Forget erupting volcanoes and economic uncertainty: the big issue of the day is how to survive the impending summer without looking indecently undone. Tempting though it is to tear off our clothes and head for the nearest pool when confronted with the relentlessly climbing mercury, in reality we all have jobs and lives where appropriate attire is required. The pitfalls and perils of surviving the heat are many, especially with the shops starting to stock autumn clothes, but there are a few rules that will help you avoid looking too rumpled or uncomfortable.
Firstly, avoid anything too tight. This will eliminate the summer horror of perspiration marks and keep you the right side of decency. Next, think about colour: pastel tones are a no-no. Although they look soft and romantic indoors, the five-minute walk to the car will leave you with sweat patches. Nudes, though, cope with the heat surprisingly well. Those soft skin tones hide the heat marks and, when kept slightly loose and draping, stay looking grown-up all day long. Just be wary of sweat marks around the belt area if you opt for the cinched look.
It's probably best to refrain from delving into the slashed look as seen at Balmain: exquisite on the runway in Paris; not so when trying to hail a taxi. As for shoes, sad to say, flip-flops just do not cut the mustard in the sartorial stakes: cool on the feet, yes; cool on the street, no. Invest in pretty flats instead. You can also recycle last year's gladiators and still nail the look. In the end, the most practical and, this season, fashionable solution is layering. Once reserved for old ladies in cardigans, it is now de rigueur in fashion circles, the perfect way to cover shoulders and skin contours without adding unwanted bulk. Soft cottons and superfine knits are designed to be worn one over the other, and the light colours ensure you stay cool outdoors yet cosy in the frigid air-con of offices and malls. Silk, too, works brilliantly, though its high maintenance may require a dry cleaner on speed dial. Luckily, this summer's looks lend themselves perfectly to cool and collected cover-ups. Here's our guide to surviving the summer in style.
Living as we do by the sea, there is no excuse not to wholeheartedly embrace the nautical look. French stripes stay crisp all day, while high-waisted trousers elegantly solve the inexcusable muffin top. Top them with a cotton blazer with jaunty buttons and ships ahoy. Opt for a lightweight, unlined cotton jacket, which keeps you covered but is easy to maintain. The predominately white palette is perfect for this climate, and cotton can simply be slung in the washing machine. Ralph Lauren is the king of nautical so head to Dubai Mall and stock up, or go for Lacoste's fresh and sporty style.
The hippy Woodstock look is another easy way to cover up while nailing a key trend. Again, cotton dominates this look, but this time in romantic soft florals with pretty (yet practical) ventilating lace panels. Soft loose shirts, shift dresses and maxis abound, and worn over a simple T-shirt or paired with loose pale trousers, it's easy, effortless and very feminine. The longer-length shirts mean they can be worn belted over leggings and still remain demure. Again, the high street comes up trumps on this.
Maxi dresses are a season-on-season favourite, and perfect for cover-to-cool ratio. Zara has a great selection of pretty day/beach cotton pieces, while evening glam belongs to Chloé and its dreamy pale chiffon creations. The light tones stop it looking too serious, and the floaty layers allow for all-important air circulation. If colour is your thing, then Temperley of London does fabulous full-length dresses in hot fuchsias and zippy corals with goddess draping. But the maxi dresses of the season are Kenzo's flowing Moroccan-print ones, which drape like a dream, and, of course the ever popular Issa.
The jumpsuit, too, proves its staying power, coming in many guises this season. The combination of loose coverall with chic fashion savvy is irresistible, and with the flowing proportions of this season, it's far more wearable than early incarnations indicated. Full length is perfect for work, teamed with a tuxedo jacket (to ward off overzealous air conditioning) while shorter, sassier playsuits are great for the beach if you can still face it - though don't take them out in public, as they're far from modest. Check out Karina Grimaldi for zingy summery brights or Topshop for cute denim numbers.
The wave of graphic prints might strike fear into your soul, but for those who are brave of heart and deep of pocket, they mark a whole new way to cover up. Worn head to toe, the look is a little, shall we say, overpowering, but the proliferation of patterns helps to distract the eye from the creasing and sweating that inevitably accompanies the hot weather. Temperley London gets the jumpsuit and pattern trend wrapped up in one brilliant monochrome piece.