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Your guide to dressing in a heatwave

Your guide to dressing in a heatwave

If you haven’t yet experienced that scorching time of year when wearing just about anything seems unbearable, just know it’s coming. And we’ll go out on a limb and guess you’re not spending the bulk of your summer on a nude beach or next to an open freezer, so finding cool, breathable clothes is essential. 

Enter stylist Toby Standing, a stylist who self-admittedly thrives more in the cold-weather months than the hot ones. “I never feel more comfortable or confident than when I’m able to throw on my favourite big overcoat and stomp out into the rain with a pair of boots on,” he says. “So, when the prospect of a heatwave (in London, no less) comes around, I tend to follow a very specific approach to getting dressed.” 

Read on for his hot-weather styling tips and clothing recommendations. Finding a shaded place to wear them is still strongly encouraged.

Keep it casual

Something none of us need in a heat wave? Stuffy, formal, stifling clothing – think ties and leather shoes. Luckily, we live in a whole new world when it comes to flexible working and dress codes (remember those?). So instead of your trusty suit and tie, go in a more casual direction. 

This is where t-shirts, short-sleeved shirts, and shorts come in strong. And despite what you may think, all of the above can look elevated, even for work. Sticking to classic silhouettes and neutral colours is key – as is leaving the flip-flops at home.


Don’t go slim fit

Skinny jeans have no place in a heat wave – or anywhere really, Toby would argue. That's why one of the cardinal rules of hot-weather dressing is avoiding anything too tight. During a heat wave (and in generally hot weather), you’ll want to stock up on clothes that are breathable and relaxed – keeping the air flowing is key. 

And luckily, there is no shortage of loose-fitting, lightweight tees, shirts, shorts, and trousers to choose from – especially this time of year.  

Consider your fabrics

“I may harp on about summer knitwear and cardigans till the cows come home, but a heatwave really is the place to be bringing out your most summery of summer fabrics,” Toby says. Linen is always no-brainer when temperatures soar – it’s breathable, lightweight, and generally affordable. It’s also one of the most sustainable fabrics out there. Big win.

Another fabric Toby champions? Viscose – made from wood pulp, meaning it takes on a silky, lightweight feel (also at an affordable price). 

Lastly, reach for seersucker. It was originally designed to be worn in the high heat of Indian summers, and it does the job well. Plus, it’s difficult to wrinkle. Another win. 


Colour is key

Photographed: Adsum Shade Climbing Short (£129)

“On searingly hot days, it’s best to avoid dark clothes (this is hard for me to advise as a Goth, but it’s true),” Toby says. Bright colours and neutrals absorb far less heat than darker clothes – this includes your navys and midnight greens too.

So why not use this as an opportunity to experiment with some bright colours? We’ve rounded up our favourite shades of the season in this article. We highly recommend some sunflower yellow – an easy (and cheerful) one to start with.  

Lean on accessories

After you’ve applied (and reapplied) the requisite factor 50, the next step is to make sure you’re protecting your head and eyes with the right accessories – a hat and sunglasses to start. 

And don’t forget to finish your look with a canvas tote bag – that way you’re not weighing down your shorts by loading your pockets with all your belongings. It’s also an excuse to take a water bottle on the go. You’ll need it.


Words: Allison Pavlick
Styling: Toby Standing