When Only a Sundress Will Do

When the temperature surpasses 90°F, a sundress is the only option. In case there is any discrepancy regarding the definition of a sundress, I will define it now. I consider this type of dress to be made of a lightweight natural fiber such as cotton or linen. It has skinny straps and a length that hits somewhere around the knee or mid-calf. A maxi dress does not fit this definition. The purpose of a sundress is to keep the wearer cool in the ridiculous summer heat. How can you stay cool in a maxi?

I generally gravitate towards dresses with defined necklines, and I don’t come across sundresses that I like often. In fact, this striped number from Loft Outlet is the only one of its kind in my closet. My friends have dubbed it the Megan dress because it suits me in more ways than one. My personal style is so defined that anyone who knows me can guess whether or not I’d wear a particular item. I can’t resist cotton and stripes, especially when the two are combined as they are in this particular dress that I purchased last year.

Works Sighted

Loft Outlet dress (old); Kate Spade sunglasses (old); J.Crew rattan clutch with chain strapCastañer Carina 60mm Wedge Espadrille; Sunbody swinger 5-inch wide brim Guatemalan palm leaf straw hat

Further Reading

Club Monaco belted A-line dress; Everlane cotton weave picnic dress; J.Crew tie-waist midi dress in seersucker; Tribe Alive linen slip dress; Brooks Brothers floral-embroidered cotton eyelet dress

The Charming Sun Hat

Although I don’t require an umbrella at the beach, I do need sunglasses and a little bit of shade for my face, otherwise I feel overheated. One summer day, after sitting on the sand with my family for many hours, I vowed never to spend an unprepared eternity in the sunshine again. My sunglasses hadn’t provided enough shade for the cloudless day. Thus, I set out on a mission to acquire a sun hat before our next stay in Cape May.

I’ve never been able to wear one-size-fits-all hats, and finding one that was offered in numbered sizes proved challenging. During the course of my search, I stumbled upon Village Hat Shop, an online retailer with five brick and mortar locations in California. They carry a brand by the name of Sunbody Hats, which is based in Houston, Texas and specializes in palm leaf designs. Village Hat Shop offers an extensive range of products from this brand, and I ultimately decided to purchase one with a 5-inch brim. It was delivered in a rather large box and the packaging inside somehow suspended the product so that it wouldn’t get jostled around whilst in transit. Although I purchased this hat to wear on long beach days, I also wear it in the city when the temperature rises. It provides UPF sun protection in the 50+ range and makes this Northerner look a little Southern.

Works Sighted

Sunbody swinger 5-inch wide brim Guatemalan palm leaf straw hat; J.Crew classic-fit boy shirt in seersucker; Hobbs skirt (old); J.Crew rattan clutch with chain strap; Castañer Carina 60mm wedge espadrille

5 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Health Right Now

Maintaining good health requires constant effort and can be tiring, which is why many people aren’t willing to put in the work. But, a life lived in good health is far more enjoyable than one lived in poor health. I’ve found that five actions in particular contribute to my overall wellbeing: eating well, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, exercising, and making time for myself. In the perfect version of my life, I would complete each of these five items every day. But, in reality, I rarely check all the boxes on my list of healthy actions in a single day.

On occasion, I eat pizza. Sometimes, the day closes and I haven’t consumed an adequate amount of water. Sometimes, I go to bed at a ridiculous hour. Now that the gym is closed (for the sake of social-distancing), I don’t exercise as much as I once did. Sometimes, I am so busy that I go too long without making time for myself. Maintaining good health is an intricate operation, and I’ve been able to maintain it because I make, more often than not, an honest effort within these five categories. All that effort adds up to measurable results.

Eating Well

I have been constantly acquiring new knowledge over the years about what it means to eat well, but it wasn’t until I completed the Whole30 program for the first time that I really knew what this meant. The basic premise of the program is to cut out certain types of foods—grains, added sugar, alcohol, dairy, and legumes—for 30 days to purge impurities from your body. At the end of the program, you are free to add the foods you’ve been abstaining from back into your system (gradually and at your own discretion). The point is to discover which foods are detrimental to your health. I knew that I had a low tolerance for grains, but I wasn’t aware of the damage sugar was wreaking on my body until my Whole30 journey. I also didn’t know that sugar is used unnecessarily as an ingredient in everything—at least in the U.S. Please read your nutrition labels! Even though I make exceptions for special occasions, the principles of the Whole30 program guide my everyday eating habits (no grains, added sugar, alcohol, dairy, or legumes).

While I recommend that everyone try Whole30 at least once, you don’t have to make a drastic commitment in order to jumpstart healthier eating habits. Comb through the Whole30 rules for inspirational bits of information. Shop on the outer perimeter of the supermarket where the refrigerated items are located. Don’t keep anything you know to be unhealthy (examples: soda, chips and sweets) in the house. If you have to buy juice, it should be real fruit juice. Try mixing it with water, and be conscious of how much you are drinking. Better health begins with knowing exactly what you are consuming.

Drinking Enough Water

I drink tap water that has been filtered through a Brita and chilled. Sometimes, I put fruit in it, but I also enjoy it unflavored from the pitcher. I’m also very fond of sparkling water. Perrier, LaCroix, Trader Joe’s, and Spindrift (which counts as my daily dessert) are my go-to brands.

It is easy for me to stay hydrated, not only because I have a variety of water to choose from, but because I own two reliable BPA-free water bottles. I only buy overpriced bottled water in the street if it is an absolute emergency. I’d rather save my money and transport water from home. If I need my water to stay cool for a prolonged period of time and don’t mind carrying the extra weight of the container, I opt for my 25 oz. S’well bottle. It keeps liquids cold or hot for many hours.

When I prefer a lightweight option, I bring my 32 oz. Nalgene bottle. The Nalgene doesn’t have insulation capabilities, so I have a small window of opportunity to consume the water before it reaches room temperature. But, it’s practically weightless when empty. If you are going on a journey where water isn’t readily available, don’t forget to bring it with you. Dehydration is dangerous, but it can be prevented.

The amount of water that one should drink varies from person to person and is influenced by a number of factors, such as weight and physical activity. While it is possible to drink too much, this has never been a personal concern of mine. I suspect that most people have a problem with not drinking enough rather than a problem with overhydrating. I aim for 8 cups of Brita-filtered water a day, but that goal doesn’t include sparkling water or other liquids. Thus, my water intake is actually a bit higher, especially on workout days.

Getting Enough Sleep

I often struggle with going to bed at a decent time. After our daily dinners, I usually rest on the sofa before carrying on with the rest of the evening chores. But, sometimes this ‘break’ extends into hours of the night. This means that I start completing my unfinished work at a time when I should be sleeping. After discussing my plight with my friends, we concluded the following: Don’t sit down; if you sit down, you’re in trouble. Now that I’ve realized that taking a break after dinner leads me down a sleepless path, I try to reserve my downtime until after I’ve gotten ready for bed. You won’t be able to solve the problem of not getting enough sleep unless you’ve uncovered the root of the issue. If you can relate to this problem, I suggest that you strategize (perhaps with friends) for ways in which you can do better.

Exercising

Sometimes, I’m really diligent about exercising, and sometimes, I’m not. I hired a personal trainer a few years ago, and even when I am the least motivated to exercise, she remains a motivational constant in my life. At the moment, we are conducting our training sessions online, which has worked out brilliantly. If you know that you will not exercise unless someone motivates you, perhaps you should hire a trainer. If you aren’t ready to do that, there are plenty of resources available for free on YouTube. While going for a daily walk has its health benefits, it probably won’t get your heart rate up. However, it’s definitely a good place to start.  

Making Time for Yourself

Do you ever feel like you do so much for other people, that you don’t have any energy left to do something nice for yourself? When I feel like this, I don’t feel whole. Fortunately, the solution to this problem is simple for me. I feel recharged when I do something for myself, even something as simple as reading or getting my nails done. Don’t forget to make time for yourself. My dear, you are worth the effort.

Works Sighted

Nalgene bottle; Hobbs Skirt (old); Superga 2790 Acotw (Navy); LL. Bean Boat and Tote

Espadrilles and Rattan Clutches

Espadrilles are my favorite spring/summer shoe. The sturdy jute wedge, textured canvas, and luxurious grosgrain ties had me at hello. During the summer of 2016, I wore a pair every day of the work week, and I remember how desponded I was when the time came to tuck them away in the closet at the end of the season. Back when we could enjoy social occasions like brunch, date nights at the movies, or vacations in general, my espadrilles were frequently cast as stars in my outfits. I’m not sure how I made it this far without an appropriate summer clutch to pair with them. This season, I made it my mission to find two clutches, either in rattan or straw, that would compliment my espadrille collection: one that would pair well with my dark espadrilles and one that would suit the lighter pairs. I decided on one style of clutch in two different colors. They are proving themselves very versatile, and the optional chain renders them exceptionally functional.

Works Sighted

J.Crew rattan clutch with chain strap; Castañer Carina 60mm Wedge Espadrille; Brooks Brothers skirt (old)

The Secret to Wearing a White Shirt Every Day

I have a friend who wears white shirts on a daily basis. When I asked her for the secret to maintaining fashion-shoot-worthy whites, she informed me that bleach and owning multiple shirts were key. “You can’t just have one,” she said. Some time after acquiring this information, I found myself in need of a slightly-more-professional fall uniform. I had assumed more responsibilities at work and wanted a look that suited my new role.

I’d already amassed a generous number of the J.Crew Martie pant in black and navy. They, along with two pairs of ballet flats in the same colors, anchored the lower half of this new look. Sometimes, I swapped the flats out for navy platform sneakers. The Superga 2790 Acotw made my legs look longer and elevated my uniform a bit more than the Superga 2750 Cotu to which I had been accustomed.

I’d made up my mind that the top half of my uniform would consist of classic white shirts. I bought seven cotton v-neck tees from Everlane and about an equal number of camisoles to layer underneath. I also added five white button-up tunic shirts to the mix. They were a little sheer, slightly oversized, and fit elegantly over the camisoles. Both white shirts looked polished under a light grey herringbone blazer that I acquired specifically for the upgrade. The blazer lent itself to being swapped out for a lightweight jacket or trench coat while running errands. Sometimes I’d skip an outerwear layer altogether.

The latest addition to my white shirt collection: the J.Crew slim perfect shirt in Baird McNutt Irish linen. This button-up shirt has the laid-back personality of summer: the sleeves roll up nicely, and it pairs well with shorts and skirts. By now, I’ve mastered the art of wearing white shirts in warm and cool weather. They are an essential staple, but you definitely need several of them in rotation to keep them looking flawless. My cleaning secret: soak the underarms (or the entire garment if needed) in a bucket with warm water and a generous amount of OxiClean. Do not use bleach.

Works Sighted

J.Crew slim perfect shirt in Baird McNutt Irish linen

Wearing My Silk Scarf as a Mask

Although I only cover my face on weekly visits to Trader Joe’s, I find the experience of not being able to breathe highly uncomfortable. Wearing an attractive silk scarf was the only solution I could come up with to make these outings a little bearable. At present, I own three silk scarves (all acquired due to the current state of things), but the first one I bought has especially seen its fair share of wear.  When it’s not covering the lower half of my face, I’m wearing it around my neck, tied around my wrist like a bracelet, or as a belt at the waist of a navy dress.

For the sake of cleanliness, I refrain from looping it around the handle of my purse, but this would be another option in better times. I’ve also entertained the idea of tying it around my ankle, but I haven’t put that thought to the test (again for the sake of cleanliness). I won’t wear a scarf for longer than a day without washing it, especially now that the summer heat and humidity have arrived. Laundering is simple and only requires the following: a bucket of cool water, Woolite, and a drying rack.

Works Sighted

J.Crew square silk scarf in lemon print (sold out); Boden Helena chino dress; Kayu mini Behati tassel straw tote; Castañer Carina 60mm wedge espadrille; Kate Spade sunglasses (old)

Further Reading

J.Cew square silk scarf in leopard print; J.Crew square silk scarf in leopard; J.Crew square scarf in Ratti print; Bembien Simone Scarf—crème; Bembien Simone Scarf—petite étoile