Now that it’s finally summer here in the South, we Southerners can all relax and breathe easier — as much as you can breathe, that is, with 90 percent humidity and air so thick you could cut a piece of it and invite it inside for some tea. (And that’s iced tea, of course — clear and strong and so sweet that your iced-tea spoons, which belonged to your great-great aunt who then gave them to your grandmother as a wedding gift, barely move in the glass.) “Hot,” you see, is our natural environment. Oh, we’ll complain and we’ll grouse and we’ll look forward to that far-away first Football Friday Night when we’ll need a jacket but the truth is we’re never really comfortable unless we’re hot. Hot is when we thrive. Hot is when we show what we’re made of. Hot is when we make the best drinks and the best food and we look our cutest. When temperatures are below, say, 85 degrees, we’re uneasy. It doesn’t seem natural. Sweat, after all, is the great equalizer. And while every Southern woman worth her prized chicken salad recipe (NO GRAPES!!!!) knows how to dig in and sweat with the best of them, she doesn’t necessarily want to look like it,. It is a well-documented fact that nobody knows how to sail through summer looking unsweated better than a Southern woman. We go from hose and heels and hats on Sunday to trim and tailored at work to soft and breezy on the weekend without batting a carefully mascaraed eyelash. And the best of us do it with style. Those women know instinctively how to look effortlessly cool. Others had to learn. And still others (raising hand as a member of this group) are still learning. Here are some things I’ve learned:
- The less clothes that actually touch you, the better. This means loose and flowy. Leave the belts and tight waistbands and elastic sleeves for later. And, coincidentally, loose and flowy also hides evidence of fresh-made peach preserves on Mama’s warm-from-the-oven buttermilk biscuits.
- Black is great for summer. A soft black sundress, like this one from Golden Tote, is the perfect go-to. Plus it hides the barbecue sauce and beer stains from lunch.
- Minimize use of lotions, perfumes, makeup and hair product. Keep it simple. It’s all going to melt and run off, anyway.
- Even if you never change bags, exchange your serious leather purse for something colorful and lightweight.
- Summer must-haves include a big floppy hat, your most outrageous sunglasses and an open floral short-sleeved kimono, like this one from Stitch Fix, to throw on over your tank top and cut-offs when company drops by. You DO always have a pitcher of iced tea in the fridge, don’t you?
Remember — “Southern” isn’t a place. It’s an adjective.”
South by South Style focuses on Southern style in fashion, food, entertaining and decor. All opinions expressed are my own because, sadly, nobody else will admit to them. I’m not paid or compensated or sponsored or affiliated by anyone for anything — although my husband wishes I were.