It’s summer in San Antonio, and while the weather folks aren’t predicting last year’s dire desert-like conditions (yet), the temperature is already racing to the triple digits. My best advice is to stay indoors and wear as little as possible. A wet washcloth sprinkled with peppermint essential oil and chilled in the freezer will do wonders on your forehead. But for those brief moments when you must step outside, here are some guidelines.
Current readers have the basics of sartorial decency down: no jorts (jean shorts, usually knee-length with a pleated waist), belly jewelry, popped collars, or sleeveless sweatshirts. Place the following on your “Don’t” list as well:
Manpris. the male version of Capri pants. Capris, which hit the back of the widest part of the calf, are a classic beach look for women. It does not translate to dudes. Don’t fall for this middle of the road option – what starts at your waist should either end at your knee (shorts) or ankle (trousers) and never anywhere in between.
Plastic shoes. When “jellies,” those childlike, plastic-weave flats, came back as all 80s fashions must, we really hit rock bottom for retro inspiration. They’re painfully pinching, cheap-looking, and retain slick puddles of sweat under your arches. Avoid an accident and choose sturdier, more breathable shoes.
Tie-front blouses. The last time anyone pulled this look off, they were on Gilligan’s Island. Coupled with today’s persistently low waists, the double length of exposed midriff is just too much.
Short shorts. The minimum acceptable leg length on shorts — for women — is 3 inches. Measure from the bottom of the crotch to the cuff, and again from the bottom of your butt to the cuff. Most body styles are flattered by a 5-inch inseam. Guys should avoid anything shorter than lower mid-thigh — no one needs an anatomy lesson.
“Who cares” T-shirts — those that commemorate charity runs, Greek life, concerts, product promotions, etc. You clearly don’t care what anyone else thinks of your fashion sense, but guess what? No one cares that you saw Blues Traveler in 1996. Plain, solid-colored, 100-percent cotton T-shirts with a variety of necklines and fit options are cheap and plentiful. Save the old ones for the gym and the yard.
Made in the Shade:
Once your closet is purged of warm-weather fashion disasters, what goes back in?
Plaid. The big check has been all over the runways for the last few seasons, but mostly for fall/winter. Yet nothing says summer like Madras or gingham. Preppy, cool, and flattering on both guys and girls, plaids look great with denim, white, or other neutral solids. Choose a tiny gingham check in navy, red, hot pink, or apple green with white for shirts and delicate sundresses. Go to the other extreme for bold Madras prints — as many sun-drenched colors as you can find — for shorts, maxi skirts and guy’s button-downs.
Natural fiber jewelry. Gold and silver glint beautifully in sunlight, but feel heavy in the heat. Crochet, lace, ribbon, and braid are lightweight and easy. Ladies, consider open-weave dangling earrings and necklaces, while a tough woven cuff looks cool on guys.
White out. White fabric reflects heat, keeping you cool, but it’s also refreshing visually. Easy to wear, it goes with anything and can be completely casual or ultra-formal. Guys who may never have thought to wear white, pair white jeans or cotton trousers with a boldly colored tee - effortless beach chic. White eyelet sundresses are summer’s LBD for women.
Linen and leather. Linen, especially unbleached, undyed linen, is infinitely breathable. Shift your focus from color to texture and look for linen with visible fibers and a rough-hewn, almost hemp-like feel. Leather accessories help bring out the toughness but preserve the simplicity. Guys, ground pale-colored linen trousers with leather flip-flops, and girls, give some weight to that floaty linen maxi-dress with a leather lanyard or set of leather bangles.
Loose waists. There’s something about peeling off your clothes at the end of the day and seeing those angry red welts where your clothing pinched you around the waist. It’s depressing. Whether standing or sitting, sweat and heat collect in the middle, making you even more hot and uncomfortable than before. Choose clothes that skim over the waist – long tanks and tees paired with skirts and shorts that hang at the hip, or empire waists that cinch under the bust. Elastic may seem like a good choice, but structured, tailored waist bands with some give actually hold up better under pressure.One last thought: In San Antonio we often take our cultural clothing influence for granted. However, there’s a reason the guayabera and huipile have been worn practically unaltered for hundreds of years: they look good and feel even better.