Fashion Practices

Style Reflections: Facing Unbearable Heat

In terms of my personal style, one of the most difficult things about moving to New York has been the summer. Some of you might not be aware of this, but living in Colombia doesn’t mean being in over 100ºF temperatures year round and wearing shorts and bikinis all day. If you live in Bogota, the capital city, as I did for over 20 years of my life, you’ll probably be cold most of the time, and you’ll have to bear with a lot of rainy days. This, as you might already imagine, is close to being the exact opposite of summer weather in New York City, where temperatures rise above 86ºF almost everyday, the sun shines stronger than ever, and the humidity is so intense that you even have trouble breathing.

This sort of “summer weather,” although I definitely had experienced it before, is something I wasn’t familiar with. Before moving to New York, the only times I had lived under these weather conditions was either when I visited my grandparents—who live in a small town a few hours away from the city—or when I went on vacation to Cartagena. And in both cases I would either wear breezy summer dresses to lounge all day or get rid of most of my clothes and wear a bikini while sipping lemonade—or Margaritas, when I was old enough—all day by the pool/beach. However, when trying to be a normal person in the summer weather of New York, both my summer dresses and my bikinis ended up not being the best option. And what was even worse was that I barely even knew what a better option would be.

So I had to embark on a brand new adventure of exploring my style.

This turned out to be a lot harder than I initially thought it would be, especially because I think I found out long ago what suits my lifestyle and my personality and what I feel comfortable wearing. And although this “being comfortable” has been challenged several times—but that is a completely different topic I’m not going to explore in depth right now—I really consider my style relatively stable over time, which made me struggle a lot trying to understand what the translation of that fall/winter style I developed over the years would look like in the summer.

And the worst part of it all was that, in order to understand how I feel comfortable in the summer, I had to try different options and styles. It was a true “trial-and-error” process, which turned out to have much more errors than I would have liked. This, as you might imagine, meant walking out of home some days—after spending hours trying to decide what to wear, since I still didn’t have a “go-to” type of summer outfit—and realising I felt awful. I still remember the stomachace I felt more than once after realising I was wearing colours that felt too bright, or shorts that felt too short, or outfits that just felt completely mismatched. And because, in many cases, I couldn’t just go back home and change, this feeling of discomfort would stay around with me for the day—sometimes for a few days in a row—and it couldn’t  make me feel worse!

 

But after struggling for a couple of months, I think I’ve finally come up to terms with my summer style. Yes, I might still make mistakes every once in a while—and everyone does, that’s the beauty of personal style—but at least now I have established some norms of what I like to wear and what I definitely try to avoid wearing as much as I can. I’ve also found a sort of “uniform” to wear on those days when I don’t want to think about it in the morning—usually shorts and a shirt or a skirt and t-shirt. And I’ve—finally, after almost giving up feeling I would never get to this point—found myself feeling like I own the streets when wearing something I feel truly comfortable with. Which is a lot to say, considering the minute you walk out of home into the streets you’re immediately tackled by a wave of heat and humidity that make you instantly feel disgusting!

Although I’ve come to a point where I feel excited about wearing summer clothes, I think the weather of fall/early spring is still my favourite. In the end, it’s the type of weather I grew up in and where I feel most comfortable dressing. And although I’m dying to wear those beautiful linen shorts I bought last week—oops!—I think I can’t wait for the fall to begin.

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