During the last week, I have, at different times, listened to friends, family and colleagues all bemoaning the fact that, on getting dressed in the morning, they underestimated the weather and put on jeans. Come 3pm, things were bad. They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Well, let me tell you – hell hath no fury like any person stuck in a pair of jeans when it’s 25 degrees outside. But if you’re not into midi dresses, or indeed anything other than something with legs, what do you wear? Well, I was wondering that same thing until I saw my friend Kat in a pair of breezy, printed trews complete with elasticated waist. She was wearing a sleeveless peplum top and a pair of flat sandals, she was going to work and she was the very embodiment of what magazines everywhere call “summer dressing”.
I have decided, therefore, that when it comes to trousers, I need to Be More Kat. As in, if you shop with comfort as your number-one criteria, you’ll never again experience the 3pm hysteria induced by the feeling of wet denim against your skin. As it happens, there are a number of comfy trousers that also look very chic, even when faced with humidity, direct sunlight and a commute. Here are a few suggestions…
Question: when is a chino not chronically boring? When it’s cropped, of course! Whatever the trouser type, they all look more stylish when they rest just above the ankle. For hot days, a pair of long culottes is always a good idea or a pair of the aforementioned chinos work very well with breezy blouses or simple tees. Or, cropped cigarette pants always invoke images of Audrey Hepburn on the Riviera.
The concept of waft is usually assigned to skirts and dresses, but just hold your horses – one of life’s real pleasures is to experience the sheer breeziness wide-leg trousers allow. They give you all the freedom of a skirt with all the practicality of a pair of trousers. They look great with T-shirts and trainers, or, if you need something smarter, look for a pair of more tailored wide-leg trews and pair them with your work shirts and pointed flats. They’re also great for a night out – wear them with a cami top and block heels for an easy alternative to dresses.
I know this sounds terrifying, but bear with me. Last summer, I decided that I simply couldn’t wear my favourite, dark blue jeans any more. In fact, I decided I just couldn’t face jeans – full stop. I then, on a whim, bought a pair of white, straight-leg jeans in the sale and never looked back. I still wear them in hot weather with everything, from printed blouses to coloured tees, knowing they look great with flat sandals, espadrilles and even heels. The trick is to avoid anything skinny and also look for cotton, rather than actual denim, which will be more comfortable in the heat. One of Whistles’ bestsellers are their white barrel-leg jeans, which are – despite what the name would suggest – very flattering indeed.
All the comfort of your cosiest joggers with all the smartness of a pair of tailored trousers. Quite frankly, what’s not to love? Whether you wear them to work or at the weekend, the styles with a bold side stripe feel more summery and help to break up dark colours. They also go with everything, from silky shirts to fine knits, if it gets a bit chilly in the evening. In terms of shoes, they look great with flats, so you can wear them with your sandals to make them feel even more appropriate for hot weather. I’ve been wearing a pair with just a plain white tee throughout the recent heatwave and, I have to say, not even the hottest Tube in London (ie the Central line) could bring me down.
They can sometimes seem a bit daunting but, in actual fact, any pair of trousers with a high waist is ideal for summer, as you can wear them with shorter tops or cropped tees without worrying that you have a huge chunk of torso on show. You can tuck lighter, breezier tops into them without having to compromise on how smart you are, but without having to think about it too much – good for days when all you can think about is where the nearest ice-cream van is. The high street has plenty in light, loose fabrics, like this lovely pair from Mango. Wear with tan sandals and a strappy top.