Nashville slid from a very mild winter into a very early summer — we’re talkin’ 88° and humid in mid-April — so my wardrobe planning is likewise skipping right past Spring … into Summer, ugh. I know the conventional wisdom is that summer dressing is effortless — throw on a dress and sandals and go! — but I find it infinitely more challenging, on a couple of levels.
Summer, in general, is really hard for me. In addition to finding the heat and humidity more oppressive than I can convey (it makes me literally claustrophobic and anxious by the time August rolls around), I also just don’t feel like myself in summer clothes — never have. I almost typed “… never will” but I’m challenging myself this year to try to solve this problem rather than resigning myself to another 3-4 months feeling that way. When I stop and think about it, I do know what the strategy has to be; the trick is to actually implement it this time.
The nut of the problem is real heat calls for dresses and skirts — clothes that touch you in as few places as possible — and dresses and skirts tend to feel too girly for me. The kind of somewhat androgynous, tomboyish looks I tend toward are harder for me to pull off in summer form, but if I remind myself how much I love a good masculine-feminine combo, that gives me something to work with. A skimpy camisole top feels more me when paired with mannish trousers; a skirt can feel more me with a muscle tee; same goes for a dress with a pair of funky/chunky sandals or just the right pair of ankle boots. Nashville, for all its population influx and diversity of sub-cultures, is still a place where nobody thinks twice about anyone wearing boots on any day of the year. (This may be the one thing Nashville and the Bay Area have in common: year-round boots.) And let’s face it: In a place this hot, most of the day is necessarily spent indoors anyway, where we run into the other half of what makes summer so difficult: overzealous air conditioning. Dressing for simultaneous bipolar climates is maddening to me.
So the other trick is to think in a more deliberate way about layers for indoors that easily peel off on the way outside. Outdoor outfit + cardigan/jacket = indoor outfit. It’s not complicated, Karen. Which has me focused on that summer cardigan on my needles, the old jean jacket I don’t wear much but should, and the notion of a linen or lightweight cotton “coat” or “jacket” of some kind than can be worn like a cardigan.
Having really learned something from my Fall ’16 Mood board and thorough winter wardrobe planning — the amount of time and thought that saved me in the end — I’m officially committed to the concept. So I recently put together Summer ’17 Mood, which, quelle suprise!, features a lot of the sort of masculine-femine combos I’m talking about.
As I noted last time, my color palette never really changes: I live in black, white, natural, khaki, camel, army, denim, all the shades of blue and grey, with a spot of green or lilac here and there. One difference is I love black even more in summer than in the cold months. Head-to-toe black when we’re talking long sleeves and pants can feel somber, whereas all black with bare arms and legs is my idea of “sexy.” You can see from my summer mood board I’m in the mood for light and breezy things, in some cases paired with a more structured pant for contrast. And I’m feeling like this summer may have extra emphasis on black-and-natural in various combinations.
Next step is to look at what I have to work with as compared to how I’m wanting to dress …
PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Winter 2017 wardrobe