A guide to beating the sticky summer heat in style

Words: Modupe Oloruntoba | Photographs: Rudi Geyser | Stylist: Gavin Mikey Collins

As a true summer lover, I hate to say it but the people who favour winter over summer might have it right. You can pile on layers in the cold but in SA’s dry, unforgiving heat, stripping down is more likely to burn you up (literally - wear sunscreen kids!) than cool you down. You could be standing there stark naked (not recommended) with just your shoes on (I’d recommend these) and still burn to a crisp because heat just doesn’t work the way cold does. Add that to the challenge of choosing an outfit in the morning that works in the sweltering sun and under the office aircon, and summer is officially uncomfortable. My hometown Lagos reaches highs of 42 degrees in the summer so it can be a little hard not to roll my eyes when people panic at 28, but I’ve decided to dismantle my Equatorial privilege and help you out (#PanAfrican). You can beat the heat; you just need to know how. We put together 12 hacks to get you through summer without breaking a sweat, so come through. Rise. Achieve.


Hack 1: Start with a few fool proof white tees, and stock up now while everyone’s outchea trying to do the most with prints and sequins and embellishments. Less is more with styling; white tees never really need to try and neither should you. Pick an easy cut - not too fitted - and pair with your tailored shorts at work, a breezy pair at the beach, and your cut-offs on the weekend. Go easy on the accessories for balance.

Hack 2: Drink up! You need to stay hydrated - water, water, and more water. If you’re a creature of warm beverage habit, consider swapping your morning coffee or tea for the iced version of the same. Iced tea is everywhere but apparently Americans are still the only people who like frappucinos, so coffee drinkers like me should head to Braam or Bree and ask the foodies where you can find some cold brew - it’s a thing now. Tea lovers should consider fruity ice cubes - let berries, citrus and mint sit in a jug of water overnight on the counter and freeze them the next day for your morning cuppa.


Hack 3: Rock some stylish workout wear - most of it is already designed to keep you cool, and I don’t think you need to hear anything more about how athleisure has taken over, right? You’ve got options: full length leggings with mesh panels, floaty retro crop tops, mix with your regular street clothes, and finish with all the Reeboks, Nikes, and Adidas kicks your sneakerhead-heart desires. Bonus points for actually going to the gym after posting that misleading selfie (you know what you did).

Hack 4: Carry a tool kit. Blistex is to winter as wipes are to summer - they should never leave your handbag. Other notable mentions: sunglasses with real UV cover, a deodorising spray, powder/mattifying gel for your face, an extra top for boiler room days (because sweat is perfectly natural but still perfectly unpleasant) and a USB phone fan if you’re extra and don’t care about your battery life.

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Hack 5: Bring your swimwear to the streets. I don’t know about you but if I am spending money on a swimsuit (or anything else for that matter), no one’s going to tell me where and when I can wear it. Your monokini would make a cute cut out top and you know it. My tip? Get one in summer’s must-have print: palms.

Hack 6: Try a little mesh. Or lace, or voile - it's built in ventilation! If you're not keen on showing that much skin (or getting a polka-dot tan) try a skirt or dress with an extended mesh hem, a sheer shirt dress worn layered, or mesh sleeves.


Hack 7: Invest in a lazy dress. It’s not lazy because it’s the ugly one you wear when you’re behind on your laundry. It’s lazy because it lets you be lazy. A banging cut, a beautiful print, and bob’s your stylish uncle.

Hack 8: Understand the science of the air pocket. Apparently, there’s a layering trick that keeps you cool: Wear a tee, tank, or vest and cover with a shirt that hangs away from the body (thrown over or buttoned down). Why? Because the space between them works as a personal ventilator when you move. Who knew?

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Hack 9: Get a bucket hat. Mostly for practical reasons - mobile shade - but also for the fashion. Wide brims are an option, and visors are cute, but if you care at all about cultural relevance, the bucket is the one you want this summer.

Hack 10: The updo. Just pack your hair up and away from your neck, any way you know how. I know you were looking forward to tossing it at the bar in your new dress, but once there is sweat involved I guarantee you will regret whipping that mess. If you find plain ponytails a touch boring, consider a small scarf as an alice band, or even a bandana. They might be back, people cooler than I are wearing them as neckerchiefs around the office.


Hack 11: Keep your distance. Not from people - it’s cuffing season, right? I’m talking about necklines and arm holes. Check that you halter neck and cut away tops don’t sit too high under your arm, because chafing is not a vibe. Simple.

Hack 12: Do the "Monica Rose." You know the one, everyone Monica (that Hollywood stylist) works with does it. You put on a jacket, but you only go halfway and let it hang from just below your shoulders, ala Kardashian or Hadid, hands gingerley emerging from what now looks like an oversized sleeve. You get style points and breathing room. If you didn't know, now you do.