How to stay stylish in a heatwave

If you live in the UK – or any of the other parts of the world currently enjoying soaring temperatures – we’re going to take a wild guess that your biggest style dilemma right now isn’t how to look “cool” in the style sense: it’s just how to look – and FEEL – cool, period.

Summer, as we’ve noted, can be a wonderfully fun time for fashion, but it can also be a challenging time, too. When it’s so hot and humid that all you want to do is throw yourself into the nearest fountain, it can be hard to even think about looking stylish, so here are some quick tips to help you stay stylish in a heatwave…

how to stay stylish in a heatwave

1. Keep it simple

When it’s very hot out, the last thing you need is lots of layers and accessories to worry about: we get warm just thinking about it. Summer is a great time to embrace simple style, clean lines and uncluttered silhouettes. Floral prints are always popular, but a simply cut shift dress in a bold colour will make a statement without having to be worn with anything more than a pair of shoes, so there’s less for you to have to think about when you’re getting dressed, and less for you to have to carry around, too. Dresses are particularly easy in hot weather because the one-piece nature of them means there’s nothing to come un-tucked or require adjusting: just throw them on, and be on your way.

2. Minimal makeup

It’s not just your clothing which needs to be kept simple during a heatwave: your makeup routine (if you have one) might benefit from some paring-down too. Not only will heavy makeup clog your pores and make you feel even warmer than you were to start with, it can also look overdone on a very hot day – or start sliding off your face mid-morning, when the temperature starts to rise. Of course, we’re not saying you have to go totally bare-faced if you don’t want to, but fresh, dewy looks lend themselves to hot summer days, and don’t require too much effort, either. There’s always sunglasses if you feel the need for more coverage.

3. Breathable fabrics

Choose fabrics like cotton or linen, which will allow your skin to breathe, rather than man-made fibers which can do the complete opposite.

4. Loose clothing and comfortable shoes

Clothes that are too tight aren’t a good look at any time, but tight, restrictive clothing is particularly uncomfortable when it’s hot out, so go for looser, more “flowy” fits that won’t chafe. Remember, bodies and feet can swell a little when it’s very warm out, so consider sizing up if you need to, and choose comfortable shoes with lot of wiggle room. It goes without saying that open toes and sandals will be cooler and kinder to the feet, but if you prefer to keep your toes under cover, bear point 3 in mind and look for something like a cute pair of canvas flats, which will allow your feet to breathe.

5. Cover up

It might sound counter-intuitive, but while it’s tempting to think that the answer to “what to wear in a heatwave” is “as little as possible!”, that’s not necessarily the case. If the fabric is natural, and the fit is right (See points 3 and 4), covering up can be more comfortable than stripping off – and depending on the setting, it might just look better, too.

6. Buy an umbrella

Not just for rain, a cute umbrella can be a chic way to stay in the shade wherever you are.

7.  Take care of your hair and scalp

If you have long hair, it’s probably going to feel uncomfortable around your neck in a heatwave, so now is the time to break out the messy up-do (perfect for summer days). Remember, your scalp will burn in direct sunglight, just as the rest of your skin will, so if you don’t want to spray sunscreen on your hair, invest in a shady sunhat to keep you cool and safe from the sun.


How do you stay stylish in a heatwave?

© Martinmark |


  • July 19, 2013


    I really liked the cover up advice. I do that with loose white long sleeved tops in linen or cotton and people think I’m nuts, when It actually is a better solution since the sun isn’t directly hiting the skin and warms it.

    There was a heatwave in my country last week and I had a really big problem with my hair, because I’m growing my bangs, but they aren’t long enough to put them in a ponytail. It was a nightmare.

    View Comment
    • July 20, 2013


      One thing you could try is doing what I call a two-strand French braid. You just take two bits of hair and start twisting and then on each following twist grab a bit more hair. When finished, just secure with a clip or pin. My bangs are just at my eyebrows, but I use this method to pull them back out of my face as well as the rest of my hair. It’s a very secure hairstyle too, especially if your hair is longer.

      View Comment
  • July 19, 2013


    I just carry a parasol.

    View Comment
  • July 22, 2013


    Where I live the summers always seem to be a heat wave. It helps that I don’t wear makeup, but having bangs definitely makes it hard to have a stylish hair do. Keeping the outfits flowy is a must and I always carry sunscreen. An umbrella is a good idea though.

    View Comment
  • July 24, 2013


    I go lighter on skincare. While I am usually slathered in oil like a canned sardine, I use a water-based skincare product during a heat wave or I’d get all sticky and mybe rancid, too. I do not use anything perfumed, not even a light cologne: Somehow it is unpleasant when it’s hot. And I use a canvas bag which I normally never do so I do not get a moist spot where the bag lies against my body. I hate these footlets or truncated socks or whatever they are – they never stay put – but recently I’ve come across a brand of semi-disposable insoles for shoes to keep my feet dry. They are used for four or five days, then you throw them away. While “disposable” does not sound well for the environmentally tuned ear, I only use them for a few days a year.

    View Comment