Summer dressing: Cool and fun

Simply dress up right and beat the heat this summer

“Sun is shining.
The weather is sweet yeah.
Makes you wanna move, your dancing feet.”

Finley Quaye

Summer dressingThat Finley Quaye sure got the summer vibe with his lyrics to “Sunday Shining”.

I don’t know about you, but it brings to mind an impossibly azure blue sky, puffy white peaks of cotton candy clouds and a leafy canopy of the most virulent chlorophyll you’ve ever seen this side of the ozone. A beach chair, a cool breeze and a refreshing drink on hand to take away all those summer time blues and we’re cruising!

It’s summer time and the livin’ is easy…

Well I admit, I’m picturing more “summer holiday” and less “summertime-in-the-city”, but if images of the sun blazing a few degrees higher and apparitions of mopping the sweat off your brow obscure your mind, let me lend you a few visions of my own.

I’m a summer gal. When the heat is on, I escape into my own cloud of cotton, and I’m not talking about day dreams here. From soft wispy cotton voiles, cambrics and muls, to crisp linens, light-weight jerseys and airy cotton twills I know where I must go to keep the cool while looking my chic summery best.

The truth of the matter is that summer is a time when your skin needs to be hydrated, release toxins, breathe freely and be re-hydrated at a fast pace. Natural fabrics like cotton, linen, hemp, soy etc, aid the skin in the process of toxin release. As they are of an absorbent nature as well, these fabrics soak up those little beads of perspiration and help keep the skin cool as well. The hydration and re-hydration bit is of course accomplished by your downing enough fluids. So it really isn’t as much about fashion as it is about making yourself more comfortable in your own skin [pun unintended] for the season.

Airy tunics and breezy blouses, billowing linen shirts and soft drawstring pants then are where it’s at.


While white certainly is your best bet in beating the heat what with its heat reflecting properties, other shades closer to white are also pleasant summer alternatives. Egg shell, ivory, light turquoise, beige, icy blue, coral and mauve, and in fact all manner of pastels compliment, sooth and smooth out the often harsh quality of the season. Wear these in the form of kurtas, shirts, tunics, dresses or t-shirts and forget about the rising mercury.

In fact the new summer staple is now the little white dress [LWD]. As the name suggests it is the summery daywear cousin of the already famous “little black dress”. I opine everyone should own one in a dress, tunic or kurti avatar as it appeals and suits your lifestyle best.

I know for one, love the simplicity of throwing on a pure white shirt dress over a pair of deep blue jeans, allowing the focus to rest firmly on the intricate thread work that runs all over the fabric, while a few key accessories play the supporting roles.

Prints and embellishment

Whites and printsWhites look perfect with a touch of cutwork or tone-on-tone beadwork or a sprinkling of sequins and crystal, though if whites and pastels sound bland to you, surface prints and colourful embroideries can really add flavour, spice and punch up your summer wardrobe. Whether the prints take form and colour from the natural tropical scenery, mixing bright leafy greens with citrus yellows and sunset colours or embroideries in colours like teal, cerulean blue, fuchsia and red that take from the feathers of equatorial birds and fruit. The options are endless.

All you need is to keep an eye for striking surfaces on tops, tunics, dresses and shirts that whisk you away to a far off summery destination. Just keep in mind that while the prints and embroideries should look fresh and vibrant as though they’re inspired by the forests or the beach or somewhere exotic, they ought not to make you look like you belong there! So keep it tasteful. Less is always more.

Silhouette details

As fashion would have it, pleats, tucks, gathers, folds and volume are the details of the moment. Couple these with the tent or trapeze silhouette and you could say the demanding fashion beast has turned forgiving for now.

So fashion followers can blissfully go ahead and indulge in the loose and easy tunics, tops and dresses the stores should be carrying now. Think boat, square and round necks, blouson, cap and puff sleeves, peasant-like blouses and A-line skirts and dresses.

Cropped pants that end at the ankle and cropped shorts that fit close like cigarette pants but end above the knee are the key updates to pants this season. Waists are high, as in up there at the natural waist. Considering the new waist then, it might be time to clear out your closet of all those low-waist jeans and pants that don’t quite fit, but we hope to wear again someday. For the guys nothing beats the cool crisp look and feel of well fashioned cargo shorts and capris. Look for ones with an interesting combination of pockets, zippers and stitch detailing, pair with a jersey tank and an over shirt and you’re good to go.

Harem pants and variations there of are a cool Bohemian/ Rastafarian silhouette as well. Wear them with tank tops or short kurtis for a unique style statement.


During summertime when the river is high, wooden bangles, beaded bracelets, necklaces and rings, really add the finishing touches to a breezy summery ensemble. Add on a pair of slippers, crochet ballet flats or latticed open-toe pumps and enjoy the season in comfort and style.

Now I hope that puts you in a more “sunny” mind-frame to celebrate the sun!

Meera Mittal is a Mumbai-based fashion designer and consultant.


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