'I Hate Summer Clothes' Here's How To Get Dressed If You Hate Showing Skin
The Debrief: Everything is sleeveless, cropped, transparent or features cut out panels.
Summer is great. I like drinking in beer gardens, not shivering myself to sleep, and drinking in beer gardens, but there's one thing that pretty much ruins it for me every year, and has been ruining it for me since I became old enough to understand that I like sleeves. Actually, two things, because I also hate wasps but that feels a bit self explanatory (they're satan).
I learned from a very early age that: boobs in summer clothes come with constant pointed comments, I cannot be bothered to shave my legs every day, and I suffer from NSA. Otherwise known as Naked Summer Anxiety, otherwise known as something I've made up which perfectly sums up the panic I feel upon walking into Primark mid-April and finding that everything looks like something a twelve year old girl would wear. No sleeves. Transparent. Cut out. Short. Cropped. Just writing those words makes me feel sick.
Before we plough on with the ins and outs of how to solve this weird affliction, I'm not shaming anyone for wearing a transparent, sleeveless cropped top with cut-out panels. I just feel myself starting to panic at the thought of ever having to wear one, and having to prep myself in order to wear one. Fake tan, hair de-fuzzing, the gym, not eating six pieces of toast so I bloat, the list is so boring. Plus, it just makes me feel exposed and panicky; when my boyfriend chose my outfits for a recent feature, he picked a really short dress and the rate of my heart while getting photographed in it was pretty astounding. Nobody else I know seems to have this issue - sure, they say stuff like 'God yeah I hate getting my arms out' before promptly walking around all summer with their arms out. They probably don't panic most mornings and cover up in loads of weird prints and colours, resembling a mad (sweaty) woman's overflowing laundry basket.
If you're thinking I'm a bit affected, then you're probably right. I had anorexia for four years and went through a really cool period of time where I'd shower with my eyes closed so as not to catch a glimpse of the horrors below. You don't have to be a trained psychologist to forge some sort of link, but bollocks to the reasons why - I'm more interested in how to go about solving it. How can you walk around in summer fully clothed, without feeling nude and exposed?
You'd think I'd be the worst person to help out, considering I feel sad wearing vest tops in public, but this summer I might have nailed it. How do I know this? I'm not getting quite as panicked as I would normally, and this has nothing to do with getting older and more mature and everything to do with these cotton pencil skirts that are in Primark. And some other things that I will detail here, if you're interested (if you're not, congratulations on getting this far into the article).
Choose one thing you can bear to bare aka your ZONF
Let's take me as an example. I cannot have my arms out, my stomach out or my thighs out because everything has a tendency to look like bits of inflatable salmon, but I've figured out that I'm am okay with my calves. While this summer is to be the Summer of Calves '15 for me personally, what will your Zone Of Naked Focus (ZONF) be? You may love your arms, you might have a really excellent back... Either way, put some thought into it and start shopping with your ZONF in mind.
Shop at a discount store
The issue with summer clothes, apart from the fact that they're flimsy and shit, is that they're light coloured which means you'll spill shit on them in the car, get grass stains on them while you picnic, and turn them grey in the wash. They are the least hardy of all the seasonal clothes, and will probably be out of style come next season whereas black will never leave. Therefore, buy that flash-in-the-pan bright shit from really cheap shops like Primark and cheaper-end high street labels. By the time that patterned floaty poncho thing looks like crap, nobody will be wearing it and you can throw it away like it never happened.
Accessorise the shit out of everything
Buy an amazing (not necessarily expensive, but amazing) pair of sunglasses, a summery bag (maybe a white one to balance out and black that starts creeping into your outfit on less confident days) and a lot of really cool necklaces/earrings/bracelets. Maybe get your nose pierced or something. Then you can transofrm that boring plain top, plain cropped trousers combo into something completely different. Top tip: eBay. I search for 'unique necklaces' and you can get loads of really poorly made ones from China for a quid with no postage. Totally worth it, and while you're at it, get some good summery shoes - I like to buy the most ridiculously on trend pair I can for next to nothing, so they fall apart on September 1st, just when they're getting a bit naff. Like that time everyone wore creepers for a bit. And jellies with ankle socks. Remember that? That was fun. And shortlived.
Have a colour scheme
This will stop you panicking in the store and buying five black vest tops, three black skirts and a long sleeved shirt with mangoes on it. If you're thinking this sounds like an excellent summer outfit, then welcome to my land. Pull up a black chair in this room with no windows and let's chat about how great sitting in the shade is. On the other hand, you're going to need to think deeply about colour because you'll be so hot if you're all in black. So pick a scheme. I go for light grey, navy and white. The white is an issue, because I spill everything on it, but it only cost a fiver so who cares (see above point). Use patterns with caution, and revel in the fact that your new colour scheme allows you to figure out if said patterned thing will go with anything by simply looking to see if it contains any of aforementioned scheme. Yes, I'm a genius.
Ensure you have cover-ups
It's boiling, you're rocking your ZONF and suddenly you start to get NSA in the middle of the day with no warning. But it's OK! You did some research, wandered round a lot of stores, and found out that wearing a long shirt unbuttoned makes you feel great. Or one of those floaty overall things that I keep seeing everywhere. Or literally anything that isn't a chunky knit. Stick it in your bag and whip it out for those moments when you start staring at your own arms and feeling tearful.
Layer light material and no one will know
You can cover up till the cows come home provided it's light-coloured, and light-feeling material. I recently found a long sleeved white near-transparent polo neck that is basically made of air, and I can wear a vest underneath it without looking like I'm wearing two tops that completely cover my body. It's like an illusion. You're Derren Brown-ing everyone. Double check that you've got at least one light-coloured thing on, and that literally everything is light-feeling, and you'll be just as cool (in both senses of the word) as that girl in a cropped top and hotpants regardless of how many layers you're wearing. Alright, nearly as cool. Alright, you won't be really sweaty. Make sure you stick to the colour scheme to avoid looking like a swaddled child, unless that's the look you're going for.
Leave yourself an extra half hour to get ready
Or hour. Or two hours. Or three days. One thing's for sure, trying to find something to wear on the day, when you're stressed and late and hot will mean you'll end up stuck wearing pedal pushers and a novelty kaftan you bought at a fair for the rest of the day.
Stay strong, dudes. Only a couple of months and we'll be able to go all-in-black with chic scarves and long sleeved dressed. And, on the plus side, at least now you can wear sunglasses. Everyone looks good in sunglasses.
Like this? You might also be interested in...
Follow Stevie on Twitter: @5tevieM
Picture: Rory DCS
At work? With your gran?
You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating