And like that, here we are, the dog days of summer – the time of year when it’s impossible to get from the front door to the car without breaking a sweat. When we should all just decamp to cooler climes and call it a day. When you defend our weather to those pesky relatives in milder places with: “Well, we don’t have 18 feet of snow here and February is lovely.”
While office dress codes and the general vibe is more relaxed during a Texas summer, we can’t all just throw up our hands and waltz around in the set of clothes mother nature gave us. Air conditioning, the state mascot of Texas, throws a wrench into getting dresses because you may, like me, step out of the oven and into the icebox. I swear the air vent is directly over my desk.
I look for inspiration in those rare places hotter than Texas – they exist – and take a page from their book. All while supporting some local Texas talent. Pretty cool, eh? (See what we did there?)
The sisters behind Mirth Caftans are based in Houston, but work with artisans in India to source beautiful, light weight linens and cottons rendered in breezy, loose silhouettes that are as flattering as they are current. While some of their styles are more pool-ready, others pair quite well with a blazer once you step into the perpetual indoor winter. India knows a thing or two about heat.
I’m also partial to the extraordinarily popular Mi Golondrina dresses and tops. The Dallas-based brand celebrates the founder’s Mexican heritage, working with artisans in Oaxaca to hand-embroider traditional Mexican dresses, tops and more. The result can be as bright and colorful or muted and delicate as you’d like. I like to wear their embroidered tops with a skirt for work and then jeans on the weekend.
Let’s not forget Africa! The Houston-based designer behind Onyii & Co celebrates her African heritage with bold prints and vibrant designs. I practically lived in one of her dresses last summer at four million weeks pregnant. I swear there’s a Girl Scout badge for dressing a pregnant body in the Texas heat. I have achieved level 12.
Speaking of prints, I sat next to Austin’s Katie Kime on a flight once and have fan-girled her ever since. I love her boldly patterned shift dresses. Easy to pair with a cardigan or blazer, and just as fun to wear with sandals. A print designer, she’s inspired by her world travels to create over-sized prints like enormous banana leaves or giant blue ginger jars.
I designed Kit’s sun shift during my third Houston summer, and I can now say that I wear them several days a week. Good thing we make it in five fabrics! My favorite is still the original blue and white stripe Belgian linen.
In summary (yeah, pun intended!):
To be sure, giving yourself some ventilation always helps. I know they’re not for everyone, but when it comes to dressing for heat, they can’t be beat.
Less is not more when it comes to fabric. Those skimpy bodycon dresses may feel breezier, but feeling like a sausage isn’t going to help those sweat stains. Fabrics that give you some breathing room, literally, are also going to help your skin breath. You’ll sweat just a wee bit less, which is a win, right?
Work with what Mother Nature gave us and stick with lightweight, natural fibers like cotton and linen. They’re crisp, breathable, and comfortable. Texas may love oil, but polyester, fashion’s favorite refined petro product, is recipe for disaster in the heat.
Okay, I know this doesn’t seem to have anything to do with heat, but bear with me. That glaring sunshine has to go somewhere, and the darker the color, the more it absorbs the suns rays. Basic black may as well be a basic black kiln in this heat. White textiles actually reflect heat, and light or bright colors don’t absorb it like darker tones do.
And, just remember, we’re all just a walking hot mess out here. If strength in numbers counted for something, Texas would be the style capital of summer.
Merin Guthrie is the founder and CEO of Houston-based Kit, an innovative Made in America clothing start-up changing the way clothes are made.
Cover photo courtesy Mi Golondrina