In an ideal world, when the thermostat soars above 90 degrees and humidity reaches Rain Forest of Death levels, we’d all zip to beach houses and mountain retreats and slip into something more comfy, say, a bikini made of ice packs.
But the reality of summer means women need to think before they (a) strip down to the least amount of attire possible (no iPad-sized miniskirts!) or (b) ignore the outside weather and don anything that’ll raise their body heat more than a nanodegree.
“The challenge is finding the right materials — knits, jerseys or cottons — that feel great when it’s so hot,” says Elizabeth Mason, owner of Periwinkle boutiques in northern Virginia.
This means ditching the “tropical” wool suits, which really aren’t for four-season wear when that fourth season hits 90-plus degrees. Ditto pantyhose, if you wear them. For feet, if sandals, or at least open-toed shoes, are an option, wear them — you’ll avoid some of the blister and sweaty-feet issues of pumps or boots.
“If you’ve got a good pedicure, it’s nice to have the wind blowing through your toes,” Mason says.
Color matters, too. While a little black dress might usually rule your wardrobe, donning anything dark in August amounts to the fashion equivalent of standing on asphalt in the midday sun.
“White or a bright color is going to make you feel cooler,” says British fashion expert Caroline Cox, author of the style guide “How to Be Adored” (Collins, $20).
Many women ditch their pants when the mercury soars (and not in a Lady Gaga way), by choosing dresses over trousers or jeans.
“Nothing is more comfortable this time of year than a breezy dress,” says Washington style blogger Makeda Saggau-Sackey.
That’s because frocks boast built-in air conditioning (unlike your denim jeans) and can often go to work without a blazer or cardigan.
“You just feel less encumbered in a dress,” Mason says. “I don’t even wear jeans from April until October.”
Dress options range from a thigh-skimming sheath to a sidewalk-brushing long gown. “Maxi dresses are great summer uniforms,” Cox says. “They suit most ages, most heights, and they really come across as glamorous.”
As for jewelry:
“People feel like they can put more on in the heat,” Cox says. “But think wooden bangles, not huge, hot cuffs.” Saggau-Sackey goes minimalist. “I skip super-chunky necklaces and put on single one-strand long ones.”
No matter how cucumber-cool your outfit, a greasy face and droopy hair can wilt you faster than a gelato cone dropped on a sidewalk.
“The more you sweat, the more oil your skin produces,” says McLean, Va., makeup artist Diana Carswell. “Mattifying products make your face less shiny.”
Carswell also loves powder foundations, since they don’t add goopy moisture in the swelter. And for touch-ups, she swears by Palladio rice powder sheets ($6).
And if nothing can keep you chilled and chic, just stay inside thumbing through fall fashion mags and dreaming of sweeter, sweater-wearing days ahead.