Friday, June 22, 2012

Hot Weather Survival Dressing

The Proper Bostonian officially decrees that, when the weather behaves improperly — say, shooting up into the 90s in June and dripping with humidity — we unhappy inhabitants may retaliate by being cranky, buying expensive "Venti"-sized iced drinks, and wearing shorts no matter what our age. That's what the PB is doing, and it feels like survival.

In Maine, everyone wears shorts. And, as everyone who has ever ridden on a Maine highway knows, Maine is The Way Life Should Be. So who are we to argue? If the shorts fit nicely and are a flattering length and your world has turned into an oven, I say go for it. In fact, I've decided that it's bad manners to wear wool suits, head-to-toe black, and similar garb in hot weather because it makes the rest of us feel sweatier just looking at you in all that unhealthy fabric.

This is not to suggest that I'm suddenly embracing rompers and string-bikini tops. I'm not going that far. (We don't need to see the whole back of a grungy, gray-white, industrial-strap bra under a completely backless blue knit sundress, either. Ahoy there, Berklee student.) As befits any PB, I'm advocating practicality and common sense, not outrageousness.

Actually, I've admired many pretty, airy, colorful summer dresses around town in the past few days. I've seen lots of cute sandals, summery handbags and straw hats, and casual, pinned-up hair. It's been a lot of fun to people-watch whenever I can bear to leave the house. (Guys have been less entertaining. So many are wearing long, baggy basketball and cargo shorts that make them look stumpy. And, on city streets, I'd rather see preppy, Nantucket-red or madras shorts over crazy-patterned board shorts any day.)

Since this is Boston, I've also seen a few women walking around in knee-high boots, including one pair of tight, black over-the-knee boots, worn with tights and shorts. This was yesterday morning, when it was already well above 90. Just looking at her made me feel feverish. I hope the soles of those boots have drainage holes.... 

When I need to look presentable in steamy weather, I'm relying on simple cotton dresses, too. I found these at Anthropologie; they are my summer uniform. But they are not as cool and comfortable as shorts. Nothing is.


This morning, I saw a young woman in a miniskirt entirely covered in silver spangles. She wore it with silvery flats and a thin navy cardigan printed with little anchors or something. This would have been a  spectacular ensemble in the evening. In fact, it could have single-handedly brought the collective Boston fashion IQ into the high-normal range, confounding the assessments of GQ and others. But in brilliant sunlight, the skirt was blinding; I had to look away. But who knows? Perhaps she was also being practical — planning to sit outside on her lunch break and grill a cheese sandwich on her thigh. That would be a survival skill, too.

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