Help me dress with some personality in intense heat and humidity!
July 15, 2011 5:28 PM   Subscribe

Any suggestions for ways to be a bit more stylish that are comfortable in high humidity, 80-90 degree weather?

I live in South Florida and still haven't figured out how to dress! In the north i just kind of schlepped through summer without much style.

I need to figure out ways to change things up dress-wise with the intense heat and limited temp variation year round. As far as casual wear, I feel like I'm just wearing variations of the same outfit year round!

The one thing I've figured out that I like is wearing very thin cotton button down shirts open, with a tank underneath. I've started wearing skirts more, though it's not my usual thing.

I guess part of my problem is I don't want to wear particularly revealing or flashy clothes. I'm going for a simple, kind of funky style. Oh and I'm female, that's probably relevant.
posted by abirdinthehand to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I've got a couple of gauze tunics, similar to this one but with long sleeves, that are surprisingly comfortable in the hot sun of Texas when worn over a tank top.
posted by katemonster at 5:44 PM on July 15, 2011

I like other kinds of sleeveless tops like ruffly tanks that are popular right now, with a basic cardigan. Yea, it's another kind of uniform, but mixing the sleeveless tops with different colored cardigans makes it more interesting. Plus you can take off the cardigan, or put it on when inside in the air conditioning. Cardigans come in so many fabrics and sleeve lengths that you can surely find some basic ones that are not too hot for you.
posted by cabingirl at 5:59 PM on July 15, 2011

I live in Florida, too.

Layering always makes an outfit look more stylish and funky, but lots of layering doesn't make sense in this kind of climate. katemonster's idea is great because it's only two thin layers. Thin cotton cardigans are good too, even if you just wear them indoors and remove when you're outside.

I am very casual and simple as well. I find myself wearing capri pants, bermuda shorts, and t-shirts too much. I try to make things more stylish with accessories and I try to choose my shorts and tops with care. Capri pants and a top can be very boring but look how Kate Hudson does it:

I tend to be kind of preppy/sporty. I rely on cute shoes, an oversized watch, and a stylish bag (doesn't mean expensive. I don't have pricey bags) to make my outfits a little more interesting. I used to be on an a-line skirt with cute t-shirt kick. This combo can be very summery, especially if you get colorful and choose appropriate accessories.

Dresses are also a good way to look pulled together. There are so many cute day dresses out there.

You may want to look at some fashion blogs to get ideas. It's okay to copy in my book.
posted by Fairchild at 6:23 PM on July 15, 2011

If you don't mind a little bit of wrinkling, I would strongly recommend getting a few linen shirts, and possibly dresses.

I have a couple of knee-length linen chemises and about ten (!!!) three quarter length to long sleeved linen shirts that I wear constantly in the summer. The softer and lighter the fabric, in my experience, the less wrinkling you'll have to deal with.

The shirts in particular I like because I can throw one on over a tank top to cover up without warming up.
posted by ernielundquist at 6:42 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

For a simple, funky style, I would go for simple dresses with funky accessories, or simple skirts + tanks. I find skirts and dresses MUCH cooler than pants. Knee length somewhat flowy skirts can be simply, non-revealing, and good for hot weather.

Because you will be more limited by the heat in your clothing choices, focus on funky accessories - shoes, jewelry, belts, bags, sunglasses, etc. A pair of shoes/ necklace/ ring/ bag you love won't make you any warmer if you add it on to an outfit!
posted by insectosaurus at 7:09 PM on July 15, 2011

I live in Minnesota, where, when it's very hot, it's invariably also very humid. I also tend toward fairly modest clothing although I have a weakness for vivid color and wild print (I have sort of a vintage soul).

On those days I like shift-style dresses (not terribly close fitting, usually sleeveless, but there can be some light fitting/darts to keep it from looking like a sack). I like natural fibers (linen is king, cotton is okay too but absorbs a lot more moisture).

If I'm trying to be stylish I'll often just focus on shoes and jewelry to get me there, and let my clothing be sad limp rags, and hope it just looks like it's supposed to be that way. The upside of this plan is that I can invest in good quality natural-fiber summer clothes that last for years, and then just cheap out on crazy trendy sandals and thrift store beads and keep myself looking pretty put together and on point without having to spend a fortune.

You didn't ask about grooming at all but I have things to say about it anyway, because my first hot-humid summer was a real learning experience. I had to give up my beloved bangs because sweaty hair on my forehead never looked cute and bred a crop of pimples. I learned that the best practice was to have hair long enough to put up, or short enough to stay off my neck. I learned that my hair is too wavy to try to make it stay straight, so I go at it with a curling iron a little to make it flip in a direction that looks like it's meant to be that way. I don't do eye makeup in the summer (and I looooove eye makeup) but I go with a bolder lip gloss to make up for it. I made a few changes along with the weather, so that I could look like I wasn't being beat to shit by a little bit of a dew point.
posted by padraigin at 7:49 PM on July 15, 2011

I've lived in South Florida for about 7 years and Florida for 14. My casual summer wardrobe consists of maxi dresses, tank dresses, a-line skirts with tank tops, and shorts with tank tops. I probably own 15 Old Navy tank tops in various colors and they are an unabashed casual wardrobe staple. I'm not a fan of capris because I personally find them to be too hot and very unflattering. One of the best things I ever bought was a flowy knee-length linen skirt from Gap of all places, which feels like wearing air. I highly recommend buying linen whenever you find something cute - it holds up over time so it's worth any reasonable price.

I wore flip flops as my primary shoe literally every single day between the ages of 14 and 23. Don't do this. It wasn't until the last couple of years that I bought a few pairs of nice casual sandals. I feel like an idiot for not buying nicer shoes sooner, because in Florida shoes alone can takes an outfit from "grocery store" to "night out on the town" since everywhere is generally casual. I have a pair of sandals that appear to be these sandal's ancestor, and they have been well worth the money.
posted by gatorae at 8:01 PM on July 15, 2011

I live in Galveston, Texas, which is probably as ridiculously hot and humid as it gets outside of Florida (with the wonderful addition of ridiculous wind to really rumple you up) and I'm here to agree with everyone who said to try out some linen. As a person who dislikes shorts because they just don't look good on me, I get really frustrated when it's too hot and muggy to wear jeans. Linen pants have been a revelation for me. They look nice and, to me, feel even better than leaving my legs bare. I'm also a big fan of maxi dresses for the same reason. The bonus with maxi dresses is that, with a quick change of accessories, most maxi dresses can go from day to evening really nicely.

Another idea you might want to try is a really lightweight scarf. Target actually had some really nice basic summer scarves the last time I was there. It can be kind of a bold look, but a tank top with a loose lightweight scarf (and linen pants, of course) is really stylish and easy to do. Also, a scarf can be really handy if you often go from heat to air conditioning. If it's too hot, you can throw the scarf in your purse or even tie it around the strap, and if you walk in somewhere cold, it's easy to open the scarf up and wrap it around your shoulders a little.
posted by alittlecloser at 9:52 PM on July 15, 2011

This is what summer is like where I live. (Though not the other seasons, sadly!) I have a "uniform" for the most part. Sort of overlapping what some others have said, but in summer I usually wear either:

-A dress, tight around the chest and loose/flowy below. Either below the knee or maxi-length. A light cardigan for when I go into a place with AC or need to be more covered up.

-A flowy A-line skirt, either below the knee or maxi length, with a tank top. And one of the the above cardigans.

Cardigan can be switched with a light, cropped jacket when you need a more put-together look.

For shoes, some kind of cute slide or flip-flop. Something that doesn't cover too much of my foot and can be easily slipped off.

(That uniform could work for conservative, funky, classic, girly, pretty much anything depending on what the individual pieces look like. And accessories, of course. Even if it's too hot to have something else on you, like a scarf, there's alway your bag. You can express a lot with a bag.)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 5:50 AM on July 16, 2011

Make fabrics a priority. In the summer, do not wear anything that does not contain at least a percentage of natural fibre. The best fabrics are cotton, linen, silk, and viscose/rayon. The latter two don't really wrinkle, and linen can be great in a garment that looks good crumpled; you don't want to be constantly fighting a losing battle to keep something smooth.

I think that layering a tank underneath your shirt will be too hot in a Florida summer. You might want to substitute a Dans-EZ sports bra, which are intended to be worn as both under and outerwear so are OK to be seen above the neckline of your shirt.

For foot comfort, try making a rule that you will wear only open-toed sandals, canvas sneakers, and real leather ballet flats (or equivalent) during the summer. Synthetic or closed-toe shoes will just be a blister factory. Of course, if you're going to a job interview or a formal occasion like a wedding or, especially, a funeral, you'll need to break out the closed-toe shoes, but not the rest of the time.

Fine-gauge fishnets can be worn with open-toed shoes and will reduce the friction between your foot and the shoe. They also don't make you hot and sticky. Again, they can be worn to almost anything except a job interview, wedding, or (especially) funeral, when you'll probably have to break out the sheer hose, but the rest of the time yay fishnets.

I also think you should get the Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style and look closely at the "American Classic" chapter. The "California Casual" chapter is a more summery, also more casual variant of the same chapter. I would, once you've found a chapter you like, dig through your wardrobe and examine each item in the book and see what you've got that's the closest match. Both these chapters sound like you, so far, though.
posted by tel3path at 7:49 AM on July 16, 2011

Oh, I forgot to say, about dresses - strapless or spaghetti strap. (Or tank-style top, if that's better for your body type.) You don't need any extra fabric around your arms/armpits when it's hot and sticky out.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 8:02 AM on July 16, 2011

SILK. Light, flattering, perennially elegant, seasonally unbeatable.
posted by taramosalata at 10:16 AM on July 16, 2011

Available, for instance, in the form of rompers, dresses, shorts, and tees -- to pick just a few classic yet funky examples.
posted by taramosalata at 10:24 AM on July 16, 2011

Response by poster: wow a lot of great ideas here.
I like the scarf idea. I will definitely be getting lots of linen, more skirts and looking into more accessories.

Time to go shopping!
posted by abirdinthehand at 11:54 AM on July 16, 2011

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