Modest Dressing: Stay cool without baring all
Many women choose to dress more modestly, whether it’s for religious reasons or simply personal preference. Motives aside, most modest dressers face the same fashion issues. That is why I’m so excited to bring to you a series of blog posts all about dressing conservatively…starting with this one!
Since it’s still hot in many parts of the country, I want to give you my top 5 tips to staying cool- without baring it all.
Tip #1: Choose fabrics wisely
Searching a garment of clothing for a fabric content tag isn’t something we necessarily do when buying clothing- but it should be if you’re trying to stay cool.
Generally, natural fabrics like cotton, linen, flax, bamboo (usually in the form of rayon), etc. tend to breathe more than synthetic (or man-made) fabrics. The exception to this being performance fabrics that are specially made for exercise (spandex and lycra) and wool (which is natural but very warm!).
So, what exactly do I mean by breathe more? It means that natural fabrics allow air to pass through the weave of the fabric, thus allowing the sweat to evaporate and cool your body. Materials like polyester, acetate, and acrylic (synthetics) don’t allow for air flow, leaving the sweat to pool on your skin under the fabric (ugh).
Choosing garments with the right fabric is one of the most important parts of regulating your temperature! All of your essential wardrobe basics (click here to read more about choosing the best basics!) should be chosen in the appropriate fabrics for the climate where you live.
Here’s a little cheat sheet on fabrics and which work best for hot weather!
Did you know? Legally in the US, garments must have a tag identifying their fabric source. The tag is required to be in the back neck or left side seam of all garments.
Tip #2: Lighten up
Darker colors absorb light while lighter colors reflect light. This means that a black shirt is going to absorb the sun’s heat and a white shirt is going to reflect most of the sun’s heat.
This is why you always see the same types of colors pop up every spring/summer and fall/winter! A light pink will be cooler in the summer while a burgundy red will be warmer in the winter- if you’re exposed to the sun.
This seems really obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many people chose to wear black in the summer and don’t understand why it’s making them hot!
Tip #3: Less isn’t always more (cooling)
Most people’s first reaction to hot weather is to take off as much clothing as possible. If you prefer to dress in a modest way, stripping down isn’t an option for you. AND- you’ll be happy to hear- it isn’t always the best option.
The sun’s rays are extremely powerful and can be very damaging to the skin. Keeping your skin covered is a great way to decrease the chance of skin cancers and other negative dermatological sun affects. Even walking from your parking spot to your work may result in sun damage- so it’s a good thing to cover up!
Lightweight fabrics are good options because they, not only help prevent sun damage*, but efficiently transfer sweat off your body and into the air, thus creating a cooling effect. Lightweight fabrics also dry faster, so you won’t be walking around with a soaking wet shirt all day.
The main point? Keep fabrics lightweight and make sure you have air flow (see tip #4)
*Clothing is usually not 100% effective at blocking all the sun’s harmful rays. Make sure you always wear sunscreen (even under your clothing!) when you are exposed to the sun.
Tip #4: Airflow is key
I’ve already said this a couple times, but it’s really important, so I’ll say it again. This is how sweat works: Your body senses that it’s hot and starts sweating. The sweat then evaporates into the air and the process of evaporation cools the body.
Obviously, this means that the less air exposure, the less evaporated sweat (making you hot and wet) while the more air, the more evaporated sweat (leaving you dry and cool).
Long story short: airflow is good AND the more airflow the better.
When you are putting together outfits, make sure there is plenty of air flow, and specifically, as much air as possible in between your skin and any garment. This is why loose tunics, skirts, and wide leg pants are all great options.
If you live in an area of the world that is hot most of the time, take potential airflow into consideration whenever you’re shopping for anything- but most importantly- those basics that make up your wardrobe (see more about the 20 essential basics here).
Hint: Want to tuck in a shirt or belt it? Choose a shirt with wider sleeve holes or a more open neckline. This ensures that air can still come enter through some other access point than the bottom of the shirt.
Tip #5: Add excitement with jewelry
For a lot of us, adding a scarf or creative layering clothes can be a great way to add interest to an outfit. However, in the heat of the summer, a scarf seems out of place (unless it’s a hijab) and layered clothes are too hot.
So, how do you keep your outfits from being too blasé? Let jewelry have its moment!
Long necklaces easily replace scarves and spice up outfits without trapping any heat. The also visually act the same as scarves as they tend to elongate the body making you look more slim and tall.
Earrings, bracelets, and rings are a great way to add in the dark colors you love- but maybe don’t want to swath yourself in this time of year.
Bonus: summer jewelry is an inexpensive and easy way to experiment with new colors and trends with minimal commitment.
LASTLY, here are just a few outfits to give you a little warm weather inspiration!
What is your favorite outfit to wear when the weather gets hot? Share in the comments below!