Are you short on shorts? Lacking in linens? Generally unprepared to handle the summer heat? Check your local thrift store for lightly used garments that can help you keep your cool when the temperatures (and humidity) climb into uncomfortable territory. With a little browsing, you can stock your summer wardrobe at the fraction of the cost of retail, and since many thrifts are supplied by donations to ClothingDonations.org, shopping at them helps fund a wide range of veterans’ programs. And if you have summery items that you just don’t fit your current style, you can contact ClothingDonations.org for a pickup, too!
It’s tough to look professional in hot weather, but one’s appearance in the workplace, meetings and job interviews is as important “as a well-crafted resume or a polished LinkedIn profile,” Forbes contributor Nancy Collamer says. For women, style experts recommend lightweight neutrals such as white, tan and pale gray for sophistication and summer comfort, or a sleeveless blouse under a suit jacket. Men should try “tropical”-weight woolens and khaki cottons if a suit is required, or explore the limits of office casual. Linens are always a lightweight choice for both genders, but they do wrinkle.
Men who want to stay stylish in the summer heat should opt for fabrics that breathe such as cotton and linen, says Real Men Real Style, but equally important is the weave used. Jeans may be all-cotton, for example, but they’re usually too heavy to wear in comfort when the temperatures reach the 90s; instead, choose poplin, seersucker and madras. Silk and synthetic fabrics tend to trap moisture and heat, making them poor choices. Whatever the occasion, the story adds, a straw hat can protect your skin from sun damage and discomfort by making its own shade.
Labor Day is the last day of the summer season, and the last day traditional fashionistas say that it’s OK to wear white. While few people still observe the archaic fashion rule, the SheKnows blog says, what better time to throw a White Party? Wear your best monochromatics and serve only finger foods that have little potential to stain for an elegant end-of-summer occasion. After the party, you can pack your summer whites away for the next season, or donate them to ClothingDonations.org.
While the planets won’t align for the summer solstice for another three weeks, Memorial Day is traditionally the “official” start to summer. With schools letting out for the season, the first steady stretches of warm weather and a three-day weekend that celebrates those who gave their lives in service, the May holiday is a natural bookend to the season.
As such, Memorial Day is also the calendar marker that tells people when it’s okay to wear white. White clothing doesn’t absorb as much of the sun’s heat, making it a natural choice to wear in the summer sun. And while the rule dictating that one should only wear white through Labor Day — likely the creation of wealthy industrialists’ wives in the late 1800s — has relaxed, you’ll have more whites to keep clean in the summertime.
To keep your whites sparkling, the first rule is to separate them from all other colors in the wash. “Queen of Clean” Linda Cobb says that even light colors can transfer dyes and dirt to whites in the wash, so they should have their own dedicated cycle. Also, don’t use excess detergent or softener in any wash load; they can coat fibers and attract dirt in use. Then, dry white clothing on low heat, so it doesn’t yellow or scorch from heat.
There are any number of laundry additives that can keep whites bright. Chlorine bleach should only be used on cottons, though, while borax, hydrogen peroxide and even lemon juice can boost the cleaning power of regular detergents and remove stains on most fibers. There are also optical brighteners (or bluings) that will keep whites at near-fluorescent levels.
Vinegar proved to be the most effective treatment for dingy whites and summer stains like grass and mud, according to in-home tests performed by a columnist at Britain’s Daily Mail. “Vinegar is a fantastic cleaning agent, and has all manner of domestic uses,” laundry expert Stephen Anderton said. “It’s acidic, so it neutralizes alkaline food stains, and is antibacterial.” Dishwashing powder was also a good option.
Strictures against wearing white during other seasons are easing, but that makes it even more important to keep them their brightest. Try some of these laundry tricks, and you’ll be able to wear whites confidently for the summer months and — if you’re bold enough to buck tradition — throughout the year!