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Survive summer, the definitive essentials list


Did summer totally take anyone else by surprise this year? I swear it was about eight degrees and rainy, then suddenly I woke up one morning and summer had arrived! Unprepared, I have spent the last fortnight desperately scrabbling around to work out what essentials I need at all times (last year I was newly post natal, and the summer before I was suffering horrendous morning sickness and frankly considered getting dressed an enormous achievement, so summer wardrobe planning has been off the agenda for a couple of years now). I did a comprehensive summer capsule wardrobe post a few weeks ago, but I thought I’d also share my current can’t-live-without essentials list for anyone else who was caught as off guard as I was. It’s a bit of a mix of clothes, accessories and handbag essentials to get you through the summer months:

  1. Sun cream – I like La Roche Posay Anthelios XL – it doesn’t make my sensitive skin sore or spotty, which is always a win in my book.
  2. Strappy top – no matter how body-shy you are, having a strappy top available, whether it’s to wear in the safety of your own garden or to pair with a pair of teeny weeny denim shorts to stride confidently out in, is an absolute essential for those baking hot days. I am loving the Kettlewell halter neck at the moment (especially in summery New Lime for us Autumns), but the soft square sleeveless and camisoles are great alternatives, depending on which one best suits your body shape. Cover your arms with a lightweight linen shirt if you feel self conscious.
  3. Flat sandals – ridiculously expensive, but I am deeply in love with 95% of the K. Jacques St Tropez sandals, and they are a confirmed summer classic among the fashion pack. They have a reputation for excellent quality, and the mix of styles means there really is something for everyone. You may prefer the failsafe options of Birkenstocks or Havaiana flip flops (yes, they really are the best flip flops in the world) if you prefer a more casual summer sandal.
  4. Cashmere stole – I put this in every single ‘essentials list’, whether it’s spring, summer, autumn or winter. The beauty of natural fibres like cashmere and silk is that they aren’t too hot in summer but are nice and cosy in winter, and they usually pack down fairly small to stuff into a bag. Use your cashmere stole in summer to instantly convert your strappy top (you know, the one you rushed out to buy after reading point 2 above) from day to evening, or to warm up on a cool day, or to use as an emergency sunshade on the pram or any one of a million other uses.
  5. Sunglasses – because it’s summer, people. And sunglasses make every outfit look more polished (I get through a lot of school runs on about 12 seconds to get dressed and another 12 seconds to apply lipstick and sunglasses). If you worry about what style suits you, take a trusted friend (or your image consultant!) and go somewhere with lots of shapes and see which one you look and feel the most confident in.
  6. Beach bag – because it just looks more summery than that sensible handbag you usually tote round. Instantly summerify any outfit by adding a beach bag.
  7. Eight hour cream or other balm/cream combo – another one that makes it into every ‘essentials’ list. Use it as a lip balm, to sooth sore skin after climbing rocks at the beach, as aftersun on burnt noses and ears and as a cuticle cream when you have five minutes peace to sit in the sunshine (it could happen, right?)
  8. Foot cream – for your own confidence and everyone else’s sanity. A full on indulgent pedicure is lovely, but if you haven’t got either the time or the inclination, go for a foot cream which will tackle cracked heels (one with a urea content of 10% plus is great for this) which will help with skin turnover and keep your heels soft and crack free (and therefore pain free, as well as pretty).
  9. A not-a-coat coat – see here if you have no idea what I mean. Essential for covering up on cooler summer days (which we have plenty of here in the UK). Here it’s the Kettlewell long cascade in Mole.
  10. A lighter brighter lipstick for adding polish – if you are a confident lipstick wearer, why not step back from red and try a pink shade for summer – coral shades for the warm seasons or pinks for the cooler ones. And if you don’t normally wear lipstick at all, summer is a great time to try a tinted gloss or lip balm – again, go for coral shades if you are a Spring or an Autumn, and pinky shades for Winters and Summers.

In other news, I’ve had a few requests for a summer capsule wardrobe from those of you who don’t just need school run style, but who need to actually show up to a real job occasionally. It’s coming soon!