Summer taken you by surprise? Can’t remember how to dress when it’s hot? Haven’t a clue whether boho is a yes or a no-no? Worry no more. It’s W&W’s definitive guide to summer…
A – Arms
As the mercury rises, the common call of the over-30 year-old woman can be heard ringing out around the country. “Why oh why don’t I have arms like Jennifer Aniston? Why, oh why have I not been doing those exercises with a can of baked beans that I first saw Cindy Crawford do in a workout video circa 1992? Why oh why, now that the sun is out, the only dresses I want to wear are the ones with no sleeves? Just what on earth is going on with my arms?” It’s the same every year.
B – Boho
You’re a minimalist, you like clean lines and a bit of structure. You shop at Cos, you’d love to own a bit of Jill Sander, your winter wardrobe is an ode to chic, tasteful style. But then, the sun comes out and immediately you yearn to dress like Sienna Miller during her Jude Law period. You end up looking like Neil from the Young Ones. Step away from the boho ladies, step away from the boho.
C – Country (as in move to…)
You love the city, you love the ease with which you can walk out your door, grab a coffee and stroll to the shops. You can even convince yourself that you love the ‘reality’ and ‘gritty mix’ of your up-and-coming urban neighbourhood (whilst at the same time praying that the local ‘chicken shop’ will close down to replaced by a Waitrose). But then, the nights grow longer, the days heat up and suddenly the sweaty old city just seems a little..dirty. Hours are spent staring at Primelocation, checking out commuter routes and dreaming of chucking it all in to run an organic farm in Devon. It happens Every. Single. Year.
D – Dodgy tan lines
Yes, you. You with the bright red shoulders and white strap marks poking out of your bandeau top, I’m talking to you. If you must sunbathe (see T for tanning) then please remember to think of your marks, dodgy tan lines are never a good look. And while we’re on the subject, those cut-out swimsuits, sure they look great on a hot bod around the pool in Ibiza, but honestly is that dodgy tanned circle on an otherwise lily-white tummy really worth it?
I dream of a time when I can throw an annual summer party, complete with catering, candles and canapes. There’d be tipis on the lawn, dancing in fields, fire pits and music. People will put the date in the diary as soon as I announce it, everyone will talk about it, it will be amazing, glorious, unmissable! Until then, I’ll have to stick with a last-minute bbq in the back garden, an ipod playlist and a bottle of rose (see R).
F – Flip-Flops
Should you wear them outside of your own garden? Is there an age limit on them? Are they just too chillaxed? Is there even a word ‘chillaxed’? Do you even care? Bring them out with the kids, for the supermarket, the beach, the park…Just make sure to slip on a pair of sandals for the office, parties and weddings (unless, of course, it’s on a beach, in the park or in the supermarket, then by all means, go wild).
G – Grooming
Oh ladies, it’s time to up your game. Yes,during winter you can let everything slide, let those legs grow scaly, those armpits go hairy and those toes turn into those of the Hobbit by all means. But the bright light of summer is a harsh critic. Obviously you can argue it’s against feminism to have to defluff and moisturise, that women shouldn’t have to shave their legs when men don’t – but then you’re a braver woman than me.
H – Holiday Envy
You thought you were clever booking that week in Devon. How retro, how cheap compared to a holiday abroad, how clever. But then, every one you know is off to France/Greece/Spain for two weeks of guaranteed sun, while you come to the realisation that British holidays really aren’t that cheap and that yes, you would even consider using Ryanair just for a blast of heat. But now, it’s too late. Everything’s booked and prices have sky-rocketed. Next year, there’s always next year…
I – Icons
Some women were just born for summer. Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Lauren, Bridget Bardot circa 1963 (in fact, all of them circa 1963). If you’re looking for more modern inspiration then think Kate Bosworth, Olivia Palermo and SJP. all of whom have summer dressing nailed.
J- Just like Tory…
As in Burch, the Queen of holiday dressing. Yes, dress like Tory and you too can live in the Hamptons, live a fabulous life and be Belle of the beach. Maybe not, but a girl can dream…
Whether you’re channelling Sienna or not (see B for boho) you need at least one trusty kaftan in your wardrobe. Not, I hasten to add, for wafting to the corner shop in, but as a beach cover-up. You won’t regret it.
L – Light Evenings
By far the best bit of summer. Early morning wake-ups courtesy of the flimsy blinds you swear to replace every year. Not so much.
M – Make up
So easy in the winter, you just slap it on and it sticks in one place. Besides, it’s dark nearly all the time, so no-one can see your dodgy foundation lines anyway. But come summer, your face turns into an oil slick and applying make-up is a whole new game. Factor in bright summer light, slidey skin (yes, that’s an official term) and your make-up routine is fraught with worry. The solution? BB/CC cream, blotting paper and powder. And, cut down on the slap. It’s the only way.
N – No School
Oh, how little I understood the horror of school holidays before I had children. But then, two small boys later, it hit me. 8 long weeks with nothing to do and nowhere to go. All the activity classes shut down (WHY??), nearly all the playcentres close (again, WHY?) and the parks are rammed. Not to mention the countless issues arising from lack of childcare and need to work. Summer holidays. Not as much fun as they were when you were at school.
O – Office Dressing
A tricky one. Summer styles (see boho) don’t translate well to an office environment (unless you work in fashion, media or by the side of a pool), meaning that you’re going to be feeling hot, hot, hot (and in totally the wrong way). Factor in no air-conditioning or too much air-conditioning and you have a sartorial nightmare on your hands. The answer? Think about simple separates, a chic dress and begging your boss for a fan.
P – Pencil Skirts
A surprisingly workable summer garment. Team with a vest top, layer on another and tuck in for that easy, stylish and flattering look you’ve been waiting for.
Q – Quintessential Summer Day
What would your quintessential summer day involve? Cucumber sandwiches, homemade lemonade and friends over for lunch? Drinks in a pub garden? Boating on the river? Lying around a pool? Whatever it is. Make it happen. These are days of which memories are made…
R – Rosé
How good does it taste on a hot summer’s day? How quaffable. How refreshing. How easy to drink another glass. And then another. Oops and then another. Another bottle? Hic! Why not….Rosé – I love and hate you in equal measure.
S – Swimwear
How old is too old to wear a bikini? I haven’t figured that out yet. Helen Mirren looks fabulous in one. Elle Macpherson looks fabulous in one (although really, that’s not much of a surprise). I think that if your stomach’s still got it, then you can rock it. Whilst designer ranges – Zimmermann, Seafolly and Heidi Klein are fab, I am a big fan of the high street and in particular & Other Stories and H&M. Cheap, chic and loads of choice.
So old-fashioned, so uncool, so TOWIE. I so do it. Not all the time and not really at home. But, on holiday, I can’t resist getting my legs out. I would love to be one of those people who has translucent white skin, but nope, that’s not me. A light tan just makes me look better. And brown legs, how good are they? Just make sure you use good sunscreen so you don’t end up looking like Magda. My favourite is by Institut Esthederm.
U – Underground
Avoid at all costs. Ditto embarking on a long drive on a hot day. So not worth it.
V – Volume
We’re talking big hair. Spray some mousse, backcomb like your life depends on it and seal with hairspray. Your summer hair look sorted (and not a hint of frizz to worry about).
W – White
So chic, so summery, so impractical. If you don’t come home at the end of the day without a coffee stain, dirty fingerprint or strange mark that you just can’t place, you’re a better woman than me.
X – X-rated
I’m talking to you Mr Workman with your top off and your beer belly hanging out. You’re not in a Diet Coke ad, you’ll never be in a Diet Coke ad and no, I do not want to see you in all your sweaty glory. However, if you do look like you could be in a Diet Coke ad, then by all means strip off (I’m all for equal opportunities when it comes to sexism).
Y – You musn’t….
I’m not generally one to throw out ‘rules’ (ha ha she says having written an A-Z of what to do during the summer), but there are a few ‘musn’t’s we all should abide to. You mustn’t wear too short-shorts (I’m talking to you with your pockets hanging out and your ovaries on show). You mustn’t forget to wear the right bra with a sheer top (the pole dancing club is thatta way). You mustn’t forget to wash your feet after a day in flip-flops. You mustn’t moan about it being too hot. You mustn’t listen to a word I say. Whadda I know?
Z – Zzzzzzz
Z. The perennial problem of the A-Z list maker (unless you work in a zoo and then you’re laughing). So let’s call this one sleep. Because, really what’s better than a siesta on a hot afternoon?