials are white jeans with a black top and black linen trousers with white shirts. Hermes scarf and cashmere cardigan too.
I live in northeast Texas. Like another commenter said, it is hot, sunny and HUMID for months. I have a few personal preferences that I keep in mind when choosing summer clothing. I prefer to wear some sort of sleeve over going sleeveless because I think it looks a little nicer and to keep the sun off of my skin. I do wear lightweight jackets and cardigans a lot with sleeveless blouses. In general, I like dressier short or 3/4-sleeve blouses in woven fabrics over knits because they absorb perspiration and breathe better, but they can be very hard to find. I also do not like wearing shorts or capri pants; instead, I like wide-legged "sailor-style" pants in lightweight fabrics like cotton and linen. A-line and long, flowy skirts are excellent for staying cool. For dresses, I choose princess-seamed styles so that there is some waist definition for my hourglass figure. For shoes, I wear strappy sandals and wedges most of the time. I work in a Business Casual office, so I still like to look professional. I try to create warmer weather versions of suit-like outfits but it can be challenging.
Sandals! Ones for work and ones for casual walking.
Ankle-length pants in neutral colors with enough cotton for cool and enough spandex for easy care and fit. Comfortable walking sandals. And long linen or cotton scarves over 3/4 length sleeve tees to give the impression that I'm dressed for work.
Madame Là-bas says
I have a light brown skirt by Neon Buddha that I wear a lot in the summer. It is a cotton knit with ruching and is very cool and comfortable. They sell Neon Buddha now on the B.C. ferries and it is a Canadian company. The clothes are being sold in Arizona and California aimed at the retirement casual market. It might be too comfortable/casual for Europe.
Since I'm retired I don't need to think about the office. For hot humid summers in Toronto I like full length straight-leg linen pants, 3/4 sleeve linen or seersucker shirts. Comfortable casual sandals are a must for city walking. Colours are bright, I'm indulging after years of dark dark dark for work.
A navy blazer.
An A-line linen skirt, long enough to keep the sun of of me. I've lived my whole life in the South where it's just too hot and muggy to wear pants in the summer.
I have a white boatneck seersucker sheath dress. It's 10+ years old now and I still feel perfectly dressed whenever I wear it.
I need a plain linen dress in a neutral colour. My favourite one at present is a dark brown shift dress, sleeveless and length to mid-knee.
Sue Walker says
I'm looking for a dark brown shift dress! May I ask where you bought yours?
i have a natural (like a stone color) linen cardigan that is a daily staple for me. goes with any color.
Julia Karr says
Summer seems so far away! This will be my first "retired" summer, so I'm not really sure what my go-to and/or must-have will be. Although, I love skirts and cotton sleeveless button-up shirts. And a good gardening hat!
When the heat is over 27 degrees Celsius and humid, simple cotton or linen loose dresses/skirts, earrings and necklaces. Sadly, I find that a scarf is too hot. Definitely sun hat and glasses. Open sandals with varying heel heights. Colours-happy colours and neutrals such as cream,ivory,white and taupe in the most lightest natural fabric possible to find.
Thanks for all your work. It is most appreciated.
Knee-length stretch denim dark wash gored skirt. (Say that fast three times!)
A skirt, not tight, not too short with some movement to it. Weight will depend on how much they chill your building. Pants just kill you during the commute and why not enjoy your legs while you can? (I love summer dresses but if you're going for 'essential" the skirt is more versatile.
loose tops, not see=through (not easy to find!)
Renee @ AddMoreChocolate says
Oh thank you, thank you! Here in TX, we are already having 70 degree days!
I'd like to see skirts, cool dresses that don't look sloppy. I prefer to wear jackets rather than exercise my 2nd Amendment rights (No bare arms!)
Ankle pants look neater than capris (IMHO… crops are for harvesting, not wearing)
Would you perhaps consider putting together a Common Vacation Wardrobe? A few staples to throw in a bag for a trip away, to be brightened and accessorized in different ways?
Looking forward to whatever you come up with. It will be great!
Summers here in San Joaquin Valley are hot.My retired lifestyle requires cotton
tops and capri or bermuda shorts.Sandals of course.I love bright, happy summer colors.
Love all the ideas so far. Can't wait to see what you come up with! I'm wondering will it also be a great wardrobe for warm weather travels? It would be nice to add a couple items and have an instant resort wardrobe. :-)
Maxi dress and espadrilles, over sized silk T shirts with a denim pencil skirt, linen pants, sandals.
Marilyn Leslie says
I love dresses and skirts for the summer along with a shawl for the air conditioned buildings.
Short sleeved shirts
White cotton cardigan
White cotton skirt
Khaki clam diggers (below the knee, but not as long as a Capri for my short legs)
An A-line skirt, a sleeveless top that's not clingy (clingy = sweaty in my area) and nice sandals…
My vote would be a sleeveless cotton knee length dress in a good quality fabric (not too clingy or flimsy with some weight) that can be dressed up or down (e.g. with a cardigan to the office or as is for a picnic in the park). A solid colour would be best for versatility (e.g. black, navy, red, etc….whatever works best with one's hair and skin tone).
La Belle Demimondaine says
A pair of shorts that can be dressed up or down. I live in Atlanta, with frequent trips to Florida to visit family and sometimes… ya gotta have shorts.
A knee-length A-line (or similarly not tight–mine is more of a bubble shape) skirt
Comfortable sandals (I have a pair from Nisolo that are perfect)
Kay dancingbrushpainting.blogspot.com says
For us here in the Pacific Northwest it's a sweater!
Really awesome sunglasses and an easy to pack / wear sun hat. I'm out and about a lot between offices and get burned easy. I'm in NZ and you can get burnt here in less than 10 mins on a really hot day.
I love dresses in the summer, but I find them difficult to style beyond a cardigan, sandals and a necklace.
Since I work in office, in summer I usually wear white or neutral coloured skirts with tops with civered shoulders. Sometimes white pants and tunics, sometimes dresses with straps with cotton cardigans.
I meant "covered shoulders", of course.
Sue Walker says
I love my long, loose linen trousers in summer. I'm looking out for more summery tops though – especially ones that aren't too strappy! I would also love to find an A-line skirt that isn't too long – please help!
A few essentials—Eileen Fisher foldover waist maxi skirt, interesting white blouse, interesting white tee, linen cardigans, silver jewelry, wedge sandals, and PAINTED TOES! Still seeking the perfect summer dress which would include a small colorful pattern, a natural fabric, a below-knee hemline, and a little flow! No pants, capris, or shorts for me…when it's miserably hot, I can't stand things around my waist.
White cotton V neck T shirts…lots of them!
Several lovely, somewhat more 'flowy' blouses that can be worn transitionally from Spring into Summer. These should be able to be worn with both pants and skirts. Also, a few very versatile dresses, preferably packable. I imagine these to be knit of high quality, and could worn simply with sandals, or made office/function appropriate with a blazer or sweater. Finally, large scarves and wraps. So many places are overly air conditioned that these are essential when moving from the heat of outdoors to the inside refrigerators!
Here in freezing wet England we dream of summer in capri pants, oversized linen shirts (with sleeves you can roll up or down)over a sleeveless vest and moccasins – open toes not so good for mud!
Love the blog- literally changed the way I feel about me and my wardrobe
Versatile knit pieces that can go from travel, to strolling through a seaside town to office with a change of accessories. The tailoring that feels so 'right' in winter, just feels uncomfortable in summer.
New England summers range from hot and humid to cool and breezy, sometimes in the same day. In addition I work in a very casual office, so my go-to summer items are Capri pants in neutral colors and a light weight khaki jacket (I think a previous poster described it perfectly!). Also a light weight cardigan in a pretty color (mine is teal). It goes with everything else (neutrals), and keeps the AC chill at bay. I'm finding that as I "mature" I prefer camp (button) shirts to knit tee shirts.
Short sleeved black cardigan–can be put on in freezing air conditioning and rolled up and put in the purse or briefcase outside. Also a long button down sleeveless cardigan over a tank top–looks very polished.
A wide brimmed woven straw hat, good sunblock, especially for face and hands, a white cotton shirt (long-sleeves that can be rolled up), and cotton cardigans for temp. changes for office and other overly chilled buildings.
Fly Away Home says
Stunning sandals. They give casual outfits a kick. They pair perfectly with work attire and summer formal wear.
White pants, in linen, cotton or white denim jeans. Actually for summer in Florida, white is my new black.
Peasant tops/Tory-Burch style tunics in linen, cotton-voile or crinkle gauze, maybe light silks?
A good sandal-the day I can find a cool 2" block heel strappy metallic sandal in a size 11 I'm buying multiple pairs, for sure.
And certainly no sweaty poly/nylon fabrics.
White jeans, please!
For office life, I bought a seersucker pencil skirt from JCrew last year and surprised even myself with how much I wore it (and how versatile it was). And I don't even live in the South! I did well with short-sleeve no-iron button-fronts from Brooks Brothers, too. I do always carry a thin merino cardigan, though, because I freeze indoors.
Simple, go anywhere dresses. I love my lightweight summer skirts, but for a really hot day nothing beats a dress for staying cool. The cardigan/jacket for A/C is a must for me in summer, no matter what I'm wearing.
SO happy you are doing a warm weather one! I am from Chicago, but now live in southern Florida, which is a whole different animal. My main comment is that warm weather does not always mean "vacation clothes". We go to work, to church, to board meetings, cocktail parties, charity events, play golf, etc. So a wardrobe of all capris, shorts, tees, and bathing suits doesn't work. And it is often 80 to 95 degrees with high humidity. That said, I agree with the comments about needing light wraps because places are often over air conditioned. And Iinen is often too wrinkly and tough to maintain. And good-looking sandals (both flat and heels) are a must! Looking forward to your post!!
I'm in Adelaide, Australia, where summer is fierce sun and dry heat up to 45C/113F. My summer clothes are mostly linen pants (can't wear skirts in hot weather, my legs chafe) and cotton tunics.
Cotton woven blouses, no synthetics, no layering, no knits! Linen and silk blends are often lovely too.
Bermuda length, natural fibre shorts or tailored capris.
Fabulous sandals or espadrilles.
Interesting, fabulous skirts, in natural fibers with a bit of movement or drape, sarong style a la Alfred shaheen, bias cut, circular ruffles.
Black slim trousers
Colorful twin set
White sleeveless top
Colorful ballet flats
Rinna Pitsiunelma says
Definitely my summer staple would be a simple linen dress, in which I could spend the entire summer. With a cotton cardigan, neat shoes and a stylish handbag it's work-OK, and with a straw hat, big wicker basket and sandals it's all holiday and beach fun.
Essential for me are very simple dresses–sleeveless with the possibility of a wrap for air conditioned buildings. I have especially enjoyed EF dresses in viscose jersey. They travel well, are comfortable and can be dressed up or down. I would love an easy to wear skirt and tops that are breezy. I live in hot hot Texas.
I work in Tokyo, so I have to look modest while staying cool. For me that means a black linen pencil skirt and t-shirts from Muji (they're extra lightweight and have a very nice ballet neck). Paired with cotton flats (and a lovely handkerchief) I stay comfortable even when walking from meeting to meeting!
At the peak of summer for the office, nothing beats a simple short sleeved dress in cotton, silk or linen in a solid color with that lightweight jacket or cardigan for early morning, meetings, etc. In the spring/early summer office days I wear cotton trousers in neutral colors with either a tank and jacket/sweater or a loose tunic blouse. For casual wear, I love linen and gauze pants or solid maxi skirts with tanks, tees or tunics.
sandals and a hat in a hot humid climate
I have two crisp cotton tuxedo blouses (black and white) that are staples in my summer wardrobe – they are sleeveless with a bit of a racerback cut, and boxy. They go over skirts, shorts, jeans… anything, really, and look tailored and crisp while being cool and comfortable. (I found them at Target years ago, and would love to find some similar replacements.) I throw a cardigan over them if I'll be in strong AC.
open-toed low wedges, #1
skirts and dresses #2
layering cardigans (offices are cold in the summertime AC) #3
Cropped chinos, blouses with sleeves, and pretty flats. I prefer light tan or stone colored jeans to white jeans.
As a "mature" plus-sized woman in the deep south my summer essentials are:
lightweight skirt and sleeveless top, or loose cotton dress, with a gauzy 3/4 sleeve coverup
sandals or wedges
straw bag with a scarf on the handle
the most used item in my summer wardrobe is a light cotton wide rectangular scarf in my summer colours. Its great for draping over your shoulders when the aircon is too cool, covers your arms in the sun and can be stuffed into your handbag when not in use. I have draped it over my legs when sitting in the park at lunch time and used it to sit on a concrete wall so my white skirt doesn't get marked. Also used as a sarong at the beach and a draped it over my top when the icecream melted. Cheers
My madras plaid sleeveless cotton dress.
When it is really hot outside,linen performs terribly. I love the look of linen but have never embraced the "rumpled" slept-in look of linen after 1 hour wear. Even for ultra casual. I understand there are some newer linen mixes that breathe well, can be washed at home and cuts the wrinkling a bit.