Keep your cool in summer heat
Natural fibres and a loose fit will help to maintain your professional poise in the urban jungle, writes our fashion editor
Blimey, it's hot! Never thought we'd be complaining about the rising mercury in Ireland, but after a week of scorchio temperatures, I've developed a fashion game plan. In the office and at home, air conditioning and fans help a lot but if you are trying to go about your business on the move, looking half way presentable, then think NFL: natural fibres and loose fit.
We can sleep with frozen peas as pillows and even take the (surprised) dog for a walk in the middle of the night if the high temperatures rob us of good night's sleep.
However, it's in the daytime that I'm most discombobulated by the heat and it's hard staying cool while at the same time maintaining some semblance of professionalism.
We all have our favourite holiday pieces for the annual pilgrimage to sunnier climes but since these capsule items are usually geared towards beach or pool, chiffon beaded kaftans and low-cut, hi-lo hemmed maxis are not going to take us very far back in the urban jungle.
After two weeks coping with 25°+ temperatures in the south of France recently, I can thoroughly recommend the merits of Bardot tops and dresses in this hot weather that's taken us rather by surprise.
The Bardot's wide open neck exposes both shoulders so is ideal for providing extra ventilation. I'm wearing one as I write this and if you can find the Preen Edition striped blouses at half price in the sales at Debenhams, jump on them. The fabric is soothing and it holds its shape with remarkable ease, which is not to be sniffed at.
COOL CROPPED TROUSERS
Top and tail this look with a pair of cropped trousers, preferably in a natural fibre like cotton or linen, which are cooling for your ankles and legs. Dunnes Stores offers 98pc cotton ones with a lovely soothing, satin finish for €20 in a selection of useful block colours.
At H&M you'll find some lovely crinkle fabric pieces, including cropped trousers which look cool and very Issey Miyake worn with sliders, a cami and silky-feel kimono. The store has dresses in the same fabric in various colours and at €9.99, they are really well-priced and pack like a dream.
If you don't want to show your legs you can achieve a cooling, smart look with John Rocha's RJR khaki paperbag-tie trousers and his floral embroidered top with pretty fluted sleeves also comes from his designer collection at Debenhams.
Speaking of soothing, it's remarkable just how much the little things annoy us when the mercury rises. Underwire bras become exceedingly irritating. As for strapless bras, I've yet to find a style that behaves in cold weather, and in the heat, they are simply a nightmare, gravitating towards your waist like there's a magnet in Australia wooing them.
If your bust can handle it, I would suggest a longline lace bralet for sheer comfort. Also, remove with a scissors all those scratchy labels that irritate your skin.
The cold-shoulder look which Irish designer Zoe Jordan sold to us so well with her chic Lab knitwear had became a global trend.
Holly Willoughby (above), darling of morning television, wowed fans this week in a cold-shoulder dress. While some wondered where her famous curves had gone, others questioned where the dress was from: it's a floral flounce dress from Oasis, and costs €75.
In the midst of all the sale rails, M&S high-summer collection includes a lovely Limited Edition dress with Bardot neckline and double gathered sleeve (€59).
Speaking of strategic ventilation, the M&S Autograph dress (€82) is all about comfort - the loose striped shift at the front has two pockets and a low back with a decorative tie. Accessorise with a hat and some sliders for a smart, relaxed look for handling the heat.
For buys under €50, check out the new drop of linen pieces for Carolyn Donnelly's The Edit at Dunnes Stores - I recommend the stylish pleated blouses (€49).
Gingham and checks are back this season, and a printed dress, like that J by Jasper number (€97.50), is the epitome of chic, waspish dressing, styled with flat leather sandals. The dress is due to land into Debenhams in the next few days so keep an eye out in store or order online, from your perch on the beach.