hot mess

this is what our air feels like to breath today

As this week’s more-than-balmy temperatures have clearly established, it’s summer. But this is not the summer of our youth. More than one million acres of the United States is covered by a so-called heat dome. Today’s heat index in DC is expected to reach 120. Do we really have to go to work and dress professionally? Shouldn’t the government give us a “heat index” day? I’d much rather have the city closed on a day like today than on a day when we get 6 inches of snow.

But I digress. While there probably isn’t much one can do to dress for the weather today, on a normal, low-90s hot and humid DC day, you can make wardrobe choices that will keep you cooler but allow you to still look professional. For example, from the time the post-winter temperatures climb into the 60s until it’s cool enough for tall boots, my legs are always bare.  Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, this is a choice not only dictated by weather. Overall, I am, you might say, anti-pantyhose. I wear opaque tights in the fall/winter, but there is nothing that would ever compel me to don a pair of pantyhose any time of year. Not even Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, and ridiculously outdated royal protocol are likely to change my mind.

Royal fashion aside, if you are going to reveal bare legs this summer, I’d like to offer some seasonal rules to live by:

1. If you reject leg coverage for the office, your skirt length better be long enough and the material should be work appropriate.  I’m not a prude. I’m fun and adventurous when it comes to my wardrobe. But don’t wear a skirt-length that better belongs in a nightclub or at the beach. No one should look like a skin-tern.

2. If you are a coverage “tween” and opt for Spanx, just a warning that we should not be able to see the signs of said underpinnings when you are sitting down with your legs crossed.

3. If you use self-tanner at least apply it correctly. One guy friend of mine reported seeing a woman on the metro recently who had only applied self-tanner to the bottom half of her legs. Personally, I reject self-tanners. I hate the smell. I hate the color. But if you must self-tan, at least do the whole leg.

I understand that some stuffy offices might not allow you to skip hose. If this is the case for you, I only ask that you please don’t wear heavy black tights on a 98-degree day. Seriously, Kaitlan witnessed a woman doing just that the other day. And today, Holly saw a woman wearing long black leggings. Pants are always a better (and breezier) option.

And ladies, be thankful that you don’t have to wear a so-called “lightweight wool” navy blue suit with your shirt buttoned snugly around the neck and a tie wrapped around for good measure. This is one area where we have one up on the boys.


Dear Chelsea Chronicles Chelsea Chronicles:

I have been eying this Tory Burch belt for a couple of weeks now, but I am nervous about spending so much money on one accessory. I know that I’ll wear it at least 2-3 times a week though. So my questions are: how much is too much to spend on a belt, and if I do buy this belt and wear it several times a week, am I going to be known as That Tory Burch Belt Girl?

Appreciatively: That Belt Girl

Dear That Belt Girl:

For years, I never owned even one belt. Then I transitioned into belts to wear with jeans. Then Michelle Obama became First Lady and rocked the belt world off its axis. I bought skinny belts. I bought studded belts. But always on sale at J. Crew during their “take an extra 30% off sale items” offers because it was hard for me to justify paying a lot for something that seemed extraneous. After all, I had lived without them for so long, and I assumed some day I’d tire of the look.

But then, about 18 months ago, I found myself in a similar situation as you, pondering the purchase of a belt that was more comparable to the price of a pair of good shoes. After talking it through with my fashionable friend Janna, I decided to make the investment. And let me tell you, I wear that belt at least 2-3 times a week. I wear it with jeans. I belt dresses. I belt pencil skirts. Sometimes I mimic the FLOTUS and wear the belt over my cardigan. Or I might belt the shirt I am wearing and throw on a cardigan or blazer. I even belt blazers. I love the belt I splurged on; my cost-per-wear ratio has justified the purchase. And as far as I know, no one calls me by any belt-inspired moniker. Buy it. Belt it. Enjoy it.

Dear Chelsea Chronicles:

Are Spanx really more comfortable than the girdles our grandmother’s used to wear?

Breathlessly Yours: Constricted

Dear Constricted:

My only basis for a Spanx vs. girdle comparison is a story I recently heard from my grandmother. She faithfully wore a girdle (with garter and pantyhose) everyday. Then one day, while in the ladies room at the office where she worked, she complained to a colleague about the constricted nature of her undergarments. The woman exclaimed, “what? you still wear a girdle?” and my grandmother, shocked (but pleased) to hear they were no longer a fashion requirement, promptly took hers off and threw it away, even though it was brand new, never to don one again.

I imagine we all have a love-hate relationship with Spanx, but I have to guess that today’s modern version of what our grandmothers wore is indeed more comfortable or the girdle would have made a comeback by now. Sorry that I can’t always be the bearer of brighter news. Beauty can be painful.

Don’t forget to send me your Dear Chelsea Chronicles questions and your Style This! requests.