Look good in the heat

It’s all too easy to get hot and bothered in a heatwave, so read our tips and stay cool

By Marks and Spencer

By Marks and Spencer


Of all of things we Irish are good at – sport, dairy farming, speaking Irish (but only while in Turkey and attempting to out-haggle the rug salesman) – dressing for hot weather is not one of them. Sure, we can pack a suitcase with the best of them, chucking four €10 maxi dresses from Penneys on top of our cork wedges and hoping for the best, but when it comes to terrestrial heatwaves, we fall short.

Either we’re seriously under-dressed in a bandeau dress with sparkly flip flops, or we’re adhering to the office dress code in polyester, sweating profusely through layers of tailoring. And while two weeks of hot weather a year isn’t exactly worth overhauling one’s wardrobe for, there are some simple items that are worth having, and whipping out in weeks like this one.


This is quite possibly the trickiest of dress codes to master in the heat. If your office is air-conditioned, you can of course wear whatever you like – but I have yet to meet an Irish office whose air conditioning wasn’t mostly decorative.

To be safe, rather than sorry, stick with what you usually wear to work, but relax the colour and silhouette. If you are a suit trousers and shirt kind of gal, try a pair of bright trousers in a softer fabric, paired with a loose, cotton-mix blouse in a light colour.

On your feet, think of comfort first, followed by aesthetic – so a chunky sandal of some sort would be perfect. H&M’s latest offshoot, & Other Stories, does excellent leather sandals at good prices (about £65), and though it claims not to ship outside of the UK, you can bypass that restriction by using Parcel Motel (parcelmotel.com) to ship your selection.

If your office is a jeans and T-shirts type of establishment, you have a lot of options, but first ditch the denim: that way lies pain and prickly heat. Try pairing a fitted miniskirt with a loose, silk-blend tee and a pair of flat sandals. FitFlop’s Bon sandals in camel are really quite cool.


Given our national propensity for treating a night on the tiles like a night in a sauna, shedding the layers for happy hour shouldn’t be too much of a hardship. The truly difficult line to walk is that between beach and bar. You don’t want to turn up to a night event looking like you have come from sipping cocktails in the cabana – unless you have.

Steer clear of maxi dresses and bright, tropical prints and opt for something a little lighter and looser. H&M has some great printed dresses on its rails at the moment that are fully lined, meaning underwear needn’t be a big worry, but still light and airy, and great value at about €25.


Dressing for the beach involves one specific rule: less is more. This should not be taken in the Brazilian sense, where bikinis become thongs and, but maxi dresses are perfect for the beach (I suggest they are confined to same). They also allow you to get changed into and out of your swimwear easily.

If maxis aren’t your kind of thing, a pair of elasticated, loose trousers and a dark tee will look chic.

Ah, men – entirely ignored by the fashionable masses until the sun comes out and we begin to criticise their board shorts (too teenage) and flip flops (ugh, toes), until they are left with very little choice and even less self-esteem.

The most important consideration for the well-dressed man about town is perspiration.

Light, natural fabrics such as cotton and linen will keep you as dry as possible, and a short-sleeved shirt is a good option for the office. Try River Island for a good selection.

Don’t forget footwear. While Bear Grylls type “outdoors” sandals – you know the ones, with canvas straps and generous use of Velcro – are out, Birkenstocks are still quite acceptable, especially in chocolate brown leather.

Toms are also a good option. They are available at Office and you can bung them in the washing machine. For each pair of the canvas espadrilles sold, Toms will donate a pair of shoes to someone in the developing world.


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