Nashville’s summers are widely known for packing in a few hot and humid days, especially come August. While we have already had our fair share this season, we still haven’t quite figured out how to master the art of dressing for the warm weather — until now. Sometimes, it just takes a few words of wisdom to make us realize that instead of dreading dressing for these hot, humid days, we can embrace it. Despite the fact that we will be dripping with sweat, we don’t have to sacrifice our style.
The first, and seemingly most obvious, suggestion is to wear loose-fitting clothing. “Lightweight billowy tops are always a go-to when the temperatures rise,” shares Lyndsay Archer of Oak Hall. “I especially don’t like anything clingy when the humidity levels are up.” Although your favorite pants, top, skirt or dress might be form fitting, you will be glad to have a bit of air circulating the moment you step outside. So for now, leave those items hanging in the closet. Marsha Hunt, of Zelda, aptly refers to it as the “3-L Rule”: light, loose layers. To abide by this rule, opt for lightweight kimonos and tank dresses that can take you from the outside heat to the indoor air conditioning, as Ann Stanford of Lizard Thicket Boutique suggests, or choose tunics and flowing maxi dresses, as Leigh Masters of The French Shoppe recommends.
If you do decide to rock a maxi dress, take advice from Stacey Rhodes of Stacey Rhodes Boutique and be able to take your look from day to evening. “You can wear maxi dresses with flats or wedges and a crossbody bag for daytime or peep-toe booties and strappy heels with a clutch for evening,” she says. KC Nikolai of Boutique Bella shares,”I am also a big fan of maxi dresses or maxi skirts with a tank or simple tee. They are comfortable, cool, easy to accessorize and can hide a multitude of sins if you aren’t in love with your stomach, legs or butt … Of course, you can’t go wrong with an easy cotton, casual dress. They are cool and comfortable, you can dress them up or down, and you have a ton of different shoe options.”
When thinking of which loose layers to don during the hot days, think of the fabrics first. Beth Franklin, of Gus Mayer Nashville, names linen and cotton as great summer fabrics and points us in the direction of light-colored clothing. “It is so helpful to wear light-colored clothing during the summer months. Darker colors absorb more light,” she says. Leigh Masters of The French Shoppe echoes Beth’s recommendations by suggesting light colors that reflect light as well as natural fabrics, such as cotton, that keep you cool. Elizabeth Allen of e.Allen Boutique always steers towards natural fabric for summertime dresses and shorts and KC Nikolai of Boutique Bella reminds us that white cotton tops can go with just about anything and they don’t show sweat as much as dark colors and prints!
These rules apply even when dressing for an upscale affair. Bella Bridesmaids has years of experience outfitting bridal parties and managing wardrobe challenges that come with outdoor venues during the summer. When it is not an option to wear less clothing, Allison Taylor encourages us to,”pay close attention to fabric and lining in your dress. A flowy fabric is always going to be best. However, the lining is just as important. Make sure the lining feels light and comfortable, as that will be the fabric against your body. A heavy or scratchy lining not only will be hot, but also uncomfortable.” And of course, undergarments (such as slips) are not to be forgotten. Don’t be surprised if your maxi dress clings in all of the wrong places or your sticky bras slide right off. Avoid these wardrobe malfunctions by getting the appropriate undergarments!
Women aren’t the only ones who need to keep dressing for less casual tips in mind. There are plenty of summer occasions that call for men to leave golf shirts, shorts and sandals behind and dress to impress. “Hot temperatures don’t give you license or permission to lose your professional edge,” Eric Viars of The Oxford Shop reminds men. “An unlined jacket and light colors and fabrics will keep you cool. It is usually okay to go tieless during your summer months but add flair with a pocket square.” If it is the appropriate occasion to wear sandals, we beg that you get a pedicure (yes, even you men).
Now that you have the key items of your outfit down, don’t forget to accessorize. Jazz up any outfit with a few pieces of jewelry, the perfect shoes, sunglasses and a bag. “Before you walk out to brave the heat, throw on whatever is easy and breeze — just don’t forget your favorite necklace!” Kathleen McCarthy of K. McCarthy reminds us. “Statement accessories, like a necklace or ornate bracelets, always help pull together an outfit without having to add any extra layers of clothing,” Lyndsay of Oak Hall says. This being said, Lyndsay and Leigh Masters of The French Shoppe agree that an accessory such as a lightweight cashmere wrap or scarf is good to have on hand to keep you comfortable as you move from outside to in, where the air conditioning is sure to be blasting.
In addition to jewelry, accessorize with practical items, such as sunglasses and hats. “A great pair of sunglasses in a cool, flattering shape is a must-have for summer. They will keep you looking stylish, while protecting your eyes. There are so many fun styles and colors, so it gives you a chance to step outside the box!” Stacey Rhodes of Stacey Rhodes Boutique shares. Sunglasses — paired with a wide-brim hat, fedora or ball cap — can protect your face and hide any hair that doesn’t play well with the humidity.
As far as shoes go, keep the boots hidden until fall strikes, get a pedicure and make use of open-toed shoes. “Invest in great opened-toe shoes,” Milton White of The Fashion Office advises. “I live in sandals all summer long. You lose heat through your hands, head and feet. And this advice applies to women and men, alike.” Ann Stanford of Lizard Thicket Boutique likes the idea of pairing opened-toe booties with cropped flares and a flowy tank, which will keep you cool through the summer and with the addition of a layer, can take you into fall.