The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Summer in Lolita

Summer is right around the corner and for some of us that means nightmare-inducing levels of heat. Having partially grown up near the equator I am well aware of what a headache it is to even think about layers, but you shouldn’t have to wait out those months to wear lolita again!

The Right Fabric & The Right Cut

Let’s focus on fabrics that will maximize the flow of air through the clothing so that heat can escape as well as some cuts that are more loose-fitting to allow the fabric to do that. As a general rule, natural fibers such as cotton and linen tend to “breathe” better than synthetics, which do a better job of insulating.

100% Cotton is a natural material that breathes very well and is great at absorbing moisture. It may be a little too good at absorbing moisture, however, and can stay damp for some time which may start to stain around the armpit and neck. Cotton may not be the best choice for a blouse or onepiece when trying to avoid the dreaded pit stain, but they’d be a great choice of bloomers for containing perspiration from the undercarriage.

Linen & Rayon are other natural materials (well ok rayon is semi-synthetic but it’s made from natural cellulose) that are cool and absorbent and don’t retain water as well as cotton does which makes them a great material for summer. Linen in particular tends to be woven loosely, making it ideal for airflow.

Chiffon is my favorite for summer because this sheer fabric drapes airily on the form. Several different materials can be used to make chiffon, so it depends on the garment when determining if it’s well suited for heat. Avoid wearing silk chiffon in the sun because rays and perspiration can deteriorate the material.

In general, sticking to light fabric in terms of weight and color will keep you cool. One of my best dresses for summer is made from 100% polyester but it works well because the fabric is so thin and weightless.

The best cuts for summer are ones that won’t hug the body too much, as this restricts airflow. For main pieces this issue is focused in the bodice, so silhouettes with smaller bodices such as empire or underbust which have a smaller area of fabric hugging the body are ideal.

Empire waist dresses have the benefit of a taller skirt, which means air is circulating through more of the body before being closed out by the bodice.

Trapezoid shapes do not typically have a tight enough bodice (if any at all) to cut airflow off, leaving air to circulate around the body completely. They also require a much lighter petticoat than normal- and the more relaxed ones may not even need a petticoat- which leaves another layer out.

Underbusts use less fabric on the bodice, exposing the chest to breathe properly.

Halter tops look fantastic without a blouse for the more daring of us, which takes off an important layer that likes to trap heat.

Skirts are, of course, a great choice for removing the bodice altogether. Avoid skirts with a tight elastic waistband because it may irritate your skin when you start to perspire.

For summer blouses I generally try and stick to the most airy ones I own because the fabric will come in contact with me less. Between my long-sleeved chiffon and my short-sleeved cotton I tend to favor the chiffon because it feels like I have nothing on!

Re-consider Your Undergarments

Be sure to trickle the consideration for materials and cuts all the way down your layers to the pieces nobody sees, and avoid tight elastic where possible.

Bloomers on the shorter side will sufficiently protect your modesty with less coverage, while longer ones are better suited for absorbing uncomfortable sweat. Some people skip bloomers altogether and prefer stretchy shorts!

Petticoats, while I do love them, can stay at home if the chosen dress already has one built-in or is shaped so that one is unnecessary. Even a petti with less layers than your usual will allow more air to pass through.

Ankle socks are probably your best bet for comfortable legwear, but in general cotton socks will do. Avoid printed tights because they are typically printed on fabric with a much higher thickness than sheers so that the images can be opaque.

Cotton undershirts -wait, haven’t I been preaching about less layers and how cotton soaks up moisture? This is just a different tactic to avoid sweat on your precious dresses, because having an underlayer to soak it up will prevent it from reaching your lolita.

Camisoles are great for the above, and allow you to wear those airy chiffon blouses with an underbust or skirt. Nudes or coordinated colors topped with lace can also add another element of delicacy to your ensemble.

Hair & Headwear

Wigs were item #1 on last year’s list of do’s and don’ts for beating the summer heat and I continue to feel that it is the most notable “don’t”. I love my wigs to pieces and they can be such a time saver, but they can also be the biggest difference between a comfortable coord and an overheated mess. Natural hair has been rising in popularity so use it to your advantage and brush up on some cute hairstyles!

Check out my pinterest board for more inspiring lolita hairstyles!

If you feel your hair is too thin to be left down then try a few volumizing hair products or attach extensions. A nice updo can alleviate the need for more hair with the added bonus of sweeping a layer off your neck and back which are areas prone to sweat.

There are benefits to doing both as much or as little as you like when it comes to headwear. An elegant updo topped with hair combs has the advantage of letting the scalp breathe, while full-size hats are great for keeping the sun out of your face and providing some shade. As far as hats go:

Boater hats are a great option for the heat because they are nearly always made from woven straw. This allows air to pass through easier to cool off the scalp.

Victorian & tea hats typically feature a very wide brim that shades the face, which is not only great for maintaining a cool temperature but it helps keep a youthful appearance by shielding you from the sun. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear sunscreen though!

On Preventing Sweat

At last, the topic that ultimately decides whether or not to leave the house in lolita on a hot day. Preventing perspiration can not only lead to a more comfortable experience, it can also help extend the life of your fabrics. Pilling, yellowing, and deterioration are ways in which bacteria and other properties can cause damage from sweat.

Antiperspirant is different from deodorant. One stops perspiration by blocking the pores while the other deodorizes sweat that has already formed. It should be applied in a light layer the night before so it can sink in while the body is at a cooler temperature. Deodorant is not needed after this step.

Deodorant isn’t the greatest choice to protect lolita if you think about it. Sweat will continue to form (just in a more pleasant odor), and the ingredients in the deodorant mixed with the ingredients in sweat can be a recipe for stains. However, deodorant is great on a day off from lolita because wearing antiperspirant every day may irritate the skin.

Underarm pads (also called dress or garment shields) are a surefire way to protect fabric from perspiration. Be sure to get the kind that attaches to your skin and not your clothes because adhesive isn’t good for the fabric and it’s more likely to shift!

Baby or feminine wipes make a great quick solution to refresh yourself and prevent stains. Finishing up with a moist cloth will remove any active ingredients the wipes leave on your skin.

Parasols and hand fans, didn’t think I would leave this out did you? Parasols are prized for their shade while hand fans are an exceptionally elegant relief from the heat. It’s all about prevention!

Do you do anything special to beat the heat? I like to spray my bedsheets with lavender scented linen water before going to sleep for a cool refresher. Have a sugar-sweet day and thanks for reading!