Canadian Summer Wardrobe

Laci Schnoor, US Olympic Skier, appears to represent for Canada in Sports Illustrated

Laci Schnoor, US Olympic Skier, appears to represent for Canada in Sports Illustrated

What does one wear for a Canadian summer?

  • Sweaters and boots? Check.
  • Shorts and flip-flops? Check.

Like every place with a northern latitude, our summers are short and the weather variable.

I’ve been to a couple of places where it isn’t. For instance, a week in May in Washington DC was 37 C and sunny every day, with freezing air conditioning in every building. A week at the theme parks in Florida in August was also 37 C every day, with predictable torrential downpours at 4 o’clock. And in San Francisco, it’s cool and foggy every morning, until it clears up around 10 am for yet another 18 degree day! So no, not every place has variable weather. Someone from Jamaica once told me they don’t talk about the weather there because it’s always the same (except for hurricanes).

My summer wardrobe needs a makeover, but so does my motivation to do it!

My summer work look, just add a cardi! (Photo:

My summer work look, just add a cardi! (Photo:

I work in an air-conditioned building where I’m cold enough to need a sweater. So my summer work wear is dress pants, a plain-colour T-shirt, and a summer cardigan (of which I have many). I buy fresh work T-shirts every year or two – and hang them to dry, to preserve the colour.

At home I have one pair of shorts which I wear around the house when it gets over about 27C! I have a huge stack of casual T-shirts. When it’s too hot for T-shirts (that would be about 8 days a year!), I have a few tank tops.

Confession time – rather than create an actual hot weather wardrobe, when it gets too hot in the house, I will wear a short nightgown all day!

An easy solution would be to pick up a sun dress or two, but I just don’t like them or want to wear them. I have two nice cocktail dresses that I purchased for weddings, so I have special occasions covered, until they look dated.



My problems with sun dresses are:

  • Sundresses tend to be cute, and I don’t do cute! I found one last summer that I haven’t worn yet. It is ALL GREY and has an unusual design.
  • You need shoes or sandals to match. I only this week found canvas slip-ons to go with the one sun dress!
  • They don’t layer well. Either it’s hot enough for one or it isn’t!
  • My entertainment for the summer is usually concerts, festivals, family reunions, and other outdoor events which involve sitting on the ground
  • My lifestyle does not include drinks on restaurant patios while wearing immense sunglasses
  • I don’t go for the flowy, bohemian look – it is just not me.

So there you go, I am just not a sundress person. You would think I’d wear capris, but I don’t like them either. I’m not proportioned right for them!

My solution has been to retain an all-purpose, shorter denim skirt, and to buy a skort. You can layer with them, and wear casual shoes, and sit on the ground! I am not sure these fashion criteria are very typical, though.

The one summer dress I love and don’t own is a classic Dickies dress (as seen at the Hard Rock Cafe):

Dickies Dress (Photo:

Dickies Dress (Photo:

I would be interested to hear from anyone out there who prefers a practical, less feminine look for the summer. What do you wear? Is anyone but me afflicted with terrible modesty? (No beach wear!)

Of course, I could just emulate Mr. Walk n Talk because he is perfectly turned out every day!

Here are the options I’ve found so far. (Click a photo to start a slide show, if you like)


  1. We must have similar wardrobes. My standard uniform too is pants, tshirt and cardigan. I don’t do dresses or skirts, unless I have to, and only own one pair of shorts. My wardrobe is minimal, but works well. I hang up my stuff too, to preserve colour.

  2. Fiona

    Lol – I also sometimes wear the short nightgown at home if it’s really hot! Very practical! I’m mostly a pants and tshirt girl as well, exactly the same as your work look most of the time. For warm days (35C-45C) I do own one long skirt for work, plus some flowing linen pants. Anything too fitted gets hot and clammy in the heat! At home though, it’s shorts (or bike shorts) and tee-shirts all the way.

    • I think 35-45 is beyond warm…our temp of 31 last week set a record here! A few years back, I worked in a non-air-conditioned building for a summer, and I had a couple of long, sleeveless dresses.

  3. Lisa

    Currently, our weather is in the 30s with the humidity pushing it higher, so I am largely wearing shorts and shirts around home (I don’t even wear tank tops). To go out, I’ll wear capris/skort and a shirt/blouse. Nothing fancy nor too dressy. For work, when I was in the office (I did do some field work), I’d usually wear capris/ casual pants and a short-sleeved blouse with a sweater for the AC (why must they keep office buildings so cold?!). I really don’t like skirts or dresses either. They feel too feminine and high maintenance – like I would then need the shoes and cute accessories to go with them. I do see some smartly dressed women around, but I start to add up the cost and time to maintain such a look and I lose any motivation to copy it. I am also very short and hippy so not exactly the proportion to wear some of these outfits well. Much to my mother’s disappointment, I never took to dresses, heels and lipstick!

    • I sounds like you dress much like I do, too. I agree that one reason I avoid dresses and skirts is because of the shoes and accessories required. Last year I wanted to buy a synthetic colour-block dress, but it was so clingy I would have had to buy a “body shaper” for underneath – thereby doubling the cost!

  4. You’re telling us you aren’t wearing what Laci’s wearing? What a shame!

    I used to be against dresses, particularly studying engineering, but in the last year or two, I’ve taken to house dresses (and out/church dresses) and I love how cool they can be – seeing it doesn’t get as chilly here in Sydney. I am strategic though – none of them cling/need shaprewear! They are hard for picnics and the like though, so I empathise with your point on that!

    I used to be a big dressing gown dresser, but the summer one wasn’t ‘light’ enough. With a rotation of jersey dresses for home only, I’m a little more modest and comfy! I wish you luck, should you want to find a dress – it’s no mean feat!

    • Naw, the bikini and skis look doesn’t do it for me 🙂 I wouldn’t say I’m actively looking for any dresses, but if I accidentally spot one I like, I stop and think about what I would need to wear with it.

  5. Since I have spent a lot of my summers doing fieldwork, my wardrobe consists of practical shorts and T-shirts. I’ve never owned a sundress and never really thought about owning one – it has to be a very special occasion for me to wear a dress! I have bought some long skirts in the past few years, so try and wear them when I’m not in the field in summer.

    We have the same problems here with everywhere being air-conditioned to the point of being freezing. We had a particularly cold May and the air conditioning was still on then, meaning I needed to wear two jumpers and shoes in the office!

    • EOK, it would be interesting to know what your field work consists of, if you would consider posting about it! Today will be 30 C and I am bringing a sweater to work as usual because it will be so cold there.

  6. My summer wardrobe consists of linen trousers and t-shirts – no flouncy dresses for me either. Like Fiona – I wear a nightdress around the house when it’s hot……makes my postman laugh 😉

    • How do you fare with linen – does it need ironing?

      When I wear my little nightdress around the house, I get reclusive and don’t answer the door (I have to pick up my mail from a superbox anyway). At worst I take the garbage out in my skimpy workout wear!

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