Burda and Planning Next Summer

As I shiver and work on coats, I plan for summer.  Despite my current geographic location, I find my mind hard-wired to Northern Hemisphere seasons.  The only way for me to organize my mind involves thinking of seasons here as “cold summer” and “hot winter.”  In the middle of cold summer, I must think of summer clothing.  Last hot winter I kept trying to plan coats and sweaters.  I’m working through all that planning now.

Hot winter really gets me down, I want to hide in my house.  Hot winter lasts for 7 or 8 months.  I can stand the heat, I can stand the sticky humidity, I can get used to central A/C being viewed as a luxury rather than a necessity.  I can not abide the sun.

It hurts my skin.  It hurts my eyes.  The sun is stronger and harsher here.  Some people like it.  I do not.  I have a constant headache in hot winter from squinting or wearing sunglasses without my glasses.  Signs bidding you to put on sunscreen, clothes, and hats proliferate in parks and on the beaches, basically any public space.  Every new freckle sends me scurrying to the doctor because commercials like this play during prime time TV.

What’s a fair-skinned lady to do?  I pondered this one for a while, then it occurred to me:  dress like a fair-skinned lady, of course!

(From a very interesting description of Victorian dress etiquette)
Summer Strategies for Maintaining Skin and Mental Health:
  • Big Hats, big beautiful hats
  • Breezy coverage.  Flowing sleeves, wide leg pants, swirly skirts
  • More and more sunscreen
  • Use of fibres that won’t stink when I glisten.  I find cotton (not to speak of synthetics) smells horrible after I sweat in it, even when I soak the garment and hang it in the sun.  I want to experiment more with wearing bamboo, lightweight merino jersey, hemp and linen for summer wear.
  • Light colors / very bright colors that won’t appear washed out in the sunlight.
  • Parasol, possibly.  Some Asian ladies here carry around umbrellas, but I would want an actual parasol.  
  • Perscription sunglasses.  Or perhaps I should start wearing contact lenses more.    

It should be noted that I dress my daughter like this in the summer, and learned to dress this way in a North African summer as a student.  I was so cool and comfortable that summer.  

It is hard to remind myself to dress this way, because the people around me don’t.  Standard summer wear includes shorts, shirt and shoes optional for men (even in public), some sort of tank top for the women (don’t forget to show your bra-straps!), and flip-flops (called thongs).  Some people might wear hats, usually mommies and their kids.  That’s also pretty standard summer wear back home in Texas and indeed most of the world. 

    And so the other day I discovered April Burda magazine, the very same I’d seen reviewed by Selfish Seamstress as “innocuous.”  I like S.S., and she’s probably right.  I’m a very recent convert to Burda, willing to try the patterns but still wary.  Check these pieces out:

    A thin, flowy pintucked shirt.  Sleeveless with ruffles down the front?  Why not?  I like the tulip skirt with the sash to be a bow, but I’m not so sure Sarah would approve.  The other skirt looks non-descript, but the back has a pleated bias ruffle and another *ahem* bow.  I would do away with that bow.  The funny double-breasted shirts are not without their charms.  

    I like the cocktail dress, but I don’t have a yearning for another one right now.  This is filed away under “splendid.”  The other dress is made of a double layer of lightweight knit, I think it could be very pretty and comfortable and casual for summer.  Sorry, S.S.,  I kind of like the weird pleated bib front pants.  I’ll try it out with a pair of shorts.  I don’t actually own any and haven’t for years.  I hate showing my legs.  Weird shorts could kill any sexiness factor, and I like that.  Check out the last pair of pants.  Wide legged, cuffed, contour waistband, sleek side pockets.  I suppose S.S. is right, you could get these patterns more or less anywhere, but they are just what I’ve been wanting all tied up neatly in a little magazine.

     I also have a few knit tops drafted with flowing sleeves for summer, to be made up in a stink-resistant bamboo jersey. I’m pleased I didn’t cut into my wardrobe fabrics in any meaningful way before I found this magazine.

    I have a linen waistcoat planned, too.  For a little summer smartness.   I’m toying with the idea of engineering a lightweight hemp unlined jacket to wear over sleeveless shirts when I sally forth.  I found a jacket I like in a book and sketched my own version.  Kind of a 1930’s German Imperialist Safari Jacket.

     So while I work with wool which won’t form a meaningful part of my wardrobe while I live in Queensland, most of my thought work goes to Hot Winter.  Already.


    1. It has to be love to be willing to live in 8 months of hot summer. You'll love it when you're my age and your skin is smoother than your sun loving fellow Aussies. I've always avoided the sun and people always think that I'm younger than I am.

    2. My skin is already smoother and clearer than other girls my age here… People usually think I'm in highschool! I'm finally old enough to appreciate being taken for a younger girl.

    3. You are amazing! I would not make it in that miserably hot weather. I live in Michigan, and even here, the summer heat makes me unfit to live with! I am not a hot-house flower!

    4. Ugh, just the phrase "hot winter" makes me ill. And having grown up in the officially semi-tropics, I do know what you mean about the sun (although I think it is worse where you are). Now that I live in the Northeast, I feel no presence from the sun whatsoever. People cannot understand what I'm talking about when I say I can't even feel it. A hard sun is so….ugh. I think I will spend the rest of my life migrating further and further into cool zones. (And even though the sun is, to my thinking, weak here — I am vigilant with the little's ones skin, she is the palest thing on the playground. But she will thank me someday!)I urge you to get the prescription glasses! are they very dear there? My prescription is mild (I'm slightly nearsighted and need glasses to drive) so it may make a difference but I don't pay more than $15 or so for prescription sunglasses every year. You could always have your mother get them and send them on?Now….the bow. I've been thinking about this and trying to decide what I think about a functional bow. I think it is different, but — that one looks huge!! Does it go in the back or front? If it were me…I think I'd angle the sash and tie it with a sarong knot. Ugh, hot winter. Two of my least favorite things. Cool summer sounds lovely though.

    5. I grew up in Nova Scotia, and endured enough cold, grey weather to last a lifetime. I think I'm solar powered, and my batteries got pretty flat during the long long winter. I gave up trying to 'make it work' and moved to Cairns (Queensland, Australia) 17 years ago Hurrah! The best idea I ever had! I love the soft and fragrant tropical air (which some people call humid). During the very tropical summer, whenever someone starts complaining about the weather I think about what it is like in Canada and say "It could be a whole lot worse, honey!"

    6. We were up Cairns way (en route to Cape Trib) last "cold summer" and loved it. We even toy with the idea of moving up North after Husband finishes his studies, though I know the actual summer weather is considerably hotter. I suspect tropical summer spent under rainforest canopy would be much the same as my swampy Floridian childhood, and that's ok. I'm not so fussed about the heat or humidity, it is trying to live a "city" life between a harsh sun and the baking asphalt that kills me. The lifestyle up there is rather more laid back (i.e. suited for the climate/sane) I think, and that would make all the difference. :)

    7. Actually. Cairns summers are nice (if you are tropically inclined). We have a monsoon climate, so while the rest of the country is blisteringly hot, we are sheltered from the sun by thick rain clouds and cooled by fabulous and spectacular rainstorms. Then the sun comes out, clouds of steam rise from the ground, and you decide to take it easy that day LOL! Gin and tonic season!

    8. Cairns sounds very Floridian/tropical, which is totally tolerable to me. I love the summer rains! (Floridian childhood here too!) My husband cannot hack it though, unfortunately. Although, now that we don't really have Spring anymore (here in the NYC area) and barely have Fall…I don't see that's it's any better here. All we have is scorching heat and freezing cold. Just a few days in between. Sigh….

    9. Wow – triple wow. Can I be you in my next life, please? I still prefer to be American, and having lived in England I don't need to do that again. I've visited Australia several times and would happily live in Sydney or Perth. I already love vintage clothes (totally inappropriate for my lifestyle). What I really want in my next life is to know how to sew even half as well as you. So glad to have visited – I'll be back!

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