Don’t sweat your style this summer – Anna Murphy has found some brilliant pieces to keep you cool...
It’s not like we Brits get that much practice at hot-weather dressing. Which is why it doesn’t tend to come naturally to us. I certainly struggled with it for more years than a self-respecting fashion director should probably admit in public – and with the UK heatwave in full swing there’s no time like the present to learn to master hot-weather fashion.
Now I realise I never took the time – nor spent the money – to get my head around who my hot-weather self was, sartorially speaking. So I tended to wear the same things year after year, and/or things that didn’t quite feel like me. And at the end of each summer I would – tellingly, I now think – pack them away without a second thought.
I shop completely differently now. I look for clothes that, as much as possible, will work for me almost all year round. Sure, I still store my beachwear, but – by way of one example – the floaty skirt I wore all last summer saw me through this winter too, with the addition of opaque tights, boots and a chunky knit. ‘Transeasonality’. Another of those terrible words the fashion industry likes to throw at us, yet, if you nail the concept in your wardrobe, it’s a real life-changer.
The brands don’t always make it easy. To my mind a lot of the right kind of clothes in terms of practical requirements have the wrong kind of aesthetic for anyone who isn’t a) 21 and b) a size 8. Shops offer up too many clothes that are a kind of post-hippy fantasy – part Coachella festival, part Talitha Getty floating around in Marrakech. I suppose it’s because hot-weather dressing is a fantasy for most of us, for most of the year. But the truth is that boho does not do most of us any favours. So much so, in fact, that I prefer to call it noho.
Here are some pieces that get a yes-yes from me while the UK heatwave continues…
The top-quality sunglasses
If there is one thing worth spending money on, it’s sunglasses. Proper eye protection matters. Thankfully, that doesn’t have to mean paying designer prices. My go-to is the Australian brand Le Specs. I would also advocate not buying boring. You need a shape that works with your face, sure, but shades are a great way to bring your look up to date.
The unstructured jacket
One good way to finesse your style, whatever the weather, is to consider whether your default is to look smart or casual. We have all heard about smart-casual and if that’s your happy place you are probably comfortable in smart-smart too. That’s me. If it’s not you, then you are in the casual-smart and casual-casual brigade. Whichever category you fall into, make it work for whatever your day holds. This cotton-linen mix jacket delivers smart however hot it gets.
The midi dress
It’s a girl’s best friend whatever the weather – a frock smooths your lines and pulls your whole look together like nothing else. What’s more, praise be, the high street is now awash with the kind of ankle-spotlighting, knee-covering skirt lengths – so flattering – that once only came with a hefty price tag. When temperatures rise, a cotton iteration really comes into its own – minimum faff, maximum aeration. & Other Stories is one of the most reliable shops when it comes to tracking down the dress of your dreams.
The cool-endowing shirt
There’s nothing quite like crisp white cotton to dial down your in-body thermometer. Did movie legend Katharine Hepburn – doyenne of what the fashion pack now call shirting – ever look anything other than cooler than cool Precisely.
I rest my case. I like a softly feminised approach for the most summery of days, such as this pretty number from British brand Kitri.
The sophisticated slides
These are my high-street pick of the season, the epitome of class, as good with a skirt as trousers, and available in white or tan as well as the on-trend snakeskin here. They are not a million miles away from the signature slides from a famous French luxury brand that I couldn’t possibly mention but whose name begins with an “H”. Just saying.
The 12-month-long skirt (honestly!)
Yes, this is what I was talking about, finding a skirt that makes you feel – and look – easy-breezy throughout the warmer months (just wear with the tee, right) but, come December, when styled entirely differently, looks cosy-breezy. (I hereby declare it a thing.) Don’t believe me? I present as evidence the fact that last summer I bought a Studio by Preen skirt very similar to this one and I was still wearing it come Christmas.
The interest-adding jewellery
Keeping things fairly plain in terms of shapes is my way to nail summer elegance when it comes to clothing. Which makes it all the more important that one dials things up with the accessorising add-ons, seeking out items that bring individuality, even quirkiness, to your look. Jewellery is a stylish way to reference summer too. I love this beachy necklace.
The jeans alternative
We all love our denim, so much so that many of us struggle on with it when the temperatures rise. Don’t. Instead buy a clever retool from British brand Nrby Clothing, in the form of these super-comfy harem pants. They are made of lightweight breathable lyocell, which is conjured out of cellulose fibres from plants.
The perfect tee
It’s up there with the search for the perfect jeans, the faultless T-shirt. Is it a fashion unicorn, a fantasy item never to be found?
If you had asked me that a year ago, I would have said yes. That’s until I discovered Arket’s crew-neck, available in a navy-and-white and red-and-white stripe, as well as in plain white, black and navy. Yes, it’s that good.
The classic sun hat
None of us wants sun damage, to state the obvious, but none of us likes to be slathered in sun cream either. That’s why I keep covered up as much as possible – long sleeves and skirts, plus hat. It just makes life that bit easier and also means fewer chemicals on your skin. How convenient, then, that it also looks molto chic.
So what are you waiting for? Get shopping!