It drives me bonkers when dresses made from heavy fabric or layers of polyester are recommended as great summer dresses. Where do these people live, the Arctic Circle? Here in the Washington DC area, summer is hot, and it is humid. We call most days of July, August, and even much of September and August as “soupy” or “swampy” or “thick” because it's more like swimming through humid air than roasting in an oven. And the idea of a polyester dress, ponte knit, or even a stretchy jersey dress for more than a few minutes outside sounds like utter torture. So below I share dresses for a truly hot summer. The kind that won't have linings that get all stuck to your legs, the kind that won't feel as though they're melting and fusing onto your back. The kind of dress I live in all summer long, usually with a pair of slip shorts like I shared in Wednesday's post on how to prevent chub rub.
My favorite kind of sundress makes it possible for me to wear a standard bra without it being on full display, is below the knee so I can wear slip shorts or some other item for modesty and to prevent chafing, has a full enough skirt that it doesn't cling to my rear or legs or show sweat stains below the waistband, is either made with a synthetic that works to cool or wick moisture or dry quickly, or is of a natural fiber that breathes. I want a dress that looks cute with flat sandals, and one that is breezy without looking like a crumpled paper bag. Oh, and if it could also be opaque and not only available black and look a bit polished and stylish, that would be fantastic! Below are some possibilities:
First row: JIBARI | Garnet Hill | Grass-Fields | Hackwith Design House | lemlem
Second row: Princess Highway | Banjanan | Kaela Kay | NIC+ZOE | Marela
Third row: Cece | Tory Burch | NIC+ZOE | lemlem | Talbots
First row: FARM Rio | Thought| Tanya Taylor | Talbots | FARM Rio
Second row: NIC+ZOE | Tanya Taylor | Banjanan | Tanya Taylor | Vince Camuto
Third row: Dolan | Equipment | Garnet Hill | eShakti | Lauren Ralph Lauren
First row: J. Crew | Universal Thread | Eileen Fisher | Talbots | Kaela Kay
Second row: Tanya Taylor | Thought | eShakti | Boden | Rebecca Taylor
Third row: Garnet Hill | J. Crew | Whistles | eShakti | eShakti
When creating this post, I went beyond my tried and true retailers to find brands that were sustainable, ethical, owned or designed by Black women and other people of color. I will continue to research and feature new designers and brands and while sticking to the style of Wardrobe Oxygen. Some of the new to Wardrobe Oxygen retailers:
- Banjanan: Caroline Weller is the woman behind Banjanan, a sustainable clothing company designed and created in Jaipur, India. It is a zero-waste company that is made with organic voile, shipped in compostable bags, carbon-offsets any shipping or business travel, and by this fall will have phased out viscose and rayon for a polyester made from 100% recycled water bottles. Unfortunately, Banjanan only goes up to a Large, which on their size chart is an 8/10. What a missed opportunity, I know I am not the only one who would rock the heck out of some of Banjanan's pieces. Banjanan is associated with HATCh Showroom.
- Grass-Fields: Founded by Christelle and Michelle Nganhou, twin sisters from Cameroon, Grass-Fields was created to put the love back into African print clothing. The clothes are made in Cameroon by a team that gets three times the average salary and the clothes are available up to a US size 20.
- Hackwith Design House: Launched in September 2013 by designer and founder Lisa Hackwith with just one limited-edition design, now Hackwith Design House offers a limited edition design every week with only 25 of each made but also have a Core Collection, Swim, Basics, Plus, and Intimates. Both their Plus and Swim collections are available up to the equivalent of a US size 28. Everything is made in-house in Minnesota with a goal for longevity and low waste.
- Kaela Kay: Catherine Addai left her corporate job at the end of 2017 to focus on Kaela Kay full-time. With a focus on Addai's Ghanaian roots, the line emphasizes the beauty in the prints and colors that come from and represent Africa through the Ankara textiles. The collection is available up to US size 22 and custom orders are also possible. Kaela Kay clothing is produced in Toronto, Canada by local seamstresses.
- lemlem: Supermodel Liya Kebede was inspired to launch the brand following a trip to her native Ethiopia where she met a group of traditional weavers who no longer had a market for their craft. lemlem Foundation, lemlem’s philanthropic arm, is a non-profit that helps women artisans in Africa by connecting them to healthcare, education and pathways to jobs. Five percent of lemlem’s direct sales, proceeds from special collaborations, and donations advance this mission. Again, it is unfortunate that this line only goes up to a size L which is the equivalent of US 10/12.