It seems that as soon as the sun is out, us Brits either completely strip off (yes, there were bare chests on the Central line circa 8am), or do the opposite and act as if there’s no heatwave at all, rocking jeans and tops as though it’s still March.
But we can do better than this! There’s a chic in-between that will leave you stylish and cool, I promise. The highly-anticipated 25 degree(!) weather is on its way to the UK, and it’s set to bring the warmest days we’ve seen this year so far. It means it’s the perfect time to nail hot weather dressing and put those summer style mistakes (leggings wearers, I’m looking at you) firmly to bed.
I’m not saying I’m a pro at summer dressing, by the way. Navigating the perfect summer outfit that works for the commute, an air-conditioned office and a too-hot lunchtime stroll is no mean feat, but I’ve adopted a few failsafe summer rules to get me by.
From breezy maxi dresses, tailored shorts for the office and black separates (yes, you read that right), these are the wardrobe staples that will help you avoid making those all-too-easy summer style mistakes in the heatwave…
The mistake: Smart suit trousers
Fix it: Tailored Bermuda shorts
Shorts are controversial summer territory, but I reckon it’s that denim cut-offs are often the first style that spring to mind. If you’re heading to the office and not Glasto however, something smarter is needed.
May I turn your attention to Bermuda shorts? Cut a little wider and longer than your usual shorts, and more often that not in a stylish neutral shade, they’re the perfect option if you need to show office-face in a heatwave.
I typically pair shorts with a shirt or light knit, as the coverage nicely balances when having your legs out. For the office, I’ll team with slick leather accessories and a matching shirt to elevate the look.
The mistake: Skinny jeans
Fix it: Linen trousers
Clingy, warm, thick – skinny jeans are just not the one in the sun. Or any jeans for that matter.
Instead, I’d recommend loose trousers which are smarter and work for every summer occasion. Wide-legs that allow some breeze are perfect, but with the right material, tapered styles work too: stick to natural fabrics like cotton, linen and silk.
I have this Arket pair in both black and beige and have had them on rotation this week, wearing them with racerback vests and cotton shirts. Depending on where you’re heading, linen trousers look great with espadrille wedges (more on those later), strappy mules and chunky dad sandals.
Note how Emily has styled hers: a floaty printed top tucked into high-waisted wide-legs cinches in the waist, avoiding the breezy loose silhouette swamping your frame.
The mistake: A bodycon dress
Fix it: Wafty maxi
I can see why you’d reach for a fitted outfit in hot weather – sort of seems like it’ll be less cumbersome, right? The thing is, wearing a warm jersey material so close to your skin is a recipe for a sweat disaster, and no one wants that.
I can guarantee you’ll feel more comfortable in a loose maxi dress which allows for breeze and doesn’t stick to your skin. Pick a printed one which will disguise sweat marks better than a colour block number, and a quick-dry cotton fabric for an outfit that you can feel smug all day in.
The best part about a wafty frock? It’s easily dressed up and down. Pair it with Birkenstocks and a straw bag by day, then block-heeled mules and glitzy earrings by night.
The mistake: Showing too much skin
Fix it: Oversized shirt
Throwing on a strapless top and denim shorts might feel like the safest bet to get through warm climes, but having lots of skin on show only leaves you susceptible to sun damage.
You’d also be forgiven for thinking it was the coolest option, whereas something that covers you and protects but crucially, feels weightless, is actually the wisest.
Take it from me – an oversized shirt or floaty blouse is your saviour. Shirts don’t come better than With Nothing Underneath’s Boyfriend style, so use the brand as your starting point.
Regardless of the fabric, thanks to its tailored fit, a shirt always adds a smart vibe to a look. During the coming climbing temperatures, I’ll be wearing them tucked into Bermuda shorts or with tapered linen trousers.
The mistake: Chunky shoes
Fix it: Breathable wedges
Sweaty toes? Can’t think of anything worse! This season’s It chunky dad sandals pass muster since they’re strappy and allow air to travel through, but otherwise, chunky leather shoes should be a hard pass.
If you’ve opted for them because you’re heading to work, fear not, as there are more summery styles that are just as chic. Wedge espadrilles are easy to walk in, comfortable, breathable and light, and flat versions work just as well if you’re not keen on added height. Job done!
Watch out for those ankle straps which can appear to cut off your legs at an awkward point, depending on the hem of your bottoms: I’d recommend pairing them with a floaty full skirt that hits mid-shin for the most flattering look.
The mistake: Avoiding black
Fix it: Sleek summer dress
In fact, I’d argue black in summer is as chic as it gets. A pleated midi dress, a linen sun dress, cotton separates – the options are endless so don’t limit yourself if it’s typically your favourite shade to wear. You’re always going to look best in what you feel most comfortable in – cheesy, but true.
Brittany has the right idea with this dress that ticks two heatwave dressing boxes: stylish black and a wafty silhouette. Just add smart leather sandals and a pair of oversized sunnies and you’re good to go.