Summer ’17 wardrobe planning, part 1: Mood and strategy

Summer ’17 wardrobe planning, part 1: Mood and strategy

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 …

(Fashionary sketchbook via Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Winter 2017 wardrobe

29 thoughts on “Summer ’17 wardrobe planning, part 1: Mood and strategy

  1. Oh, the air conditioning can make it hard! I always have a spare cardigan in my car in the summer — otherwise, going grocery shopping can be almost painful.

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  2. Love your thoughtful wardrobe planning. My summer go to is a linen dress and sandals. But I’m challenging myself to add wide leg linen pants and a tank top. And, gasp, linen shorts. My summer trouble is I rely on layering and hot summers don’t allow it. So I’m pondering how to create layers with accessories in summer, maybe a long necklace is my summer layer? Love this post.

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    • Right — I am not myself without layers! Right now I’m wearing a t-shirt over a dress. The only way I feel at home in a dress is if I pretend it’s a skirt and throw some kind of top or vest over it (as in any dress post I’ve ever put on the blog, just realized) — but then it’s like the most magical outfit ever, best of both worlds. So I’m figuring it out!

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  3. it’s interesting to read your thoughts – when summer comes, my girly goes full blast, with floral skirts and sandals as my go-to clothes, such a relief after winter and all the dark colors and thick layers. Especially when winter takes over spring as it has here – today I am in wool socks, cardigan with my work clothes. I dream of temps warm enough to warrant getting my spring and summer clothes out.

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  4. I’m with you on the challenges of summer — I actually find it more difficult than the long, cold winters up here in MN, the unending humidity just melts my brain. I found my groove last summer with a linen jumpsuit — cool to the touch (linen), baggy enough to be breezy (wide legged), not too girly (pants instead of skirt), plus pockets and ease of layerability. But your summer mood board looks great! Did you see the linen “summer coat” that Liesl Gibson posted recently? If it fit my lifestyle, that would jump to the top of the queue!

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  5. Have you thought about culottes? The cropped wide leg silhouette is super popular right now and gives that skirt feel of not being too close to the body but doesn’t have to feel so feminine. I’m the opposite of you and feel like summer is where I shine, dresses and cardigans and sandals galore and meanwhile the idea of wearing pants all winter long makes me sad. Which is probably why my knitwear is so colorful because I hate wearing pants when it’s cold.

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    • Yeah, I’m good on cropped wide-leg pants, especially with the addition of the black linen pair last month. Your rationale about bright knits to offset your winter doldrums makes perfect sense.

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  6. I happened to have just been searching “linen” on Craftsy.com, looking for yarn actually, but interestingly up popped all sorts of things. Then I read your blog. I went back to get two links for you.
    The pants reminded me of a shorter version of your Ulla pants pin. Enjoy:

    https://www.craftsy.com/sewing/patterns/linen-dress-slip-dress-pdf-sewing-pattern-tiled/278087

    https://www.craftsy.com/sewing/patterns/classic-linen-pants-loose-fit-no-zipper-/235050

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  7. Thank you Karen!!! I have been trying to”re-vamp” my closet — keeping things that will truly fit into my desire for the classic basics w/ a bit of a modern twist. Your summer board has inspired me to purchase a cotton/linen blend yarn to knit that summer (LOL indoor) cardigan AND to get the summber fabrics out of my stash and begin the sewing journey of a few camisoles and a wonderful “go to” black linen smock/dress.

    Now to be disciplined to make all this happen….. :))

    Cheryl
    A Single Blue Thread

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  8. Re your linen/cotton coat/jacket, did you ever decide on/make up the kimono inspired indigo piece? Maybe that would fit the need?
    My climate challenges: House cold in winter – usually take off layers to go out as everywhere else is too warm for my house gear. One bout of melanoma means no sun for me and sunscreen is gross so I have to completely cover to enjoy the brightness and heat of summer, but I’m ready for the AC in the grocery store.

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  9. I’m in the same boat as you with summery clothes… get that frilly, loud-colored nonsense far away from me, please. So it was really wonderful reading this! I don’t have anything to add to your strategy–I think it’s great–but consider this a bit of solidarity.

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  10. Going through the same process here, except that it’s still wool socks weather and frost in the morning. Bought a whack of beautiful fabric last weekend and am in the midst of sewing a summer wardrobe from Sonya Philip’s 100 Acts of Sewing. In cream, blue-grey, grey and black–will look great with my denim jacket. Also designing and knitting the perfect (for me) lightweight cardi to throw over things when there’s a chilly breeze off of Lake Ontario. And I totally agree with you about dresses and skirts in the heat, which we will eventually experience without the benefit of air conditioning.

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    • I have decided that the 100 Acts of Sewing patterns fill my summer wardrobe needs too! Like Karen, I don’t like anything too girly and really love simple shapes. Sonya’s designs are the right fit for me style-wise-loose and breezy but not frilly. Sewing them in linen and lots of black…

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  11. I have a bit of a love hate thing with summer too – I love the green and the ability to go out without putting on a million layers, but I hate being too hot. And I’m going to put this out there – if you are not in possession of a thigh gap, skirts + humidity are simply yucky. I asked M&S to consider adding summer longer leg knickers/pants to their range as to my mind that is the only way to make skirts a pleasant option for walking around in! In the meanwhile linen trousers – until I’ve drafted and made my own summer skirt knickers….
    Btw love the sketch of the sleepless top with ‘sweatshirt pockets’ .

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