Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

Keeping Cool Under the Dome

Just adding my bone fides…

As noted in the last post, it’s hot here. I live in Central Virginia, in Richmond, named for another city with seven hills across the pond. And it is for those of my readers abroad that this post is intended.

You may not think of Virginia as being “in the South” the way that you think of, say, Louisiana, or Georgia, but we get the breezes. And the breezes are hot and humid.

Go ahead and read the “Today:” part of the forecast on the screenshot from my phone. I’ll translate. The high will be 36ºC with a heat index of 40ºC. And, the air conditioning in my car has just gone on the blink.

Now, as I understand it, some of you all will be living under a heat dome lovingly called “Lucifer” for a bit. I’m sorry. So, I thought I might pass on a little Colonial wisdom for dealing with hazy, hot, and humid.

Let’s start with yesterday’s post. Cold foods are your friend. Gazpacho, vichyssoise, cold roast chicken, salad, Tortilla Española, smoothies and anything else that can be eaten cold or at room temperature are the ticket. Weirdly, hot tea, coffee, and spicy foods are standard in hot countries, the idea being to break a sweat and let the breezes cool you off. I’m happier with a cold drink, but I’m Southern, and besides, the humidity doesn’t let perspiration evaporate very well. Staying hydrated is important, add electrolytes to water to make sports drinks, just stay away from sugar unless you really need the energy and will burn it off quickly. Herbal teas (iced in my case) are good changes of pace, sparkling water, lemonades (the Indian version that adds a bit of salt is good for when things turn sweaty), and of course, iced tea. To make an Arnold Palmer, mix up half a glass of lemonade over ice and pour in a half glass of iced tea. Sweeten to taste.

Now we turn to what to wear. Loose, open weave clothing and technical fabrics have served me very well.

Shirts in linen, or airy weaves in light cotton are great. Linen actually releases moisture better than cotton, though. I’m also a fan of Sunspel’s Riviera polos and, to a lesser extent because of the (small amount of) visible branding, Mack Weldon’s Vesper and DryKnit polos. Don’t forget Uniqlo’s AIRism polos, either! (And their boxers and undershirts, too, if you’re forced to wear an undershirt.) I’ve worn this stuff from Israel to Florida and it works.

Trousers are the more difficult part if you can’t stand to look wrinkled, as “guaranteed to wrinkle linen” (my tailor’s term) is my go-to for shorts and trousers. If you can get them with side adjusters and avoid the belt, so much the better. Other options include wool frescos, tropical weight wool and seersucker. Lightweight chinos/poplin khakis are fine, but make sure they’re not too tightly cut. The key here is to let air circulate as much as possible to help keep you dry.

If you can go sockless, do, otherwise, I like to wear lightweight merino since it wicks moisture where cotton won’t.

Suits and sports coats should be unlined and made from the lightweight stuff and open weaves, think lighter colours, too.

Choose unlined suede shoes whenever possible. Woven leather shoes work almost as well for me. Leather soles always breathe better than rubber.

When all else fails, take another cool shower and reach for plenty of Gold Bond Body Powder. For instructions on application, pour yourself a lemonade or iced tea and watch Frank Sinatra as Pvt. Angelo Maggio get ready for liberty in “From Here to Eternity”.

One thought on “Keeping Cool Under the Dome

  1. Dearest Chris,
    Just was pondering about the time when Labor Day arrives the temperature will become a lot more pleasant down south.
    Even though, both of us never have had any problem during the summer. IF you know what to wear and have some knowledge about fabric contents, you’re fine.
    Both of us go biking, at least if the weather permits since we got the wettest spring and summer it looks like.
    Stay ‘fresh’ till we get some relief.

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