23 In Anatomy of an Outfit/ Getting Dressed

Must have features for hot weather outfits

I’ve been listening to those of you from Texas and North Carolina and Arizona asking me for hot weather outfit tips for fashionable but functional looks.

Well, the heat just rolled into the Bay Area and it’s suddenly coming back to me what it is that helps me stay as cool as possible while still looking like a person who could have written a few books on style.

Let’s start off with this outfit I wore last week when it was in the high 80s/low 90s. Although the pant styles will vary as well as the tops, there are some features I want to share with you that I consistently favor in hot weather.

The looser the top, the cooler you’ll be

tops for hot weather dressing

I’ve been wearing this Dressori top layered with sweaters or long-sleeved T-shirts underneath during these last few chilly weeks. I bought it for warm Sonoma days and finally, I got to wear it with nothing on underneath it but my bra. Woohoo!

Deeper than normal armholes will keep you cool

deep armholes for hot weather dressing
Deep armholes ensure cool dressing

Here’s my summer comfort rule of thumb: the deeper the armhole, the cooler you’ll be. The armhole of this Dressori silk top is close to 10 inches deep which is kind of at my minimum for the hottest of days.

The armhole in my yellow print blouse below measures 8 inches deep. It’s not tight by any means but every additional inch allows more air to circulate and keep me cool.

Yellow print top
Less deep means less air flow

Wide sleeves give natural air-conditioning

Another thing I look for is open sleeves—no buttons, no cuffs, no rolling up. Again, the wider the opening, the more air can move around. This sleeve is wide all the way down and then has a vent to boot.

Hot weather dressing
Open sleeves for hot weather dressing

The wide-bodied top allows for more ventilation

The other feature of this top is the width of it through the body. It’s not tight across the bustline, waistline, or hips. I especially love the way it dips longer on the sides and gives it more interest. Function and fashion is the best.

Dressori silk top
Fashion details add flair to hot weather outfits

Eliminate the need for a traditional waistband, zipper and button closures

There’s nothing like a flat front, pull-on pant for easy summertime wear. Although my summer jeans are pretty thin, nothing beats this no-fuss approach. Have you worn pants with waistbands, zippers, and buttons and as soon as you got home you had to get out of them as quickly as possible? All that fuss at the waistline makes me feel extra sticky and uncomfortable in the heat.

When I slip on a pant like this I’m always wearing a top over it so no one will see the waistband. My waist won’t enter my mind all day and that’s a treat! This So-Slimming stretchy pant is from Chico’s a couple of seasons back.

Wear “cool” jewelry

Wearing simple jewelry in heat

I want to wear accessories even when it’s hot out (more blog posts about this to come) but I want them to feel cool and uncomplicated. This necklace was a perfect choice. It was originally an earring that I purchased from an artist thirty years ago. I never wore the earrings, even though I tried to many times. One day Erin saw them in my jewelry stash and said, “This would make a great necklace.”

A week later we each had a necklace! I love the look of the stone with a small diamond in it. I cool down just looking at those materials. The double fine chains are light, not heavy. I’m accessorized without adding bulk.

Adding just a little more fashion flavor

Handbags play a big role in summer dressing. My canvas vintage red, white, and blue Gucci bag fits right into my blue and white color scheme.

Although I thought about wearing my white sneakers with this outfit, I decided to dress things up a little more with my ankle wrapped Paul Green flats. Isn’t it fun how the criss-cross of the ankle strap echos the criss-cross in the design of the top and for bonus points, the criss-cross design in the Gucci handbag? I love when things like that happen!

Gucci vintage bag

Shopping local

If you’re interested in where these items came from, here are my sources. My top and pant both came from stores on the Sonoma Square. The Dressori top is from Artefax Art-to-Wear and the pants came from the Sonoma Chico’s brick and mortar store at 29 East Napa Street. My blue framed glasses came from nearby Petaluma at Uber Optics. My shoes were purchased in the Corte Madera Nordstrom in the Village Shopping Center and the vintage handbag came from SAX Consignment in San Anselmo.

Summing up hot weather outfit features

When you look at putting together your next hot weather outfit, see if these three things can help you feel cool.

  1. Loose top
  2. Flat-front pants
  3. Lightweight jewelry

Now let’s hear from you well-experienced dressers out there. What are the features that keep you cool in hot weather? Do share!


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  • Reply
    Cynthia D Brown
    June 11, 2019 at 4:16 am

    Those are great tips. When I moved from Denver to Dallas three years ago during the summer, I had to ratchet up my hot weather attire. My go-to when it’s whoop-ass hot? A loose fitting sheath dress in a natural fabric with as little on my feet as possible.

  • Reply
    Eva Popovich
    June 11, 2019 at 4:24 am

    Long floaty linen dresses keep me cool here in Florida! Nothing tight or fitted, as you said. Since I am short I have to be careful about this, but an eye-catching bracelet and a flattering necklace usually do the trick.
    I would rather cover my neck, but it’s hard to do it on these 90-plus days. The Chico’s style of flipping your collar on a linen or soft cotton blouse helps. With loose blouses, though, I find slim pants or Bermuda shorts works best.
    And sandals, every day!

  • Reply
    June 11, 2019 at 4:59 am

    Thanks for the post!
    I have just moved to Phoenix from Benicia! It’s been nice to break out my casual summer dresses too. The larger looser light colored shirts are also my hot weather go to tops. I’ve also found on Amazon a light weight cotton culotte slip that helps keep me comfortable in the heat.
    Love the posts
    Miss The Square.

  • Reply
    June 11, 2019 at 5:06 am

    Dresses, flowy linen pants. Linen anything. Loose tops. Sleeveless as much as possible. And I thought I was the only one that liked a deep armhole in the summer lol

    • Reply
      June 11, 2019 at 6:51 am

      I love that top! ❤️

  • Reply
    June 11, 2019 at 5:29 am

    I wear uncomplicated knee length sheath dresses when it’s hot. They allow air to circulate in areas that pants simply do NOT! They are so easy to slip on (one and done) and don’t require much effort at all. I wear them at home often. When I’m going out for dinner or church, I always carry a wrap to keep warm in the chilly air conditioning.

  • Reply
    June 11, 2019 at 5:31 am

    I’m in NC and wear dresses and skirts to keep cool. On super hot days I wear my loosest dresses so that nothing touches my body. I wear sandals all summer. I keep my hair off my neck by wearing it in a ponytail or bun.

  • Reply
    Diane B
    June 11, 2019 at 5:57 am

    Dresses, skirts and linen anything. I have rather large upper arms and the loose sleeves are something I look for all the time. If the arm is tight my whole body is irritated. Also due to sun intolerance I will wear a tank or similar and an open light blouse. Anything to catch a breeze. Love the top and the colour of your glasses. P.s. I will dial back on some of the jewelery on hot days, but not completely.

  • Reply
    Linda B
    June 11, 2019 at 6:29 am

    Perfect timing on this post! Normally, I am one of those Arizonans asking for this sort of advice. Now, I am spending the summer helping my daughter with her newborn in Corvallis, OR–which is mostly so much more temperate in the summers, but we are heading into a few days in the mid-90s, with no AC. . .

    My approach to dressing for the heat is similar to the previous comments. I find dresses or skirts to be the ticket. And cotton and linen–even a longer skirt is cool if it is made of linen! But usually I wear skirts that are around knee length, or shorts. Because I am a runner and cyclist, I feel fine about baring my legs, and I don’t really care if my arms are a bit jiggly, and I have spider veins–I’d rather be comfortable. So I’ll definitely be wearing sleeveless tops and shorts, and skirts, this next few days. I also like to keep my jewelry lighter during the summer.

    The piece of advice about the width of the armholes is brilliant. I never thought of that! I didn’t bring many long sleeved shirts with me, but I bet one that I did bring falls into this category.

    • Reply
      Anne Whately
      June 11, 2019 at 6:38 pm

      Love the tip about the deeper armholes! Gauzy linen tops (somewhat see through) work well over my “maternity” singlets that have a built in soft bra, and which are comfy around my waist. It allows my waistline- what’s left of it- to peek through.

  • Reply
    June 11, 2019 at 7:47 am

    Excellent blog. Is there a link to the top or something similar?

  • Reply
    June 11, 2019 at 7:56 am

    I use to sell THAT GUCCI BAG back in the 1980’s!That is style 1001-2!
    The 2 means BLUE a 1 meant Brown!Funny the things we remember!
    We were hidden in a warehouse in Oakland in the Produce district!We sold to all the BIG RETAILERS in the USA and CANADA!A Long time ago……..thats how I met THE ITALIAN as he came from the FACTORY outside FLORENCE!

  • Reply
    June 11, 2019 at 10:10 am

    THANK YOU for this post-everything looks amazing; love it all!!! And the accessory of the Gucci bag is killer. I would love to be able to wear all of your outfits and style tips but it’s just so darn hot here in Arizona, I can only dream. But this outfit is beautiful, stylish and COOL! Your email Blog is always a highlight to my day:)

  • Reply
    June 11, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    No wonder I love your blog-great advice, conversation starter…and did I mention the contributors? All of you very intelligent women above share freely sound pointers! Summer heat has not hit yet in Ohio! I am still wearing a sweater and carrying an umbrella! Usually it’s hot and humid by now and I am in gauzy shifts all summer long. Accessorizing can be challenging as anything too heavy feels uncomfortable. Love your necklace however! Linen is a plus. I gave up on shorts three years ago and go with simple shifts as I just couldn’t find anything that accommodated my muffin top anymore comfortably.

  • Reply
    Vivian Harrington
    June 11, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    Linen dresses, long flowing skirts with a tank, wide legged linen pants with a linen top, a brimmed straw hat, LK Bennett kitten heel mules in vibrant colors or gladiator sandals or ballet flats, my Brahmin textured pink/cream/ blue bucket bag, statement earrings, and minimal makeup. Wish I’d kept my brown Gucci satchel from 1989!

  • Reply
    Zelda B.
    June 11, 2019 at 8:18 pm

    Another fabulous post to inspire me to get out of my fashion rut! Last month we were in Florida and I noticed how fancy our southern sisters dress in spite of the hot weather. There they were decked out in beautifully coordinated dresses, flowing skirts, straw hats, classy sandals and pearls to boot. I felt like a slob…but between the fancy southern gal style and our fashion friend Brenda, I am very inspired to step up my fashion game.

  • Reply
    June 12, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    After 5 years in Houston (moving from the Northeast), and lots of trial and error, I’ve found that woven fabrics are much cooler than knits, especially in the humidity. Cotton (batiste-weight) or linen. Silk is too hot. Oh, and just resign yourself to doing a lot of ironing in the summer!

  • Reply
    June 14, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    Hi, Brenda – I have been loving thin materials in flowing shapes, such as caftans, tunics, maxi dresses and maxi skirts. I love a light and flowing kimono over a camisole because the air flows around when the kimono billows as I walk and the bare top is still covered. I have also been enjoying the coolness of my harem pants! They are made of a silky thin printed material. Like you said, the more roomy the fit the cooler you feel so wide-leg pants in a thin material are comfortable too. Happy summer – Angie, http://www.yourtrueselfblog.com

    • Reply
      July 28, 2019 at 8:01 am

      I love ALL of these ideas, Angie! Thanks for sharing them! “And the heat goes on…” Remember the Mamas and the Papas singing that? Or was it “the beat goes on”? (Teehee!)

  • Reply
    June 17, 2019 at 7:51 am

    Even the shoes have the criss-cross pattern.

  • Reply
    June 21, 2019 at 3:31 am

    I love that Dressori top, I would buy it in a heartbeat. I’m in my summer “uniform” of loose trousers and linen shirts in all colours, although it’s not very warm yet here in the UK. Happy summer everyone!

  • Reply
    Rt Diva
    July 28, 2019 at 7:46 am

    I wear on those sizzling days a strapless bra!
    It’s amazing how much cooler I feel.
    Plus use an antiperspirant under your boobs to prevent heat rash.

    • Reply
      August 6, 2019 at 3:42 pm

      I had no idea the strapless bra would be much cooler. I’m so glad you shared this with us!

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