Retro Essentials: Transitioning to Summer

October was unusually hot this year and summer is peeking around the corner already. Now that the temperatures are climbing above 30, it’s going to feel less and less appealing to dress properly. While I’m not about to jump on the cut off jeans shorts, thongs, and glorified sports bra brigade, adjustments will need to be made. So let’s have a discussion about how we can translate the various retro styles into more summer friendly options.

Things to get rid off: stockings, heavy cardigans, items in polyester or other plastic like materials, knitwear in general.
Unless your dress code at work requires you to wear some sort of stockings, give them up. If your dress code do require you to wear them, I’d honestly put them in my bag and get to the office a few minutes early so that I could put them on in an air-conditioned environment. If you have a bigger budget than me, you might want to look into getting silk stockings as they breathe better than both regular ones and nylons. You’re essentially walking around with plastic wrappers on your legs.
That’s also why you should have a look at the labels of your other clothes, if it’s all polyester or has a very high percentage of spandex/elastane/viscose/latex or similar materials, you might want to put it back in the closet.

Same thing goes for anything knitted or heavy, but I don’t think I need to tell you that a knitted sweater might not work for 40 degree temperatures. However, I know that the modern versions of pinup and rockabilly wear have a minor obsession with cardigans. Replace the regular cardigan with one of those lace options or one that’s at least not solid. I also know that a lot of people aren’t too fond of their upper arms (myself included) and therefor like to keep them covered. Firstly, your arms seldom look as big to other people as they do to you. Secondly, if you really do want to use fabric to create the illusion of smaller arms, try cap sleeves. They’re far less restricting, less heavy, and still do the trick in terms of fooling the eye.

Here’s an example of a dress with sleeves that won’t make you drown in sweat

Simple tricks: Pony Tails
I have thick long hair, that’s usually a blessing. Except in summer. In summer, it becomes a built in scarf. Put your hair up in a pony tail or braid, just a simple one. It means that your neck stays, well, ventilated. I’d also recommend considering getting your hair thinned out or cut shorter. Don’t do too many elaborate or heavy hair styles, hair that piles up on the top of your head can serve the same function as a hat in winter. Pony tails, braids, and a simple bun maximises the “free” space on your neck and scalp while keeping the hair out of the way and in control.

Items to purchase: maxi dresses & skirts, cotton dresses, halter necks, sandals, and things that flow.
Dresses and skirts that cover your legs are effectively a lower-body parasol, they literally serve as a shield against the sun. Keep them in lighter fabrics, try striving for an a-line or something that gives you a bit of room without being shapeless. They’re one of your best allies. Cotton is a good material since it breathes, is rather durable, and is truly versatile. Halter necks are good in that they keep your arms free while still providing a genuine vintage look and often tend to be designed for warmer temperatures. Sandals are a bit DUH, but your feet, hands, and neck are some of the areas that I find do a lot to cool you down.

This dress is an example of a dress with a good skirt for summer, good sleeves, and a good neckline. Be careful with the fabric though.

What do I mean by things that flow?
Again, this is a matter of ventilation to be honest. No, I don’t think you’ll see fashion designers starting to use that word to sell their clothes any time soon… Fabric that clings to you soaks up literally any sweat, it also makes it more difficult for fresh cool air to reach your skin and can even serve to trap heat (your body actually radiates heat and you don’t want to prevent it from getting away from you). So put those wiggle dresses back in the closet for cooler days. Circle skirts are a good option, as are a-line skirts or dresses. By combining a button up blouse that has some room in it with a circle skirt (no petticoat) and a belt, you’re still able to keep one of the truly iconic vintage looks intact without sweating to death. The image below is an example of a summer look that is still cool without being informal or too modern.

And this is an example of a look that works for any season

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