5 Rules for Dressing for a Heat Wave


Dear Imogen,
Could you give us a few tips on how to use the 3-piece outfit rule in sweltering heat? Thank you so much!

3rd Piece in a Heatwave


When you’re thinking about your 3rd piece in heat, it may just be an accessory like a string of beads.  At most it would be a very lightweight waistcoat over a cami.

Some general rules for dressing in sweltering heat include:

1. Think Lightweight – fabrics and accessories.  Anything heavy will make you feel hot and will be uncomfortable.  Keep your accessories lightweight.  Heavy beads will weigh you down in the heat and can make you feel very hot.  Think about adding a pair of chandelier earrings rather than a necklace if it feels all too hot and heavy.

2. Avoid waistbands – Avoid items that cling at your waist.  I know that you can create more options with separates, but often dresses are cooler to wear in really hot climates as you don’t necessarily have a waist band which cuts off the flow of air around your torso.

3. Natural fibre fabrics – Fabric is really important.  Something lightweight from a natural fibre will be way more comfortable than something polyester, which traps the heat in and makes you sweat.

4. B-String rather than a cami to ensure there are less layers

5. Hair off your neck – hair is hot, keep it off your neck and body.

Dressing in super hot weather can be very hard, particularly if you don’t like to show much skin.

Work out what you prefer to wear.  Is it shorts, skirts or dresses?  Then base your wardrobe around your favourite kind of garment to wear and add accessories as your 3rd piece to add interest and detail to your outfit.




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  • Dear Imogen,

    Thank you for the great work you put in to this blog!

    Having just gone through more than of month of extreme heat (for our region) I have a few comments to your suggestions.

    I found that my African jewellery were perfect for high temperatures. I have a necklace of horn beads, that are very lightweight. I also have a couple of braided straw bangles that are feather weight. That allows me to wear larger pieces.

    Being a full bodied hourglass I have issues with thigh rubbing and belly rolls, that I like to hide without losing my waist. So dresses without waist definition are out of the question. I go for viscose dresses with draping and ruching, in a size that lets it skim my body and not sit too tight. Sometimes I add a light weight silk shawl to cover my upper arms or a thin silk cardigan.

    At Marks and Spencer I bought some light control shape wear shorts with a low waist. That was the best I have tried so far. A high waist is not working with my waist, and most materials make my skin burn in hot weather. I’m still looking for a more comfortable bra for hot weather, that also supports a large bust.

    My last trick this summer was to invest in heeled but comfortable sandals that adds height and lets me look a bit slimmer.

    As our summer is coming to an end I hope you get some nice summer weather down there – again Thank you for sharing all your knowledge!

  • I agree, viscose is great, as well as linnen and woven cotton. Personally I also avoid (especially fitted) sleeves directly on my skin, which means for example a sleeveless top + plus a cotton jacket with sleeves if I want to look more professional or cover my skin under the sweltering sun. Less sweating this way.

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