Summer Fashion Trends to Keep You Cool When It's Hot

Updated on November 12, 2019
Viola Horne profile image

Viola enjoys passing on the nuggets of wisdom she's collected. She has made eye contact with Robert Redford and chatted with Julia Roberts.

A long, sleek vest can add a look of elegance and femininity to a bare-bones outfit.
A long, sleek vest can add a look of elegance and femininity to a bare-bones outfit.

Long Vests are Hot This Summer

I first fell in love with the long, flowing, sleeveless cardigan at a women's event. The speaker wore black spandex top and leggings and topped them with a shimmering gown-length open tunic in Cinderella yellow. She sparkled with every move. I quickly went home and tried to find something similar. I stumbled across a long, jersey knit vest and ordered one. Then I ordered another. Now I wear them with dresses, skirts, shorts, and leggings. They add a touch of graceful elegance to my little black dress and a bit of panache to my tank top and shorts. People take a second look when I wear one, I get more compliments, and I don't sweat!

Whether you are short, tall, thin, or full-figured, adding a flowing tunic to your summer wardrobe makes hot fashion sense.

  • It covers those tiny imperfections that get uncovered in the hotter months. A muffin top here, a dimple of cellulite there—shorts, skirts, and tank tops can reveal those little imperfections that you'd rather not show off.
  • It ties together an otherwise lackluster outfit. A chic, long vest or duster can add a lightweight layer that makes a statement similar to what a jacket or blazer would do in cooler months. With the plethora of fabrics and colors, a sleeveless cape can drape you in a cool, chic statement, from minimalist to Boho or breezy.
  • It creates an illusion of long and lean. If you weren't gifted with legs that "go up to there," the vertical, flowing lines of a maxi-length sleeveless coat or cardigan draw the eye up and down your frame, creating a taller, leaner look.
  • It's versatile. A sexy, smooth, sleeveless tunic pairs perfectly with leggings, shorts, jeans, dresses or skirts. Because it's sleeveless, it doesn't do much to keep your arms warm, which is great in the heat—but if the weather suddenly turns chilly or windy, you can turn it into a wrap to take the edge off the shivers. New mothers can even use it as a nursing cover.
  • It's inexpensive. It's easy to spend hundreds on outerwear, but these inexpensive dusters don't require a huge investment. I got my sleeveless cardigan for less than $20.

Fun and flirty, the swing dress feels great when the temps heat up.
Fun and flirty, the swing dress feels great when the temps heat up.

The Swing Dress

Short and sassy, these easy-flowing dresses swing away from your body to help you stay cool on those hot summer nights. Cotton shifts are usually lined, while the jersey knit version is a single layer. When I found the bamboo fiber swing dress, I knew I had found my second skin.

  • Although there are some gorgeous long swing dresses, these snappy pieces are usually short and actually help circulate air between your thighs with the way they move air. The thighs and groin are notorious for getting hot and sweaty due to constant skin-to-skin contact in that area. Leaving skin bare can help prevent the chapping and chafing that can occur when moist skin rubs and sticks.
  • You might remember these from your youth. Little girls often call them "twirly dresses," because they spin out like an umbrella as they dance around. While I probably didn't care as much what showed when I was four, now that I'm a little more private, I like to wear a pair of matching boyshorts, just in case I want to twirl.
  • If it's not too hot, slip on a pair of lightweight, capri-length tights to help keep thighs dry and prevent you from inadvertently starring in one of those iconic Marilyn Monroe street vent poses.
  • Slip on a pair of your favorite flip flops or strappy sandals for day time, or get long, lean, and leggy in a pair of stilettos for a hot night.
  • Tip: These dresses look great whether you have a beach bod or a bit of the bulge. They look flattering on most frames.

Choose the Right Fabric

Fabric makes a big difference in the way a wardrobe piece moves and feels. The soft, slinky combination of rayon and spandex make for undulating, wave-like movement, while linen or cotton fabrics "breathe" to allow a freer flow of air, but don't offer as much swing or sway. Bamboo fiber is eco-friendly while being super comfortable and versatile—and it doesn't show off too much of what's underneath!

The T-shirt dress covers as much or as little as you want.
The T-shirt dress covers as much or as little as you want.

The T-Shirt Dress

Whether you like your dresses long or short, the t-shirt dress has you covered. Curvy celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian and Reese Witherspoon rely on this variation of the classic, casual t-shirt for everything from shopping on Fifth Avenue to showing off a baby bump.

  • According to The Arts Institutes, this form-fitting dress best falls into the country club casual dress code. When heading indoors to an air-conditioned room, add a shrug or light sweater to cover your arms.
  • The stretchy cotton fabric feels soft against the skin while the addition of spandex lets you bend, stretch and move without trapping the heat.
  • For daytime, we like the short, sleeveless version paired with a long vest for a cool, comfy look that turns heads. For casual evening wear, consider a maxi, sleeveless, backless dress.
  • Warning: The clingy properties of this dress tend to reveal any bumps or bulges from bras and undies. These dresses look best on women who are fit or slender.

The right underwear can help wick sweat away from your skin.
The right underwear can help wick sweat away from your skin.

Cooling Bra and Panties

Don't forget the summer essentials that go largely unseen: cooling undergarments. The innovative technology of these moisture-wicking bras and panties are designed to keep perspiration from accumulating and dripping down those cute crop tops, camisoles, and daisy dukes.

  • Many cooling bras feature the racerback strap style, so you can wear those sleeveless tops and dresses without bra straps showing.
  • Cooling bras are made with mesh panels and sheer support. You won't find thick padding on these.
  • The panties use cooling technology to adapt to your temperature and activity level, which can help keep you comfortable and prevent infections that thrive in moist, warm areas.

Let's Hear From You

What's Your Go-To Piece For Staying Cool and Looking Hot?

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