How to get dressed when it's too hot for clothes

3 conceptual ideas

New York hit Nick Lachey (98) degrees last Tuesday. I hear that today, tomorrow, and the one after that won’t be too different and while I don’t know where in the world you are, I suspect that at some point, you have felt the sensation of it being too hot for clothes. You know the sensation, right? It’s like when you’re in clothes and just think to yourself, “Damn, I think it’s too hot for these clothes.”

If you’re in Europe, you probably do not have the reprieve (or wrath depending on your preference or circumstance) of extreme air conditioning — that which creates the classic American paradox of simultaneous too much and not enough-ness — to interrupt the fundamental conundrum. This conundrum, to be clear, is the one where you shvitz on the one hand but are in dire pursuit of a sweater on the other. The solve for your second hand does seem as simple as a big enough bag to store a sweater (you tell me if I’m oversimplifying) but here for when you’re in open air is a 3-part pass at building theoretical templates to help you figure out what to wear when it’s too hot to think about what you should wear.

Theory 1: Public pajamas

Cotton tank top + airy pants = the socially acceptable way to wear pajamas in the square

Entireworld tank top, I don’t know who makes the pants, I bought them on a weird shopify store after stopping a woman in a coffee shop several years ago to ask where she got her pants; she told me from “a beach shack in Mallorca,” but generously let me look at the label, which redirected me to…not a beach shack in Mallorca but a Paypal optimized website somewhere that found me the pants. The shoes (and clutch — here are two comps from Vestiare Collective) are both by The Row.

A plain cotton tank (a tee works, but if you’re going this route, keep it a straight/wide hem —Kule’s modern is my fav for this — will look better with the pants left untucked, and it should be left untucked — perpetuates the laidback vibe more precisely) with the lightest weight pants you can find in your wardrobe.

The logic

Such a lightweight tank will simultaneously absorb your sweat and also dry in record time.

Same thing, mostly, for the pants, but they require a bit more commentarial wind (I am extremely surprised to find that commentarial is a real word) because it’s not as simple as just like, slapping linen pants onto your legs. I get the allure — they’re delicate and precious and delightful and formal-looking enough to wear to work, but the thing is, and maybe this doesn’t bother you at all, linen wrinkles so quickly and abruptly. Sometimes I don’t care (certain pants actually look better when they wrinkle), but sometimes I do, which is when I go for a more durable fabric — something that seems like it’s looking for trouble, is designed to be fucked with, orders pasta with sauce, eats it without a lap napkin, enjoys an oil stain, might jump in the pool later, etc.

These r drop crotch, which helps with the avoiding wrinkles thing but probably makes them a less relevant option if you’re looking to dress for work and you work in a corporate setting (for those, I might suggest these?) but for a non-corporate occasion, I’d really recommend exploring pajama pants (hello — also, you should wear these on a first date, alternatively, here’s a more formal possibility), beach pants (love U, and, damn, you) and asking random people you see on the street who makes what they’re wearing.

The fanfare

Outfit = casual, so accessories are dressy. I like an evening clutch before noon and some bracelets that seem too literal when I consider whether I’d wear them with an evening gown. Particularly hopped up on necklace (Jenna Blake) in this one: something about a tank top with a short necklace. Might be among the only instances where a necklace actually makes your neck look longer? And overall, your stance a bit taller?

Dainty shoes, barely-there because that’s the great thing about pants in the summer. If and when you wanna look like you’re barefoot, you can feign the illusion with flip flops or wtvr.

In greater sum: super casual lightweight layers of clothing with formal jewelry and sandals = what to wear when it’s too hot to think about what to wear but still you have to run errands or pick your kids up from camp or are simply meeting a friend who is in town for the first time since 2019. Lol, 2019. Remember?

Theory 2: Vaca clothes, city vibez

Super wrong-feeling vacation clothes, still + super on-the-nose city accents = one way to wear your vaca clothes without taking yourself out of context

Per the initial inquirer’s question, I am assuming when she said vacation clothes, she meant clothes you could wear to the beach, which tend to be where one goes to beat heat or at a minimum find a breeze but of course, what constitutes “vacation clothes” (i.e. things you would wear to the beach) will vary.

I tend towards extremely sheer white cotton things (great in a city context w black underpinnings) and either tiny shorts that may as well be a bathing suit bottom, or no pants at all (freeballing vag).

Is it more about a beach dress for you? Sarongs and one-piece bathing suits? I might not recommend a sarong for a city as the most convenient option (though honestly, I’ve done it, it’s manageable!) but I do invite you to consider what you wear to go to the beach and then think about how you can contextualize that for a city. Maybe it’s a one-piece bathing suit that you match with jean shorts, or some trousers — a pencil skirt? Overalls? Whatever! Maybe it is in fact a full beach set in all its glory — dress, underwear bottoms, whatever it means 2 u, that gets paired with loafers (proper city shoes) to deliver the practical context.

I choose loafers as opposed to another form of city item (heavy leather bag, another kind of shoe), btw, because they’re closed foot and really gorgeously contradict the fragile beach clothes. It’s this perfect embodiment of my favorite human quality — the extent to which we are all, literally, walking contradictions. And what could more poetically assert this claim than an outfit that says “I am here to chill” and shoes that say “did you file your taxes?”

“Good summer loafers” don’t actually exist. There are just good loafers. My favorites are from Church’s, G.H. Bass and actually, these are a good contender for good summer loafer. I’m also including this link to my deodorant because I‘ve been putting it on my heels to avoid sticky sweating and blisterz.

Theory 3: The one-and-done dress

One + done = a dress

Not exactly an equation, but there are still some nuances — in partic that this option is good for people who like their upper bodies a lot and want to wear a spaghetti strap but maybe not show their legs.

On especially hot days, I find there’s nothing like the intellectual solace a sun dress provides when you’re too hot to think. There is also little else like the physical solace it provides — creating an entry point for a breeze to plugin straight through your legs.

But if you don’t want to sacrifice character — that is, to say something about WHO U R THRU UR CLOTHES — how do you wear a dress and still say a lot? Identify a balance and run with it.

It is becoming ever clearer that there is an equivalent to Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat for getting dressed, and while I have yet to nail the elements, I’m going to do it.

On the occasion of a dress (let’s call it the fat) like the one shown above, which is rendered in a dramatic fabric (probably designed to be worn to like, a waterfront baby naming), you want to turn it on its head with alternative reference points (salt!). Not necessarily opposite reference points (which might render too much or too little salt?) but different ones - there’s a difference! So if the literal pairings for a dress like this would be feminine strappy sandals (def too much salt), you don’t have to go the way of masculine loafers or chunky sandals (the more apparent opposites or obvious contrasts). Instead, you can just deviate. Not right, not wrong, just different — you know? Casual but still relatively dainty fisherman sandals for example. A straw bag to contrast the taffeta. Turquoise beads to tie up the fanfare’s broader energy and some rings for one more dose of color.

Maybe heat = the occasion. Idk. But what about the acid?

Truly, I have never wanted anything more than a handful of peanut M&Ms, so I have to go find one, but if you want to keep talking, just tap “reply!” I love when you do that.

Okay, I’m signing off your pal,

Jessie Spano