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Don't sweat it: fashion tips for keeping cool

Summer fashion has its challenges as anyone who has experienced the transition from air-conditioned office to sweltering street knows. In addition, there are backyard parties, weddings, festivals, concerts and a host of other outdoor events that require some thought on what to wear.

Below, some tips and things to consider:

1. Think fabric. Linen. Seersucker. Lightweight cotton. These are summer favorites for many. They’re absorbent. They allow air to circulate. They “breathe.” Wrinkling may be an issue.

Women have a wide selection of clothing in such summery fabrics. Cropped breezy pants. Linen dresses. Embroidered cotton tunics. And not all are sleeveless. Even making the switch from fall denim to lightweight cotton chambray (or perhaps Tencel in a washed denim hue) gives you the look of denim without the weight.

Men have choices, too, including summer suits for business, of course, but also for parties and summer events.

“You can go cotton. You can go linen or lightweight wool,” said Alan Kurtzman, of the New York Store in the Village of Lancaster.

And while seersucker suits scream summer, they don’t have a place in every man’s wardrobe. They’re a bonus suit.

“Seersucker is extremely comfortable but unless you have a lot of clothes you’re probably not going to have a seersucker suit. If you have just one or two suits, it’s not going to be part of your wardrobe,” Kurtzman said.

Photo courtesy Vinyard Vines,

2. Think color. Color is another factor in keeping cool on a hot day, especially at an event like a wedding or outdoor affair that calls for a suit or jacket.

Kurtzman offered this tip for men: “If it’s an afternoon wedding, wear a lighter color rather than black in the middle of summer with the sun beating down on you. There are tans, softer grays, a lot of mid-blues,” he said.

As fashion columnist Elizabeth Wellington recently explained in the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Lighter colors – tan, ivory, white, pastels – reflect the sunlight and that will keep you cool. Darker hues like navy and black absorb the sun and will keep you sweating.”

3. Brush up on synthetics. Synthetics have a place in the summer wardrobe as well, such as patented materials Dri-FIT (see and COOLMAX to name two.

And they’re not just for athletes.

“Today, there are all kinds of synthetics that are high-performance fabrics,” Kurtzman said. “They wick away moisture and they breathe. There is no reason why you should be uncomfortable in clothing today because there are enough choices. You can be cool – whether it’s dressy or more casual.”

BUFF USA's UV Multifunctional Headband has built-in sun protection,

In a 2015 article in USA Today on what to wear in extreme heat, Thomas M. Kostigen put it this way: “Seersucker, linen, and cotton are still acceptable lightweight materials for summer clothing as they allow air to circulate onto your skin. But 21st-century materials that have been lab tested and constructed specifically for high temperatures are far superior options. Some fabrics even feature ultraviolet blockers that protect us from the sun’s radiation,” wrote Kostigen, founder of the Climate Survivalist and a New York Times bestselling author and journalist.

BUFF USA’s UV Multifunctional Headband, for example, “offers thermal efficiency, built-in sun protection, seamless construction and the moisture-wicking performance of COOLMAX® PRO fiber.” It can be worn nine different ways everywhere from the garden and yoga studio to the bike path and hiking trail.

Lands’ End also offers beach- and swimwear in fabrics that provide UPF 50 sun protection. is another resource for finding sun protection clothing and accessories, including sun protection parasols.

Photo courtesy Old Navy.

4. Think long and loose. Longer silhouettes often are better than shorter ones, Wellington wrote in her article for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Think about it: Long and breezy or short and clingy? While you may have both options hanging in your closet, the former is the better choice.

Wellington recommends opting for “the breathable A-line, the ankle-grazing maxi, a pair of wide-legged trousers. You won’t have to keep adjusting your clothing and you will feel cooler.”

This season also serves up a staggering array of tops and dresses with off-the-shoulder styling, cut-out accents, etc. Just remember to apply sunscreen.

5. Don’t forget accessories. A wide-brimmed hat will help protect your head and face from the sun’s rays. (Tilley hats are popular for their built-in sun protection.) A switch to lightweight jewelry – if you wear any at all – will help keep you cool. And it’s definitely time to rethink your shoes.

“For spring and summer, there are fabric, mesh and woven styles that allow air to circulate,” said Sue Marfino, owner of ShoeFly on Elmwood Avenue.

There also is a lot of technology in things like antimicrobial foot beds to combat odor, she said.

“Some of the better technology in leather or suede insoles will also help absorb perspiration vs. choosing cheap synthetic shoes,” she added.

Remember, too, that women’s sandals are available in an array of styles – from casual to dressy.

You can dress up and still wear a cute, cool sandal and be comfortable – and appropriately dressed, Marfino said.

Just remember one key word: pedicure.

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