Summer got you feeling hot, but looking not so hot? In this episode, I share 5 tips for staying stylish as the temperature rises. From your beauty routines to choosing the right fabrics, these tips will help you look fab all summer long.

In Lessons from Linda, I share the story of a woman who put off working with me, until she just couldn’t anymore.

In Vocabulary, we’re doing another “what’s the difference between” vocabulary things, covering shirts, blouses, tops and tees.

And today, we’re starting a new segment. I hope you liked history class in school, because I’ll be rotating in fashion history with philosophy and current events. The goal is to share with you some contributions to fashion, or unsung heroes you may not be aware of, and I’m really excited for our first segment.

Your homework this week is to try a basic top with statement bottoms–and for extra credit, post a picture on our facebook page, or on your instagram and tag everydaystylewithjen–we want to see your looks!

Links & Resources from the show:

Read more about Ann Lowe:

A book for your kiddos

A book for you!

Come say hi on Facebook!

Join the All-Access Membership Now, and make all aspects of style a breeze.

Have a question you’d like answered in Office Hours? Email

**This post may contain affiliate links, which means, that I may receive, at no cost to you, a small commission from purchases made through links we provide. Thank you for your support.

Here are a few ideas for putting interest on the bottom, instead of on the top:

Swap your flip flops for shoes with more style, substance…and comfort!

Upgrade your summer handbag:

Some of my favorite summer beauty products:

Listen to the Episode Now:

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Read the full episode transcript below! – Ep 55 Looking Good When It’s Hot!

Hello Hello! Welcome back to the Everyday Style School podcast where we believe style can be easy, and getting dressed should be fun! I’m your host, Jennifer Mackey-Mary, and if you’re new to the Style School, I just want to say a big welcome! I’m so happy you’ve found us.

Today, as we are heading into the hot, humid, sticky season–I know some of you are already there–we’re going to talk about how to look good when it’s hot outside.

In Lessons from Linda, I’m sharing the story of a Linda who put off hiring me until she reached her goals. We’ll see how that worked out.

In Vocabulary, we’re doing another “what’s the difference between” vocabulary things, covering shirts, blouses, tops and tees.

And today, we’re starting a new segment. I hope you liked history class in school, because I’ll be rotating in fashion history with philosophy and current events. The goal is to share with you some contributions to fashion, or unsung heroes you may not be aware of, and I’m really excited for our first segment.

Before we get started though, your homework from the last full episode was to come up with your 3 style guideposts that describe the way you want to look, and guide your wardrobe.

I’d love to hear what they are–there’s a post on our Facebook page, so head over and chime in. You can find us on facebook and instagram at everyday style with Jen, or head to the show notes above for the link.

All right, let’s kick things off, with Lessons from Linda.

Today’s Linda was someone I knew professionally and socially for years. Every time we saw each other she said, I’m going to hire you when I lose 5 more pounds. Every time, I’d smile and say “looking forward to it!”.

Or she’d say, I really need your help, but I want to lose these last 5 pounds, and I’d say “You know where to find me when you’re ready!” And so it went, for years.

To be totally honest, I just thought Linda didn’t want to work with me, which is totally fine. You can be my acquaintance or friend forever and not hire me, that’s cool. But every time, she had to say she was going to hire me.

One day I got an email that said “Help! I just got a new job and I need clothes, can we go shopping?” Getting a new job is something that pushes women into upping their wardrobe, even if they’re not ready, they haven’t lost those 5 pounds, and for that, I am so grateful for those new jobs.

Anything that gives you the kick in the style pants you need is a good thing.

Anyway, Linda filled out the pre-service questionnaire, and on it, she said she wore a size 12-14, didn’t wear any special sizing, like tall or petites, you know nothing out of the ordinary.

We started shopping, and as always, I had the feeling Linda didn’t know what size she wore, so I started pulling 10’s and some 12 petites, which fit size wise like a regular 10.

Even though I had known Linda for years, I had no idea what her body looked like because she always wore shapeless, baggy clothes that hid any clues. I just took a guess.

When I shopped with clients, I send them off to focus on things they like, while I focus on pulling things they need. It’s a great way for me to get a sense of their style, and I can work quickly on my part.

So Linda grabbed a whole bunch of stuff, all size 12 & 14, and we hit the fitting rooms. She put the 14 pants on first, and they almost fell off of her. She said “I think these might need a belt”.

Uh, you think so Linda? She was swimming in them. I had actually grabbed the same pants in a 12 petite, which size wise is equivalent to a size 10. She put them on, and while she wasn’t drowning in them anymore, I could still pinch a big fold of fabric at the back.

I went back to grab a 10 petite (she was under 5’3”, so she should have exclusively been shopping petites), and on a whim, I grabbed the 8 petite as well.

I went back and gave her the 10 petite , and it was close, but still a little roomy. I handed her the 8 petite, and she said there’s no way those will fit, I haven’t been an 8 since before I had kids.

She put them on, buttoned and zipped them, and they fit like a dream. Her face was priceless. I took every single piece of clothing we’d brought into the fitting room and put it back on the rack, and we started over.

We shopped for 8 petities, she put back her large tops, I put back my mediums, and she ended up in smalls. I took a picture of her in one of the outfits she bought, and then again when she put her own clothes back on. The difference was shocking.

She looked smaller, obviously, but also more youthful and confident…and the smile on her face was unmistakable. This is one of my favorite Linda transformations, and there are two things I want you to take away from my time with her.

First, 5 pounds was never the problem. Now, Linda was a small person, so 5 pounds could make a difference in how her clothes fit, but there is never a situation where 5 pounds make the difference between you looking like Kate Moss from the 90’s and you looking like Ursula the sea witch.

At least, not in real life. However, in our mind mirrors, that’s exactly what happens. The mind mirror is what happens when you stop using objective data–like how your clothes actually fit, or what size you actually are, and instead go with what your mind thinks and sees.

Almost every woman I’ve worked with is using a broken mind mirror. The kind that reacts to a 5 pound weight gain by putting on clothes 3 sizes to big. Then what happens is you look in the real mirror and see a frumpy, shapeless mess, and then that image is imprinted in your brain and you accept that as reality.

It’s a terrible cycle. It would never occur to you that the problem is that your clothes are too big, your faulty mind mirror tells you your body is. Stop shopping with your mind mirror. Stop getting dressed using your mind mirror. Use your actual mirror. You just might be surprised at the results.

The second thing I want you to take away is that you don’t need to wait for a major life event to up your style game. There doesn’t have to be a reason. “I want to feel good” is reason enough.

Months later, Linda told me she wished she had reached out to me sooner. And while I love hearing that because it’s always nice to know I’ve helped make someone’s life better, it also makes me a little sad.

I’m sad for the years Linda spent not feeling fabulous, not loving family pictures, hell, not being in family pictures. Because you want to feel good about yourself is reason enough.

Wanting to feel confident is reason enough, Wanting to have fun with style is good enough. If you’re putting it off, don’t wait!

Let’s move on to the word of the week.

Today we’re doing another “what’s the difference between” episode, and this time we’re tackling Shirts, blouses, tops and tees.

Again, just like all of these that we do, it’s important to remember that even if there were technical differences, stores call things whatever they want to call them.

So, I’m going to give you my definitions, that hopefully will help you navigate websites a little easier, and know what you’re getting, or even what to look for.

When you’re searching by category on just about any women’s clothing website, you’re going to come across these 4 terms, sometimes in separate categories, sometimes grouped randomly.

For example, on loft “tops” is listed as a main category, and under that you can click on shirts and blouses, or tees, or tanks and camis, etc, etc…

On Jcrew, shirts and tops are listed as one category, and tees and tanks are another, and blouses can be accessed as a sub category of shirts and tops.

On Gap, shirts and tops are a category, tees are another, and blouses aren’t an option at all.

On Old Navy, tees are category, tops are a category, and then blouses and shirts together are a category

So, with those examples, I can’t imagine why people would be confused, right? Let’s clear it up a little.

Let’s take tees out of the running. Tees are t-shirts. In that category, on any website, you should find knit tops that have a basic t-shirt shape. Some put knit tops with details like a henley neckline in there, or a tie waist, or flutter sleeve.

What I would call a beyond basic. But if you buy something from a category labeled “tees” you will get a casual knit top. I’m fairly certain of that

We can also clear up blouses pretty quickly. These are tops that are woven, and on the dressier side. They can be any sleeve length, any style. While button up dress shirts are technically blouses, you’re probably more likely to find them under “shirts”

Shirts and blouses are often grouped together because they’re both wovens.

So the really tricky one is “tops”. What is a top? Well, a top is any garment that goes on the top half of your body, according to the examples I just gave. A top can literally be anything a retailer says it is.

Some retailers have them with the wovens, some put them in knits So here’s my definition. A top is something that is dressier than a tee, but doesn’t hit the formality of a blouse.

This season, in the capsule, we have 3 tops. They’re meant to be a level up from knit tees and tanks, but should be able to go with denim shorts and casual sandals

Just to recap, tees, theoretically should always be knits, shirts and blouses should always be wovens, again, in theory, and tops are the wild card. But tops are a good place to start for items that have more personality than a tee, but are less dressy than a blouse.

I hope that helps.

And now, let’s move on to our new segment, HIstory.

A couple of months ago, I ran across a little article, and I thought, “oh, that’s interesting, I should share that on the show”. But, it didn’t fit in philosophy, and it certainly wasn’t a current event, so I wasn’t sure where to put it.

Then, a few weeks ago, an click bait ad popped up on my Facebook feed for one of those “history of fashion” articles, and I thought, “its your podcast, why not just create a new segment” So that’s what we’re doing.

Welcome to Fashion History, where I’ll be sharing important, overlooked, or sometimes both, contributions to fashion as we know it.

I wanted to highlight a woman of color in our first history segment, and this woman was a trailblazer who was responsible for designing the wedding dress of one of fashion’s biggest icons.

Ann Lowe was born in 1898, in Alabama, and was the granddaughter of a plantation owner and a slave. She learned to sew from her grandmother and her mother, who were both seamstresses for Alabama society women.

When Ann was 16, her mother died, leaving 4 unfinished dresses for the first lady of Alabama, which Ann finished.

In 1917 she enrolled in design school in New York, and because the school was segregated she had to attend classes and work in a room alone. Incidentally, she left her husband who wanted her to quit sewing and stay at home. A pioneer in many ways!

She launched her first dress boutique in Florida, and returned to New York a decade later, designing on commission for stores like Neimens, Saks, and Henri Bendel. When Olivia De Havilland accepted her Oscar for Gone with the Wind, she was wearing a dress designed by Ann Lowe, for Chez Sonia, and the label inside said Sonia Rosenberg.

Tired of not seeing her name on the label, yes, Ann, yes, she opened Ann Lowe Gowns on Lexington Avenue in 1950.

One thing I really respect about Ann Lowe is that she knew who she wanted to design for, and wasn’t ashamed of it. She was choosy about who she designed for and who wore her clothes She said, and I quote “I am not interested in sewing for cafe society or social climbers.

I do not cater to Mary and Sue. I sew for the families of the Social Register.” She dressed Rockerfellers and du Ponts, and lots of other famous families.

Including Jacqueline Bouvier! Ann Lowe designed the wedding dress Jackie wore to marry John F Kennedy. While the New York times described the dress in great detail, sadly it didn’t mention the name of the designer at all, and when we think of Jackie Kennedy and designers, we often think of Oleg Cassini, Bill Blass, and Valentino.

But it was Ann Lowe who designed the most important dress of a lot of women’s lives.

She retired from fashion in 1972, and passed away in 1981. Her dresses are on display at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, and in Washington DC’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Also, if you want a fun book to add to your kiddo’s bookshelf, there’s a book called Fancy Party Gowns, The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe that shares her history.

I’ve linked to a bunch of articles on Ann Lowe, and the book, in the show notes above

I hope you enjoyed your history lesson for the day. When we come back, we’re going to talk about how to look good when you’re melting. Be right back!

You know that old saying, teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a day, teach him how to fish and he’ll eat forever? That’s what the All-Access membership is–teaching you how to fish.

Imagine walking into a store and knowing what colors are best for you. Imagine walking into a fitting room with out a giant pile of clothes, because you know the cuts and styles that will work for you. Imagine opening your closet and feeling excited, instead of overwhelmed by what’s in there.

The All-Access membership gives you the tools to make all of those things happen. Plus, you get access to our member community on Facebook, where you get to hang out with like-minded women…and I’m there to answer your questions each week!

It’s the best investment you’ll make in your style this year.

And now, back to the show.

You know, summer is a funny thing. We love summer–the lazy pace, vacations, ice cream, the beach…but we hate to dress for it. And it’s no wonder. Looking put together is difficult.

Cute outfits are too hot–you’re sweaty, you don’t want to pile on accessories–and you can forget about layering, am I right? But, that doesn’t mean you have to give up style and fabulousless until fall.

Today I’m going to share five ways to look stylish, even when you’re melting.

First- Focus on fit and condition. When everything is stripped away–all the layers, all the textures, all the accessories, what’s left is the fit and condition of your clothes.

And without those things to distract, fit and condition have to be on point. I understand that during these hot, humid months, you may not want fitted clothing next to your body. I hear ya.

But, don’t take it to the extreme and go in the opposite direction. Look for cuts that are flowy, not clothes that are too big. Clothes that fit you properly are the #1 to look more put together in an instant.

I know you hear me harp on that a lot, but there’s a reason for it. Do me a favor this week, and just look at people when you’re out and about–if you’re out and about.

Look for people who are wearing clothes that fit, and those whose clothes do not fit–notice what a big difference it makes.

The other part of this is condition. I’m going to be honest with you. I don’t invest in summer clothes, and a big reason for that is that summer clothes don’t hold up that well.

The fabrics are often lighter and thinner, and in summer, it seems like clothes get worn a little bit harder. Your white t-shirts are going to get stained no matter how much you spend on them, so rather than investing in a good one that will last you a long time, find a nice one that you won’t mind replacing.

When your cotton items have faded, replace them. When your knits get pilled beyond repair, replace them.

Second, beware of wilty fabrics. Often, summer fabrics look great when you put them on, but after a few minutes in the heat, or just moving around, they begin to stretch wrinkle and wilt.

The Slub knit fabric we talked about a couple of weeks ago is a good example, but lots of natural fibers, like cotton and linen will lose their shape as well. It’s important not to buy these items too big, because they’ll grow, and you should anticipate that, and another tip is not to wear a top that will lose structure with bottoms that lose structure.

Pair that slub tee with a pair of denim shorts, or a chambray tank with linen pants. Then at least one part of your outfit stays nice and the whole outfit doesn’t look worn out.

Speaking of linen, there is nothing you can do about the wrinkles. Embrace them, or don’t wear linen. It’s that simple. However, don’t pair an oversized linen top with wide leg linen pants…that’s a recipe for frump salad.

My third tip is to put interest on the bottom. Yes, you can wear a bright or patterned top and basic shorts but it’s much more interesting to wear a basic top and statement bottoms. This is one way to add style back into your wardrobe when you don’t want to accessorize, or layer, and you’ve only got a couple of pieces to work with.

Don’t be afraid to go for a bright skirt, or gingham shorts, or if you’re afraid of patterned shorts, look for lightweight fluid pants in a pattern. I think this works because it’s unexpected.

We see women with statement bottoms and think “Oh, I wish I had something like that in my wardrobe”. But since most women default to basic bottoms, it’s an easy way to look more interesting.

Every body shape can do this. So often women who don’t like their lower halves think they have to stick with basic, but it’s not true! Granted, maybe you’re not wearing neon yellow short shorts, but you could be wearing a pink maxi skirt, or a pair of vertical stripe wide leg linen pants.

There’s a way for every body to flip the script.

Tip Number 4 is to up-level the things you have to wear. You have to wear shoes, right? So instead of cheap flip flips, why not invest in a nice pair of comfortable, slip on sandals, like the Birkenstock Gizeh style, or the Lulu from Fitflop.

I’ve linked to both of those in the shownotes above, and you can find styles in all price points, but the point is, when you replace items that do nothing for your style, with items you have to wear that add to your style, you look more put together.

Be intentional about your summer handbag. Look for something with interesting color or texture, like a straw tote–also, beware of the oversized slouchy bag in the summer–it can contribute to the wilted outfit effect.

If you need to schlep a ton of stuff, grab a sleek backpack bag–I’ll link to my favorite in the comments, and then use a cute clutch when you just need the essentials.

Finally, tip #5 is to change up your beauty routine. While this one isn’t wardrobe related, a lot of women forget to do this, and it doesn’t help your look in summer.

Your hair may need different products in the summer than it does in the winter, and your makeup should be changed up. Put the matte lipsticks away and pull out glosses and semi-sheer formulas.

Look for waterproof mascaras and eyeliners that won’t run in the worst of the humidity,, and swap out your regular foundation for a tinted moisturizer.

Also, summer is great time to try brighter shades that may feel out of place in other seasons, and will help give your look a little polish and pop.

Again, I’ll throw a few of my favorites in the show notes on our website, but don’t forget to go lighter and brighter for your summer look.

While I can’t keep you from getting sweaty and shiny when it’s 100 degrees and humid, I hope these simple tips will help you feel polished and put together all summer long.

Your homework this week is to try a basic top with statement bottoms–and for extra credit, post a picture on our facebook page, or on your instagram and tag everydaystylewithjen–we want to see your looks!

That’s it everyone–I’ll see you Monday with office hours, and as we head out, I wanted to share what listener Lorna had to say about our Office Hours episode on saving style for special occasions. I love hearing from you, and you can find our voice message app on the podcast page of our website if you’d like to share your thoughts. Thanks for sharing, Lorna!

Class is dismissed for today, but the conversation doesn’t have to end.

And if the Everyday Style School podcast is helping you love getting dressed again, it would make my day if you would subscribe to the podcast, leave a review and share it with your friends, so women everywhere can have more fun with style. Thanks Style Sister.

I’ll see you next time, and until then, Stay Stylish!

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