Every year, around one month into the season, summer leaves me struggling with an exhausting case of sartorial confusion. While I begin the summer like any Canadian, exceptionally grateful for the warm sunshine, I soon find myself hot, sweaty and discouraged by the remarkable downsizing that appears to have occurred in my closet. While I may be the proud owner of oodles of tank tops and a growing collection of sundresses, after thirty days I find myself sincerely bored and deeply disappointed by my wardrobe. I subsequently go through the motions of trying to boost my selection with new purchases only to realize that, for once, shopping is not the solution.
This year, I have finally realized what the problem is: I have yet to find my summer style amongst my summer clothes. Tank top after tank top, sundress after miniskirt, the problem with my wardrobe is that it BORES me. When the humidity makes you feel like your body is begging for a starring role in Sweat Stains R Us, the idea of accessorizing with a belt, cute new blazer or, heaven forbid, closed toed shoes is totally unreasonable. Belts bring clothes closer to the body (oh god), blazers end up wrinkled beyond any acceptable degree because you pry it from your sticky shoulders about 20 times in one day (the horror!), and closed toed shoes? Sure, try it for a week and tell me how many friends still invite you into their homes, or if they do, insist you keep your shoes on. They are not doing this because your new flats are cute. They are doing this because you have no socks on your sweaty, dirty feet and a fresh pedicure cannot even fully cover up the smell.
This is why in winter we say we have ‘staples’ from which we can make any fantastic number of varied, gorgeous outfits through the long-practiced art of mixing and matching. I, for one, am partial to my JBRAND skinnies, Bloch ballerina flats, Vince cardigan and whatever happens to be my scarf of the moment. The recent return of wool tights has allowed the incorporation of (tasteful) shorts and skirts into cold-weather wardrobes. Fantastic boots immediately add class to any outfit. Dressing exclusively in grey, navy, black and the occasional jewel tone does not make you look depressing, it makes you look sophisticated! It’s wonderful. Plain and simple.
Yet summer is the season of the ‘uniform’. How often do you hear phrases similar to, ‘I honestly LIVE in my cut-off denim shorts, oversized tanks and havianas during July.’ Of course you do, because your body refuses to let any more clothing touch its sweltering surface. I don't mean to sound angry at the people who say this, if anything, I am simply jealous. Because there are plenty of people who look GREAT in their summer uniform. The simplicity works for them and they absolutely revel in it. Some way, some how, they turn tanks and shorts from basic to awesome and I am completely envious that this is their reality. Of course, just because you like summer dressing does not mean you succeed at it. For example, the ‘bikini as top’ look that far too frequently turns my expression into one of horror every time I encounter it on the street is NOT a reflection of someone fully in demand of their summer style. It is a reflection of someone who has been misled by Britney’s paparazzi pictures.
But back to those who achieve fashion wonders in the heat. How do you do it? Where do you get your flair? How do you make it interesting? How do you avoid looking like a hawt, frizzy, mess? Because as desperate as I may be for September, this desperation is fiercely matched by my plea for summer style help.