Morbid in Margaritaville
April 17, 2012 2:39 PM   Subscribe

I need major fashion help. Recommend shoes and clothing that allow me to look like myself in hot weather?

I've had limited success in dressing for hot weather. Ironic, since I live in a place where it's very hot, but I stay indoors a lot and most places here have A/C year-round. My spouse and I may be traveling to NYC at the end of May. I'm somewhat dreading this, since we'll be outside on foot all day and I have a very low tolerance for getting hot and sweaty. Our previous trips have led to my being deeply unhappy as I slogged through our vacation feeling like a roasting chicken. I need some idea of what I can wear that will help me stay semi-cool while not looking like a dork.

1. I need shoes I can walk long distances in. I have high arches and very sensitive feet, so I prefer something with a thicker sole. For day-to-day wear, I go with pointed toe flats similar to these. I would prefer a shoe with a pointed toe as these make my short, chubby legs look less stumpy. I was thinking about these Doc Martens, but I don't like the interlacing and I'm not sure if Docs are still good walking shoes. Ideally, I want a pointed-toe Oxford with a cushioning sole. Are there any other sorts of shoes I should look at?

2. I tend to wear a sort of "uniform" of black skinny jeans and a black t-shirt. This has led me to total misery when I've had to walk around in the daytime and it's warm. I'm pretty sure black jeans will be out, so I have no idea what to wear on my bottom half. I prefer to be rather covered, (legs, arms at least to the elbow) partially because my flesh is pale and wobbly, partially because I don't want to get too much sun (Gothy) and I don't want to expose my tattoos to the sun. Jeans/pants that are not black do not suit me. Anything light-colored makes my bottom half look huge. What can I wear outside of black/darkish pants and black shirts?

3. Dresses don't really work for me. I'd have to wear tights to deal with the chub rub and there goes any temperature-lowering advantage.

4. I don't like colors other than black, gray and certain shades of purple. I've tried wearing other colors and I feel like I'm in a Halloween costume.

I know I'm basically being a pain here, but any tips would be greatly appreciated.
posted by Kitty Stardust to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (37 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I get your style. Try going with black cotton leggings instead of jeans. H&M carries lighter and thicker black leggings in cotton and so does target. Leggings will also make your flat pointy loafers look super cool and you can wear short socks to expose your ankles a bit too cool off. As for the top, wear baby doll type tops that cover only below your bottom and are flawy. A scarf in an accent color to cover up your neck from getting too much sun. I think the trick is using breathable fabrics to cover up from the sun and let your skin breath. Enjoy NYC, it's a great place.
posted by i_wear_boots at 2:49 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm thinking looser fabrics might help. A gauzy shirt in black will give you coverage while also allowing through whatever breezes might be around. Even a lighter-weight t-shirt fabric should help.

I'd try it in your day-to-day first, but if the only issue with skirts/dresses is chub rub, try something bike-short-like underneath rather than going all the way to tights.

(In my experience, jeans & t-shirt is pretty much the hottest least comfortable clothing combo available.)
posted by epersonae at 2:50 PM on April 17, 2012

Would a black maxi skirt work for you?

It's breezier than pants, for sure, but still gives you plenty of coverage. I don't know if it would require tights the same way a dress would or if there's some sort of shorts you could wear under them instead of full length tights.

Also, can't resist sharing Goths in Hot Weather. You could just get a gothasol?
posted by chatongriffes at 2:52 PM on April 17, 2012

How would you feel about wearing a skirt or dress with patterned tights? Patterned tights are often a lot cooler than opaque tights, because they have holes in them. These are sold out, but I'm thinking something along these lines might be your style.
posted by insectosaurus at 2:53 PM on April 17, 2012

Thin black cotton leggings. You can get them in a capri length to keep you cool. Loose top in thin fabric - I prefer rayon to cotton but YMMV. Both easily available at Target.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:58 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh My Gauze! offers a lot of styles in black.

And everyone I know who is subject to chub rub wears lightweight capri leggings under flowy dresses in the summertime. Or bike shorts.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:59 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about some kind of very, very lightweight, shorter sleeved cardigan over a tank top or something with not much sleeve? This sort of thing, maybe.

I also think leggings are a good idea. They are not that different from skinny jeans looks wise but 100x less hot. Look at ones made by athletic apparel companies (in plain black, obviously) because they are meant to wick moisture away and will also have sweat absorbent waistbands. Good quality cropped leggings are almost like wearing shorts, temperature wise. A long tunic top over cropped leggings, maybe with a gauzy cardigan, will be extremely breathable and won't show much skin.
posted by pekala at 3:00 PM on April 17, 2012

Assets (available at Target, maybe elsewhere as well) has footless tights and biker-short-like undergarments (think control-top pantyhose cut off midthigh). But my favorite strategy is to go barelegged with a skirt and one of these underneath. Very, very comfortable. No chafing. I also recommend a powder with cornstarch when you shower in the morning--will help keep perspiration at bay.
posted by tully_monster at 3:00 PM on April 17, 2012

1. Have you looked at Earth shoes? They have a lower-heel thing going on that is excellent for lots of walking with high arches. (It looks like all that's available right now are hideous sandals. That is odd, and bad. Keep in mind for the future, maybe?)

2. What about black or gray leggings? Perhaps they would be a thinner fabric than your skinny jeans? You could also try black linen pants. Linen is lighter & cooler than denim.

3. Would bike-type shorts help under skirts for the chafing? I have a super super thin cotton mermaid-style (gothy) skirt that's comfortable in hot weather but covers me from waist to toes while still giving me a decent shape. If you find a thin enough material for the skirt, maybe wearing knee-length leggings underneath wouldn't be so uncomfortable? Also these half-sheer/half-lined skirts are everywhere, but are they fashionable? Uncertain. Still, they might fit your bill.

Agree with others that a parasol might be in order. Lots of people walk in NYC even just using their umbrellas on blazing hot days. If that's too theatrical for you, find a broad-brimmed hat to keep the sun off of your face & shoulders. Black is probably not a great idea; would straw (or straw-colored) or gray fit your aesthetic? Having a hat to shade your upper body might allow you to wear less in terms of sleeves, which would help you stay cool. I have one of those cheapo metal & paper folding fans to help move the air around when it's unbearably hot--like in the subway.

Good luck, and have fun!
posted by Fui Non Sum at 3:08 PM on April 17, 2012

Best answer: The toes aren't pointy, but Keens are great shoes for people with high arches. I bought my first pair after nearly collapsing in pain during a "not wearing adequate shoes for this big city" trip of my own, and fell instantly in love.

For your top, you might consider a tank top with a shrug. You get the upper arm coverage you want, but with better ventilation.

Finally, my inner schoolmarm must request: If you choose to wear leggings instead of pants, please do remember that leggings are underwear, not pants, and be sure to cover your butt and genital region with other clothes. (If you have an exhibitionist streak and don't mind having strangers gawk at your underwear that's your choice, of course. But make sure it's a choice, not an oversight, if you choose to go out in public not fully dressed.)
posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:10 PM on April 17, 2012 [7 favorites]

I think a maxi skirt or dress would work great for you. You can get a big full black skirt in cotton that goes down to your ankles, and wear soft shorts underneath for the chub issue, although, as someone who has similar problems and comes from Texas I can attest that sometimes it's better to have nothing there at all (well, you should probably wear underpants in public though...) so you can splay out your thighs in moments of peace and let things air out. Tops will be a little harder. Be sure to have your neck exposed (but with sunscreen of course!) and try to find a top that will be flowy. You might be able to find something with a fitted bodice but wide semi-transparent sleeves, or something called a "batwing sleeve" like this or "kimono sleeve" like this.

Shoes depends on how much you're willing to pay. You can definitely get a pointed toe walking shoe. I wouldn't go for Docs just because they are so hard to break in, and until they're broken in you don't want to really trek around in them without very thick socks if you can help it. Have you tried on any Fidji shoes to see if they might work well with your high arches?
posted by Mizu at 3:13 PM on April 17, 2012

Another route would be to go for pants similar to your usual color/cut but in a linen/cotton blend or a linen/rayon blend. If you're willing to go a little more flowy that could help too. I had a pair of NY & Co linen/rayon pants that were dark in color but very cool just because the fabric was so lightweight.

For the shoes, if what you need is support, I'm a fan of putting Superfeet insoles in shoes that you know work for you otherwise.
posted by yarrow at 3:14 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you choose to wear leggings instead of pants, please do remember that leggings are underwear, not pants, and be sure to cover your butt and genital region with other clothes.

So glad someone else said this first! Leggings really are not pants. Grr.

I was going to suggest a black maxi-dress, but I see you don't like dresses...I have heard good things about various products that you put on your skin to eliminate rubbing/chafing - I think maybe they're intended for sports? I don't know the brands but maybe someone else does, or you can Google them. If the problem with dresses is the rubbing more than the style, that might take care of it.

If dresses are an absolute no, though, I'm thinking loose black light-weight linen pants (I've worn pants like this in climates hotter than NY in May, and felt fine), with a dark, light-weight top/tunic. That might be a little more hippie than gothy, but I'm sure you could find some styles that work for you.

As for shoes, when it's hot in NY (and other places) I try to go for the least coverage on top of the foot as possible. (I'm really prone to blisters.) May in NY is not usually that hot, but this year has been freaky, so it might be. There are flip-flops/thongs with very supportive soles - I have some Born ones that are great for walking long distances. That's if you're not tied to closed toe shoes.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 3:32 PM on April 17, 2012

Maybe something like one of REI's travel pants? I have the men's version. They breathe in hot weather, are basically unwrinkle-able, and if you get schmutz on them you can scrub it out in the sink at night and they'll be dry before morning. They appear to have petite sizing as well, if you're on the shorter side.
posted by rtha at 3:35 PM on April 17, 2012

Oh god, how I hate the sun and hot weather.

The Ex Officio line of black, gauzy, crinkly travel separates have worked well for my pasty self in tropical conditions. The long skirt and capris in black are very comfortable, look good on a range of body types, and can be dressed up or modded-out with quirky shoes. They pack down to nothing, dry quickly, and don't need ironing.

The capris are long enough that you get good coverage.

Their tops are a little frumpy for my taste, but you could find something long and gauzy (peasant blouse?) elsewhere that might work for you.
posted by quivering_fantods at 3:39 PM on April 17, 2012

These pettipants are 100 percent cotton, and they are great! I wish they came in ivory or nude, but I rely on them anyway!
posted by jgirl at 3:46 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

FWIW, I put deodorant on my thighs in the summer when wearing skirts/dresses to prevent chub rub. Also baby powder all over before getting dressed.
posted by radioamy at 3:47 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Pettipants, Monistat Chafing Gel, Body Glide if you reconsider skirts; gauzy palazzo-style pants otherwise.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:06 PM on April 17, 2012

The Barking dog shoe blog for shoe ideas and she even takes reader requests to help find them shoes.

Seconding Body Glide; works great on feet as well as the rest of one's body.
posted by mogget at 4:08 PM on April 17, 2012

Best answer: If you're going to be walking a lot, I'd really, really recommend compromising on the pointy toe and getting something like these. Your feet will be much happier--well ventilated without constricting laces. Those Docs look like a recipe for sweaty, blistered feet.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:13 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and whatever shoes you go with, I recommend walking in them for about a week or so first. If you get any blisters, heal them with these before the trip. This will make the actual trip a lot more fun.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:18 PM on April 17, 2012

Best answer: I'll address your #1 item: shoes.

Pointy toes are not the only thing that helps short legs look longer. Those Doc Martens (love my Docs!) may have pointy toes, but they have a high vamp, so they're shortening your leg.

High vamp vs. low vamp

Essentially, things covering the top of your foot make your legs look short and stumpy. So Oxfords are terrible for short legs. You want to expose as much of the top of your foot as possible.

For walking in New York, or long walking holidays in European cities, I like Dansko shoes. They make sandals that--while they have ankle straps--do expose some of the top of my foot and thus make my short legs look longer. Danskos are wonderful for high arches and sensitive feet. Nurses and surgeons and hair stylists favor them.

I recently got these OTBT shoes that are super comfortable, great for high arches, and have a low vamp (excepting the cross strap).
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:20 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have found dansko shoes to be unbelievably comfortable. These might work for you.

I bought these about a week ago and just walked over a mile in them with no trouble at all. And I am not in great shape, or a big walker.
posted by fyrebelley at 4:23 PM on April 17, 2012

Twelfthing Body Glide or that Monistat gel for chub rub. (And feet, too; yes!) I NEVER wear tights; Body Glide changed my life. It can be hard to find in regular stores; I buy mine at bike stores. (Try stores that cater to triathletes/runners, too.)

The Monistat stuff, aside from the fact that it says Monistat on it and thus makes it look less awesome in my bag, smells less than the Body Glide. (Maybe it's just that my BG is ancient...) It goes on so light and vanishes so quickly that I find it hard to figure out if I've missed a spot. But it may be more readily available at, say, Target.

Both of them work great with only one application per day.
posted by Madamina at 4:34 PM on April 17, 2012

I'd suggest a long flowy black skirt, and here's a little summer secret of mine - take an old comfy pair of fishnets (want to make them comfy? - cut down the elastic waistband at the top so it it is about 2/3rds narrower than it was originally. I will still have enough stretch to stay up, but not enough to cut in and be annoying) then cut the fishnets off at the knees and wear them under the long skirt - keeps the legs from getting rubby in sticky heat, but lets lots of air in, so they don't make you sweat. bonus - wear them under a nice pair of black lacy panties, and this looks pretty racy too, so make sure you give the spouse a flash before you head out for the day!

Another trick I have for keeping cool when walking around in heat is to wear a small tank top with a thin cotton button-down shirt over top - short sleeved is good - then actually make the cotton overshirt damp, and as the water in the outershirt evaporates, it will make you cooler. The tank underneath lets you take off the outershirt for re-dampening whenever you need to. tie the outershirt at the waist to give the outfit a better shape.

Have fun!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:42 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

kitty stardust: i lived in nyc for seven years, love walking and hate heat. i don't have much to add in terms of specific clothing choices, but maybe strategy: my best combination was minimal clothes, a hat whenever possible (straw is very light, shade is awesome, black with some tule works for some goths), and frequent stops for icy drinks and a blast of AC. if i really needed a reset, maybe a movie or a taxi. i also recommend making sure you have a sunscreen you don't mind sweating in, because a shitty sunscreen generates a special kind of misery in the heat. if your schedule can accommodate it, walking early or at night can help, especially in May when it can actually cool off a little at night.

thanks tully_monster & others, i've learned from the pettipants suggestion. i'm perpetually trying to solve the thigh rub problem (when i'm not working on the splotchy legs problem). i just ordered some pettipants, and i'm keeping the lubes in mind.
posted by manduca at 5:23 PM on April 17, 2012

I don't know much about arches, but lots of NYC goth types wear low-top black Converse with no-show socks.

Do capris work for your body type and skin/exposure requirements? These (link) come in olive drab and are very lightweight and quick-dry. To me, that's key to staying cool -- a breeze or A/C will dry up the sweat if your clothing is light enough, even if the color is dark.

Along those lines, another pant that comes in dark colors but has the athletic technology to keep a person cooler than jeans do, is this one from Lululemon: studio pant.

I think you'll be okay for shirts because everything this season is featherweight and/or slub fabric, so even in black, it's not too hot. (here's one)
posted by xo at 6:02 PM on April 17, 2012

Best answer: Are you against black non-jeans? I have a pair of black skinny cargos with a tiny bit of stretch, made out of a lightweight cotton twill. Thicker than those annoying "lightweight cotton" pants at Ann Taylor and the like. Way cooler than black jeans.
posted by barnone at 6:15 PM on April 17, 2012

Look at traditional dress in hot climates; generally people are quite covered up from head to toe in loose, light fabrics. I'd nth maxi skirts or dresses as I personally find them cooler than skirts. Generally natural fabrics, such as cotton or linen work best, although some of the newer fabrics, particularly those that were developed for athletic wear have some magical "wicking" technology.

As for product recs, in preparation for a work trip to Tucson in July (that's right JULY), I bought a sun hat from a company called Coolibar.They also sell clothing that has purportedly is SPF 50 and presumably suitable for hot weather. It's not the most fashion forward clothing available, but they have some good basic pants (most available in black and/or gray) and at least one black maxi dress was featured in the latest catalog that I received. They might be worth looking into.

On the expensive side and can be a bit on the matronly side (although they've gotten better or I've gotten older) but Eileen Fisher features lots of long flowy tops, skirts, and dresses in linen or a linen blend. I ended up springing for one of their linen tanks when I was in NYC during the heat wave last July (it had to have been at least 114 out) and despite the price, it ended up being a great investment. I'm sure that there are less expensive options for linen though.

You should prepare for the worst, but it might not be bad while you're there. I remember one May trip to NYC that I froze. It was in the 50s (maybe cooler) and not quite rainy, but still that kind of damp cool weather that just chills your bones. So you never know; you could luck out.
posted by kaybdc at 6:21 PM on April 17, 2012

No to the Docs in super hot weather. Ugh.

Here are some black flats with good comfort ratings:

Sketchers Bikers

Keen Paradise

Are those completely out of the question in terms of style? (They're not my style.) If so, show me something you DO like and I might have other ideas.
posted by barnone at 6:27 PM on April 17, 2012

ugh, should have previewed. I meant that I find skirts and dresses cooler than pants (not skirts) and then I realized that you don't like skirts or dresses. So ignore or I'd nth that a pair of athletic magic wicking bike shorts under a very lightweight skirt would solve the thigh rubbing problem, while still being much cooler than a pair of jeans or leggings.
posted by kaybdc at 6:31 PM on April 17, 2012

Best answer: Mybe skip the parasol and opt for a sun hat (Coolibar hats like these offer 50+sunblock sun protection, too!). I'm sure you can find a nice black hat (my son likes the goth style, too, and has a great black hat for when he has to go outside).

A black maxi dress with a loose cover-up for your shoulders would be very cool and comfortable, and you can just wear boy shorts or bike shorts underneath if you need to against chafing (one thing, if you wear a maxi dress to the airport, TSA WILL want to pat you down!).

Otherwise, I agree that a gauzy black shirt, either by itself or over a tank top (the ones with built-in bras also work well against over-heating) and maybe some linen beach pants would be MUCH cooler than jeans. Denim will weigh you down, it's suffocating in the summer heat.

Your pointy shoes are not going to cut it, I'm afraid, for walking. The Doc Maarten's cover too much, too. They'd be hot and uncomfortable and make your feet sweat and just be miserable, like you say you've been before. One thing I do know about is heat (Floridian here).

What you want to do is flatter your bottom half more, right? My nick used to be "Legs", (honest!) so trust me when I say you can make your legs look better when you opt for UNpointy shoes. Since your legs are shorter, what you want is to show off more of your foot, which has already been covered above, and/or add a little height to your shoe. Ideally, for a flattering walking shoe, something open-toed that isn't completely flat will support your high arches (I bet you have lovely feet!) and suit your body type the best.

I will second that Keen's are FANTASTIC for walking. I have a pair of Keen's sandals that are the most comfortable shows I have EVER owned.

If none of their styles appeal to you, though, just remember that a good walking shoe is about a good fit and support where you need it, which for you means the middle where your arches are. You don't have to cover your feet up completely. Just make sure you don't wear flip flops or backless shoes. Let your feet breathe! You can even paint your toenails black to match if you want.

Don't make yourself miserable trying to cover yourself up from head to toe. You can be you and still be cool and comfortable, too.
posted by misha at 6:39 PM on April 17, 2012

Another footwear option you might consider is something like these or these. They'd be way comfortable for walking, would keep you cool and might go with your look depending on what you end up wearing. I think one of my gothy friends used to wear Vans.
posted by désoeuvrée at 6:46 PM on April 17, 2012

Bike shorts are my go-to under sundresses in summer. Cooler than pants, for sure.

I vote for a black or black-and-white striped maxi dress. You can wear whatever shoes you like underneath.
posted by elizeh at 6:55 PM on April 17, 2012

I would like specifically to combat the "I would have to wear tights" idea. Leggings or bike shorts are an option, for sure. However, my most favorite awesome thing is the slip-shorts, aka bloomers, aka pettipants as mentioned by jgirl. But mine are synthetic, and sometimes get sticky and yeast-infection-y, so I am SO GLAD to see these cotton ones! And am buying like three pairs right now. I love pettipants. Despite their stupid name.

Also yes, the Monistat chafing gel. Found next to the other Monistat products but pretty much totally unrelated.
posted by librarina at 8:07 PM on April 17, 2012

Best answer: Summertime for me means hoop skirts and corsets, it takes lots of layers to be an authentic 1860s lady. I've learned a few things.

First of all you want natural materials. Cotton and linen are summer standards for a reason. They will keep you cooler and wick the moisture away from your skin giving it a chance to evaporate and cool you down. Most cheap man made materials will just keep that sweat right next to your skin and make you clammy and miserable.

Showing more skin is not a way to stay cool. Running around in a heavy cotton dress with long sleeves is actually cooler than running around in my bathing suit. I think it's because my skin isn't getting direct sun contact. (My 1860s dress is a dark plaid, so it's not like we're talking sun reflecting here.)

Air circulation is important. I wear a snug corset up top, but my legs have plenty of breathing room with the skirt. I also carry a fan. You're into the goth thing, I'm sure you could find one in black. I love my fan so much that I bought a couple extra just to keep with me for when I don't have A/C blowing at my face (think church and the farmer's market.)

I also rock a black parasol. I'm not in the least bit goth and I have no shame using it. Yes, black attracts heat but it also blocks more sun. I have one in white too and it just doesn't do as good a job. Skin cancer runs in my family and I'd rather look odd than die.

So here's what I recommend for you:

Cotton or linen should be what you look for. The looser the better. People above have given great suggestions. Peasant blouse with a peasant skirt would be the ideal.

Get yourself a fan at the very least and a parasol if you dare. I by my fans at the local Chinese grocery store but I've seen them online.

Sorry I don't have any recommendations for shoes.
posted by TooFewShoes at 3:31 AM on April 18, 2012

What can I wear outside of black/darkish pants and black shirts?

Dark blue/navy is almost black, but is still a summer color, especially if you combine the darker pants/jeans/skirt with a lighter colored (purple?) top. Consider linen clothes.
posted by iviken at 3:39 AM on April 18, 2012

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