Dealing with Summer Clothing When You Like to Remain Covered


how to look summery while remaining covered

I am from Berlin, Germany and have a style question that may be a bit surprising to most of your readers. Though I have already learnt many many things from reading your smart and very precise posts there are still some outfit issues that truly upset me, year after year.
Or maybe I just want to express my discomfort at the beginning of a very warm spring turning into summer all too soon hoping for some understanding. This post tells it all.

I have dark hair (medium brown) but very fair skin, almost white, freckles, plus some broken capillaries on my nose and cheeks (family heritage! I don’t drink alcohol, coffee, I avoid saunas, spicy dishes etc. the whole package, but genes clearly seem to outweigh healthy-living habits!). So for many reasons warm days or summer and all that goes with it (I am an introvert, too) to me really are a problem, not only in terms of discomfort or health (sun radiation!) but also “stylewise”. Never would I wear skirts (maxi skirts at the most), tops, shorts or light dresses during hot days regardless of how many times people would shake their heads and ask me why I don’t do these kinds of things because they say I am attractive and could wear them. I am an H shape, 5’8” tall, a true autumn and have found out that I have to wear rather dark muted colours near my face to appear not completely washed out. I just don’t know how to cleverly combine high-contrast colours for my really fair skin when the only thing my legs are protected in from the sun are long pants! Any suggestions?! Would be most appreciated!!

Best regards,

There are many women who find summer a difficult time to dress as they like to remain covered for many reasons – from religious to modesty to body to sun issues.  So how do you look and feel cooler but still look like summer not winter?


What to Wear in Summer while Remaining Covered


Here are six tips to look summery but remaining covered:

  1. Maxi skirts and dresses are a great way to cover up to the ankles, if you want to add a little more sleeve think about adding a lightweight shrug or cardigan.
  2. If you have deeper colouring, you can still wear some lighter coloured clothing – all colour groups have a range of lighter and darker colours.  Just make sure you use either a brighter colour or colour contrast to create contrast.
  3. Alternatively if you’re wearing lighter colours, which appear cooler to others, then wear a necklace in a darker colour to create the right contrast level near your face.
  4. Sheer fabrics also feel cooler, even if they are in darker colours.
  5. Make sure that your trousers are in medium to light colours rather than dark colours as this will make it less obvious that you are so covered and ‘hot looking’ to observers.
  6. Patterns can also make a garment look cooler if they are more floral, swirly or nature based.  You may also then use a pattern which has both lighter and deeper colours to create your required contrast level.


Further Reading on Summer Dressing

15 Summer outfit ideas to steal

Summer wardrobe capsule ideas and using a column of colour

Choosing colours in summer when you have deep or dark colouring

What to wear to a summer wedding

Summer city break capsule

Cool and modest in summer

Styling a white jacket in summer


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  • The thing I’d add, as a fair skinned redhead who has burnt all my life, is that arms need to be covered, at least to just below the elbow (my father, from whom my skin is inherited never wore short sleeves but always rolled up long sleeves [and our summers were v. hot]. The top side of the lower arm seems to be particularly vulnerable to sun.

    And sheer fabrics often allow the sun to fry your skin.

    On the other hand though, I’ve found the lower leg tends not to burn as much (unless you’re lying down in the sun, which we easy burners tend not to do) so capris with a light caftan type top also work very well.

    PS I love the colour scheme – it’s just my sort of thing. Beautiful. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Hi Imogen –

    I like your new website format but wish the meta data still contained the date of the article.



  • I absolutely love this article. As a second freckled redhead I am only at this late stage, working out what to wear in summer without looking frumpy – covering up is my top priority! This blog synthesises the results of years of experiment ( and failure!). It is now firmly on Pinterest!

  • Oh, so true!! Same problem here.
    I’m a Bright Spring, so I don’t get too many remarks about being covered b/c the colours are cooler and fairly light – and it’s also quite obvious to most, other than the worst sun worshipers, that my skin is f r a g i l e. Light-weight (and airy) shirt, capris, hat, sun glasses, sandals with a multitude of straps and – frankly – staying in the shade if not moving + avoiding going out during hours with high UV radiation. If I can’t wear a shirt (difficult garment for me to find b/c the fit is mostly poor and so I don’t have enough of them) I wear a scarf to protect my neck and chest from the idiocy of all these low, wide necklines in scorching sun. This year linen seems to be trendy (IMO a great material in the heat) so scarves, light sweaters and t-shirts (the slouchy, casual ones have slightly longer sleeves), shirts/blouses, wide(r) trousers.. I’m looking very hard right now. Cotton voile is nice and easy against the skin, but one layer isn’t for a whole day in scorching sun (works well enough for a couple of hours, though, and is c o m p l e t e l y preferable to sprays and lotions). That’s how I spend my days in the sun. But the best and most active of my summers are mostly overcast or a bit on the rainy side (if the air is warm, rain isn’t that much of a problem). Some biking and running garments are actually made with sun burns in mind so it’s possible to be active even with sensitive skin if the heat itself is durable.

  • I’ve found the best way to keep covered in the summer but still stay cool is to wear flowy lightweight medium- to light-colored cotton pants. I’ve made a couple pair for myself and ordered others from Etsy and they are a lifesaver when everyone else is in skirts and shorts. Generally, however, flowy on the bottom of my H shape body requires a little more streamlined garment on the top. Shirts with vertical darts, tanks with a lightweight third layer or a shaped tee all suit the bill. Thank you!

  • Dear Christina, here are my two cents of wisdom on the subject. In hot weather fabric material is of the essence. What you need is a capsule of linen and silk only garments. Cotton is too warm to wear when you want to keep covered. On the contrary, sleeved dresses and sweaters will still keep you cool if they are in linen or silk and linen blends. I’ve covered my legs for years and linen pants have saved my life. Jackets in a soft linen that doesn’t wrinkle too much are also a great find and can add a lot of style to your look. If you prefer to cover your toes, then do it: closed toe sandals are fashionable right now! 🙂

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