We all love summer; so many of the tasks we have to undertake are easier and more straightforward. Getting kids ready for school (fewer coats, gloves, scarves, etc), feeding your tribe (more salady and less casseroley), popping out in the car (no darned defrosting).
But, one thing that is notably trickier at this time of year is casual dressing.
Many of my clients are self-employed, running fabulous businesses where they need to represent their brand and look and feel the part. BUT they are not always in business mode. It’s my aim is to help them love the way they dress in every area of life.
I’d like to introduce Harriet Wayley-Cohen, she is an amazing, inspirational speaker and well-being coach, she is also one of my lovely clients.
Harriet recently posted this question in The Style Place, my clients’ Facebook group:
“With all this lovely sunshine I am realising that almost all of my more causal summer stuff is either too old, the wrong colour or the wrong shape. Apart from one pair of white shorts which totally rock.
Helen – any plans to put something out on how to wear shorts and which shorts go with which body types? Same with vest tops. Basically keeping cool and stylish at the same time…HELP!”
When I read this, and the reams of “Me too!”s in the comments, I realised that casual warm weather dressing is an almost universal problem.
Harriet and I worked together on her style a few months ago, and, as she is a highly-sought after speaker, appearing on stage several evenings a week, we focused mainly on her speaking wardrobe. Her vibe is a dramatic, statement one, and we decided her ‘look’ would be leather leggings worn with a variety of rocking tops.
You can probably recognise that if this is a look she totally rocks, every day shorts and t-shirts are about as far away as you can get from her glossy stage wardrobe. This is the root of her problem.
I’ve had my own struggles with the t-shirt and shorts thing, as they make me feel too mumsy. I realised recently that even if I’m wearing the right kind of shorts and a good coloured vest top with a v-neck (my best neckline), I still feel frumpy without a killer accessory. For me that could be a straw hat, oversized sunnies or a fabulous pair of sandals, but, without a key piece, I feel SO dull.
A totally casual and natural look just doesn’t ‘love me back’. It doesn’t make me feel good and is just one of the (many) reasons I don’t do camping.
This blog is a guide to how to wear a shorts and t-shirt combo well in terms of shape and colour, BUT if, like me, natural isn’t your best look, try adding in either some statement pieces or a pretty detail to make it your own.
Getting the length right is the most important thing. Weirdly, often the shorter the leg the more flattering they can be. Try some different lengths to see what works best for you, or fold up and down the legs of your shorts to see how the different lengths work. Try not to have the hemline of the shorts sitting on the widest part of your leg, unless you want your legs to look bigger – helpful if you are conscious of having skinny pins.
Choose a short that is cut in a similar shape as the shape of your body. So if you have a small waist and curvy hips and thighs, choose a cut like this with a t-shirt that clings in the right places to show off that waist.
And if you have a thicker waist and slim hips and thighs, choose a straighter cut like these and wear with a loose top.
Choose patterned or textured fabrics, or shorts in a fabulous colour, if your legs are your best feature. Pair them with a neutral coloured t-shirt or vest top.
And, opt for a slimming, darker shade if you’d rather not draw attention to your legs. Wear with a bright top or one with print or detail that keeps the attention up top.
If you find t-shirts terribly unflattering, you might find a silkier fabric works better – especially if you suit more classic or dramatic styles.
Personally, I’d like both!
If you’d rather not bare your arms, you have the option of cap, short, half or three-quarter sleeves to stay cool. Some work better than others depending on your body type. Here is my at-a-glance guide.
Cap – Good for pear shapes. Avoid if you have broad shoulders or chunky tops of arms.
Short – Good for small to medium busts. Avoid if you are busty and don’t want to broaden your chest.
Half – Fab for showing off a small waist.
Three quarter – Great for covering up in the sun and more demure when wearing shorts. May draw attention to your tummy area.
And finally, if you are happy going sleeveless, avoid shoe-string or delicate straps if you have broad shoulders, low or bigger boobs. A thicker strap will be more flattering.
I have no doubt that now I’ve put this guide together it will rain for the rest of the summer and for that I apologise. It’s probably raining right now as you read this. Keep this info close to hand to refer back to when our next mini-heatwave hits!
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Oh my gosh yes! This is so my problem – I’m much less inclined to get my legs out here at home but will try your tips so I can make the most of the summer in my new seaside home 🙂
Where are you living now Sara? Let us know how you get on using my tips! x
Thank you SO much Helen, I am going to be hitting French Connection this weekend to try those shorts. This really helps. Thanks for writing something for all of us that struggle with look gorgeous and causal at the same time – somehow I’d made the two mutually exclusive in my mind. I love what you’ve written too about the statement accessory. This might be a great way to add that dramatic touch that I love to a simple summer shorts and vest top combo.
Glad it was useful Harriet! Hope it makes the difference you need x
Definitely need help in this area too. Shoes can be a problem comfort and style as the warmer weather does encourage us to get out walking a bit more. Whilst flip flops are ok in the garden walking the streets can end up with lots of problems.
Thanks Helen for all your tips – I always learn something x
Thanks for commenting Joanne. Maybe summer footwear should be a soon to be blog post!