Beat the Heat

How to survive a Minnesota summer—in style

jahna peloquinFor the serious fashion lover, spring and fall are the best seasons for getting dressed. I pull out my favorite staples—namely, a great-fitting jacket and a kickass pair of boots—and layer my look to create depth and texture. But when it comes to summer wear, my go-to pieces are no longer an option. A leather moto jacket in 90-degree heat simply will not do. 

In warm weather, the primary goal is comfort—and for many, that means wearing as little clothing as possible. But as I get older, short shorts and tank tops are at odds with looking professional and put-together. So over the years, I’ve found stylish solutions to summer overheating:  

Shield your skin. In addition to sunscreen, lightweight clothing is the simplest way to protect skin. Take a cue from the traditional fashions of hot-weather countries such as India and Thailand and stick to breathable fabrics made from natural fibers, such as linen and cotton, which do not cling or stick to the body in heat. My favorite find from a recent beach trip was a pair of Thai harem pants, which I plan to chic-up with a lightweight tailored blazer. 

Lighten up. For days spent in direct sunlight, such as outdoor festivals and block parties, ditch the all-black wardrobe for light-colored fabrics. 

Pair a wide-brimmed hat or headscarf with oversized sunglasses. Old-Hollywood starlets had the right idea—this look is a great way to cover up, look chic, and stay cool at the same time, plus hats and sunglasses shield your head and eyes from UV rays. 

Find a great summer hat. Avoid heavy fabrics such as wool in favor of wide-brimmed straw hats—they’re lightweight and constructed to
allow air circulation through venting holes on the sides of the hat (body heat escapes most easily from the head). 

Skip jeans—they’re heavy and don’t breathe. Opt instead for cotton chinos (with the cuffs rolled, natch), tropical-weight wool, or linen trousers.

Build a wardrobe of workplace-appropriate summer dresses. They should be tailored, have a somewhat loose fit, and show some skin while hitting slightly above the knee. 

Skip the flip-flops. While sandals are acceptable for social events, flip-flops are strictly for the beach. For the workplace, try an espadrille wedge, t-strap sandal, a heeled mule, or a leather open-toe sandal. (But if you’re baring your toes, make sure to get a pedicure first.) 

Buy a summer-weight blazer. Just because it’s summer, it doesn’t mean you can’t look sharp in a blazer. An unlined or half-lined jacket in cotton, linen, or tropical wool is lightweight, breathable, and summertime-appropriate. One of my favorite pieces from last summer was a white silk duster—a ’90s-era thrifted find from Arc’s Value Village—that lends outfits an easy, breezy polish. 

Follow these tips and you won’t think twice about your boots and jackets until it’s time for their fall return.

Photo by 2nd Truth Photography

Jahna’s June Style Picks

scarf, mille
Scarf from Mille. Photo courtesy of Mille.

It’s a Wrap
The scarf is the must-have accessory of the season, such as this cotton-silk design by Block Shop Textiles featuring a hand-blocked print by fifth-generation master printers in Bagru, India. $120 @

clutch, solid manufacturing co., cait courneya, leather goods
Clutch from Solid Manufacturing Co. Photo by James Cordell.

Palm Print
Local illustrator Cait Courneya lends her whimsical touch to a new limited-edition line with Minneapolis-based leather maker Solid Manufacturing Co., including this palm-print clutch. $98 @

kate worum, prints, local art
Print by kate Worum. Photo courtesy of Kate Worum.

Advanced Style
Swap out that Ikea artwork in favor of a colorful print by Minneapolis painter Kate Worum, who recently launched an online print shop of her original, mixed-media artwork. $35 @