Help me with my own personal climate change.
June 12, 2018 1:18 PM   Subscribe

I recently moved from LA to DC. Help me cope with dressing for the climate.

I love DC so far! But the dress code seems much more formal than I'm used to (especially interviewing for office work) - think Ann Taylor all the time. With pantyhose. I'm much happier in yoga pants or unstructured jersey dresses, and... that's not going to work anymore.

I have NO CLUE how to dress professionally for commuting on the Metro when it's 80 degrees and raining.

I'm looking for:

Makeup tips - How do I not melt between home and my destination?
Hair help - I don't know if it's the climate or the water but my 2c/3a curly hair is now greasy, dry AND frizzy at the same time.
Interview wear - I need all-season interview wear that will survive all this, but is also somehow affordable. What kind of fabrics should I be looking for?
Shoe advice - Rain boots with a dress? To an interview? HOW.

Complicating all this is I'm 5 feet tall and around 135 lbs (I carry most of it below the waist/apple shape)

Personal experience, links to products/clothing/advice would help so much. Thanks!
posted by Space Kitty to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Made this same move about 15 years ago, and the difference in weather was really tough to get used to. As a man I can't address a lot of your questions, but get used to carrying an umbrella with you. You'll have late afternoon thunderstorms all summer due to the humidity and jackets just make things worse in the heat.

Most of the women I knew wore tennis shoes while commuting and carried their work shoes in their bag until they were needed. That might cover the rain boot issue for you too.

When winter approaches don't make the same mistake I did and buy one really heavy coat. It doesn't really get as cold there or snow as often as you might guess from an LA perspective; I never wore the one I bought in the five years I spent there. Dressing in layers is the way to go.
posted by InfidelZombie at 1:37 PM on June 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't know if it's the climate or the water but my 2c/3a curly hair is now greasy, dry AND frizzy at the same time.

It's the climate. It sucks. Exact product recommendations will be tricky because everyone is a little different, but make sure you're not overwashing/drying out your hair trying to compensate for the greasiness, as a lack of moisture will make your reaction to the humidity even worse. If you're not using a deep conditioner at least every two weeks, you might try it out. You may find Frizz Forecast useful in deciding when to wash and which kinds of products to apply.

For interview wear: lightweight and sleeveless rayon tops with a wicking camisole underneath can be dressed up pretty easily with a blazer or jacket, are reasonably tolerable for hot Metro rides provided you take your jacket off, and continue working into cooler weather with cardigans. Uniqlo has some affordable options to try out -- their Airism line is great for undershirts, and there's a location at Union Square.
posted by halation at 1:41 PM on June 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

For makeup, use a face primer and/or a setting spray. Nyx, Elf, and the Sephora in-store brand all have good, inexpensive options. (You can often get samples of various higher-end brands when you order from Sephora as well.) Carry blotting papers, too.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 1:42 PM on June 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

Nthing blotting papers, and use a good face powder. Use waterproof mascara if you don't already. Be careful of leather shoulder bag straps as the dye may crock off on your clothes if you are sweaty or get caught in the rain.

Carry a hanky with you to wipe sweat from your face, neck, and hands. Do not use tissues -- you'll get tissue bits on your face!

Be strong of heart, for fair and wonderful October will come!
posted by jgirl at 1:55 PM on June 12, 2018

Taking the jacket off is key. My blazer today is great for summer. It’s 55% Viscose 45% Linen and I found it for a song at a thrift shop and it has enough blend to keep the wrinkles away.

Many dresses will work, as well.

Use your water bottle to stay cool -freeze it when it’s half full, then fill it in the morning and use the coolness on your wrists while you wait on the platform.

Pack a fan in your bag to move the air around & keep your wrists moving.

Wear you hair up. Put on detailed makeup and pantyhose at the office or at restroom near your interview site. Slipshorts can reduce chafing, and layers are how we get it done in 4 seasons of weather.

Best wishes & sending cool vibes as you interview
posted by childofTethys at 2:20 PM on June 12, 2018

Corporette has been a really helpful resource for me in learning much of the same. These topical posts are mostly great, but also the comment section is a goldmine of women (primarily lawyers) who have a lot of expertise on more conservative professional industries and will happily provide help on whatever.
posted by mosst at 2:28 PM on June 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

Also, my "professional" rain shoes are flats like these. Okay, yes, they're technically crocs, and your tolerance for that may vary, but I like them because they can get wet no problem and they're subtle enough to wear until whenever I get a chance to change.
posted by mosst at 2:32 PM on June 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Another +1 for halation's tank-and-jacket layering advice. Or keep a cardigan at the office if the AC is really cold.

I wore a lot of long, loose-fitting, wide-legged linen (or linen-blend) pants to avoid the whole skirt-and-hose thing. You can totally get away with it if you have stylish flats (or like a kitten heel, but I'm a baby about my feet and never wore heels) and a good pedi (for sandals). Wear a cute tee or tank untucked. I worked in a creative field, but I never had any problem with meetings at law firms, more corporate or government places, etc. Stuff like this:
» L.L.Bean wide-legged cropped pants
» Land's End, striped and plain wide leg pants
» J.Jill linen crop pants
» J.Crew surplus pant
» Banana Republic
» Gap, long and cropped
» Old Navy
posted by mon-ma-tron at 2:41 PM on June 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

The fashion blog The Work Edit may have some advice that would be useful to you. The blog goes back about 10 years, and while I think the author now lives on the West Coast, she started the blog under the name Capitol Hill Style, back when she worked as a staffer. It's a bit challenging to navigate, but searching via google search has turned up a few useful posts:
- Why I switched to rain shoes
- Intern Style: 15 Easy Pieces (not saying you're an intern, but if you need to build up a DC wardrobe quickly...)
- Five Work Shoes Even an Intern Can Afford
- Building a Wardrobe Archives
- Hot and Humid Hairstyles

It's been a couple of years since I followed the blog (now that I'm back in California and out of hot & humid DC! ), but lots of good stuff there!
posted by Jaclyn at 2:43 PM on June 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

This is all so helpful, keep it coming!
posted by Space Kitty at 5:19 PM on June 12, 2018

I like these shoes for summer rain--they're made from a recycled plastic bottle fabric, so they're somewhat water resistant and dry really quickly, but they're very comfortable for walking. They probably could work for office wear, depending on the office, and for interviews, you could take them off when you arrive (they don't take up too much space in a bag).
posted by pinochiette at 6:37 PM on June 12, 2018

FWIW my dry medusa ringlets have become greasy too in the last few years as perimenopause hit
posted by brujita at 9:32 PM on June 12, 2018

I apologize, I have to revise my crocs flats recommendation from above - they're actually these, but in black, and that matters because the ones I previously linked to have a fabric footbed that would probably be no fun in rain. Mine are 100% plasticy croc material that soaks up no water at all.
posted by mosst at 10:43 AM on June 13, 2018

Can you afford to drive or cab it to interviews in gross weather? Solves the hair, makeup, and shoe issues.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:38 AM on June 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't have a car, and miraculously public transit is often faster & def. cheaper than an uber/taxi!
posted by Space Kitty at 6:18 AM on June 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Some degree of melting is kind of inevitable. People generally understand.

This thread has some great tips. Here are some broader survival strategies:

- Try to make your appointments before noon, and leave the house early to travel in lower temps. When 75 feels like 80, every degree counts.
- If it's too early for your appointment or it's after noon, wait somewhere nearby that has AC, cold drinks, and seating. Maybe you could touch up your makeup there. This might be a cafe but check it out first because, depending on where you are, not all the cafes have seating (or proper AC). If you are going to a government building you may be able to wait inside, but not if someone has to get you through security.
- If you haven't, download an app that helps predict buses and trains (delays).
- Don't eat or drink hot things less than an hour before you leave.
- Walk or wait in the shade. This sounds like a stupid tip but I have seen so many people in business attire walking up the sunny side of the street when there's a shady side and it's 85 out. DC has lots of beautiful trees.
- That umbrella you're going to want to carry for sudden downpours can double as shade.
- Hydration. It feels like it won't help when the humidity is oppressive and sweat doesn't seem to evaporate, but it does help. Sips of ice water from your half-frozen bottle will also feel amazing.
- Let yourself acclimate a little more. Don't set your home AC to arctic, except for when you're getting ready for your appointment.

Good luck!
posted by zennie at 6:12 AM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

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