School starts today, and I find myself wondering where the summer has gone. Unlike years past, when we limp through August, waiting for that magical day when the kids get back to routine, this summer flew by fast. Jack and Colin have dubbed it “best summer ever” in no small part due to an exciting camp schedule. They kicked off with wilderness survivor camp (not zombie survival camp, as the kids have been billing it) which segued into their first experience with sleep away camp. Art camp was followed by a woefully mis-advertised culinary camp supplemented with at-home cooking lessons, and a visit from Aunt Meghann fed into ten days (without me) in Maine with their cousins. A few days at the Jersey Shore capped off vacation. Throughout, pool visits abounded; sleepovers were plentiful. The kids end the summer with golden tans (despite my best SPF efforts) and blonde hair, more independent and confident in their growing bodies.
I’m not usually a fan of summer. I hate the heat and humidity, especially when I’m expected to wear professional attire and still look presentable (read: not melted). But this year was different. My work load was light, meaning I could get away with wearing denim cut offs and a t-shirt as I sat in front of the computer and worked on novel number two. The weather was tolerable; I didn’t even fix my AC, broken since the end of last summer, until after the Fourth of July. And while I long for the beauty of fall (and tall boots, scarves, cashmere) for once I’m not cursing DC in August.
Of course, that could all change with an extended heat wave.
I want to love summer. Pool time. Beach season. Easy breezy attitudes. Dry rosés and barbecue.
But the truth is, I hate it. Summer is stifling when it’s hot and humid and you have a professional dress code to adhere to Monday thru Friday. The pool is nice, but with kids it isn’t always relaxing. When was the last time I went to the beach? The answer would be Hawaii. In December.
Easy breezy? Congress is in high dysfunction mode and summer camp is harder to prep kids for than school.
But one of the factors I hate most is my summer casual wardrobe. I don’t find shorts to be very flattering. It’s hard to find summery dresses that fall between too girly and too soccer mommy. And I hate every pair of sandals on the market.
Which is odd because you know I love shoes. I have tried and tried to find acceptable summer footwear. I can’t do flat sandals, but I don’t always want a heel on the weekends or super hot days. Please no ankle cuffs. (I don’t like to look shackled, though I do like how gladiators look on other women.) Flip flops should be reserved for the pool and/or beach. Flatforms are out of the question.
(As my friend Hillary tweeted yesterday: “I don’t care if Coco Chanel came down from the heavens and told me to get flatforms, I will never ever (ever) buy them.”)
But I haven’t given up yet. I’m hopeful that my “friendsIhaven’tmetyet” at the Shoe Hive can help rescue me. In the need for some retail therapy this sticky, concussed (still) day, I ordered a pair of sandals (pewter, simple, low wedge) from them that just might hit the mark.
And if they do, then please, someone host a BBQ. I promise to bring good wine.
I don’t really have a solution to offer, but wanted to make sure I express my sympathy for all the men I saw (and the many more I didn’t personally see) slugging to work through the heat and humidity on this brutal first day of summer. While I did not see a single woman wearing a dress or blouse with any hint of a sleeve, all the men I saw were already melting in their long-sleeved work shirts, even before donning jacket and tie.
There are many times that I thank the stars I am a woman, no more so than this time of year. Our professional wardrobe options are so much more vast. Let’s be honest, most men can’t carry off the seersucker suit with Trent Lott aplomb. (I think you have to be a fifth generation southern gentleman to really own it.) Lightweight wool? Sounds like an oxymoron to me, but even though I know what is meant by the term, it still sounds dreadful on a day expected to be in the mid-90s. Even if your suit is indeed of a lightweight fabric like poplin, you still have to tie a noose around your neck from 9 to 5, Monday thru Friday.
I don’t have any great ideas for changing up what professional options you have for this time of year (khakis are not the answer). But I do have an idea that is worth consideration. Since we’re never going to get a “heat day” off from work in the summer the way we get snow days in the winter, perhaps the federal government could institute a policy of “no jacket and tie days.” It could be the summer equivalent to “liberal leave” during inclement weather in the winter.
Until that time, hang your shirt, jacket and tie on a hanger and wear something light and airy for your walk to work or walk from the metro or your car. Just don’t do what the guy I saw this morning did. He had said hanger with office attire on it, but opted to walk to work in his wife-beater. And while I feel bad for all you overdressed men out there, no woman wants to see a sweaty man in a tank top.