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Style Advice

How to dress stylishly in a heat wave

How to dress stylishly in a heat wave

There’s a period every summer when the glowing ball of hot gas in the sky gets especially cocky and decides to try and melt us all. Since you (probably) can’t just decamp to the beach until the heatwave breaks, we're here to help you bear outlandish temperatures as best you can. 

Keeping your cool starts with your wardrobe. The wrong clothes can leave you crimson, sweaty and in a sour mood before you’ve even shut your front door, but that doesn't mean you should throw on your shortest shorts or a barely-there vest, especially if you're heading into work (or really anywhere others have to look at you). But it is possible to look good, feel breezy and be sufficiently clothed for whatever obligation is pulling you away from the air conditioning.

Since you can't go out shirtless (no, you can't) the biggest hurdle between you and a comfortable body temperature is your fabric choice. You need things that breathe, rather than trap hot air next to your skin. Generally, that means natural materials.

Linen, cotton and seersucker are summer essentials because they're lightweight and porous, so the air circulates, rather than insulates. As well as shorts and tees, you'll find summer-ready long-sleeved shirts, jackets, and trousers all cut in those fabrics, which makes them ideal if you need to cover up even sky-high temperatures. We'd also advise taking advantage of the current trend for looser, more relaxed silhouettes, which don’t cling as much to the body.

If you can’t commit to trousers, even on a workday, you need shorts with some thought behind them. You shouldn't turn up to your office in gym shorts and a t-shirt – unless you work in a gym – so smarten up your shorts with an unstructured blazer, a t-shirt or polo, and a pair of smart slip-ons. Stick to neutral colourways to keep the overall vibe more professional and elevate your look with the smart accesories – a leather bag and a handsome watch can go a long way. 

Speaking of colours, steer clear of darks when temperatures rise – they’ll only absorb more heat and make your life less tolerable. Instead, opt for white, creams, and pale shades. Pastels are another great option if you want to weave more colour into your look and still stay cool. 

Footwear choices can also make a massive difference. Sandals aren't just for the beach anymore, but if you need something smarter, slip into some boat shoes or espadrilles – they look sharp with casual and dressy attire alike. When it comes to trainers, make sure you choose a pair made of canvas – it's a much more breathable and lightweight material than your standard leather or nubuck.

Another key step to beating the heat is shielding yourself from the sun. On peak summer days, you should approach accessories the same way you would if you were at the beach – just reach for smarter ones that you can incorporate seamlessly into your everyday look. A hat, like a wide-brimmed trilby or even a baseball cap, and a pair of sunglasses won't only tie your look together, they'll help keep the rays at bay. And don’t forget to lather on the sunscreen before leaving the house. The only thing more torturous than boiling temperatures is beetroot skin.

Words: Allison Pavlick
Photography: Jamie Stoker
Styling: Freddie Kemp
Styling assistant: Toby Standing