What to Wear in Summer When You Hate Showing Any Skin

Oh summer, why do you come and taunt me so? I’m very happy in winter clothes—thrilled, in fact: I love tights (yes, I know that puts me in 1% of the fashion population), roll-necks are my homies, knee-high boots or over-the-knee numbers are joyful go-tos for as long as climatically possible, scarves and hats are wonderful accoutrements and there’s nothing more satisfying, IMHO, than wrapping up in a lovely coat. You get the picture—I like being covered-up. But the summer season and random bursts of incredible/insanely muggy weather clearly don’t make such a modest fashion quest an easy one.

The thought of baring my arms or revealing anything above my knees (maybe not even my knees at all) brings me out in a cold sweat. Skin, for me, is a holiday thing. Something to be revealed to the world only when it’s absolutely necessary and hopefully slightly sun-kissed on day six into a seven day holiday. So I spend all summer, every summer, finding ways to literally and sartorially keep my cool, while remaining entirely under wraps.

I don’t do body-con. I don’t do whimsical mini-dresses. I don’t do bandeaus. Or halter-necks. Or rompers. Or vest tops. And I definitely, at all costs, avoid wearing shorts. I’m certain they are the devil’s spawn in clothing form. It’s not that I’ve got a mile-long list of restrictive body hang-ups, I just feel so much happier and confident being covered-up and ladylike than putting everything on show. Call me old-fashioned or prudish, but if any designers are currently pondering the concept of stylish tents as ready-to-wear, I would urge them to run with it.

Fortunately for me, modest fashion and demure dressing are in demand right now—never before have there been so many hipster-approved culottes, sack dresses, baggy trousers or long-sleeved boho blouses in the offing—2016's is actually the simplest summer wardrobe I’ve ever assembled. So scroll down to see how I put together a hot-weather closet that keeps me well and truly covered up—then shop some key pieces if you agree with me!


Off-the-Shoulder Tops (When You Don't Want to Show Your Shoulders)
(Image credit: Phill Taylor)

On Hannah Almassi: Jigsaw Pima Cotton T-Shirt (£29); Isa Arfen Checked Cotton And Silk Off The Shoulder Top (£605).

Love that off-the-shoulder top, but don't feel quite prepped to wear it yet? Then a white T-shirt is your very bestest friend. 


Summer Tailoring, Solved
(Image credit: Phill Taylor)

On Hannah Almassi: Lacoste jacket; Apiece Apart Tayana Slub Woven Wide-Leg Pants (£355); New Look shoes; Prada sunglasses.

It's not too stuffy and warm to wear trouser suits all year round; it's just a case of looking for summer-friendly cottons and linens. In fact, forgo a top altogether and stay cool with a belted jacket.


Demure Wedding Attire
(Image credit: Phill Taylor)

On Hannah Almassi: Vintage dress; Tabitha Simmons shoes; Mawi earrings.

I'm fairly certain this is a 1970s dressing gown (so?), but the colour and fabric still nod to summer weddings and a certain slinkiness, without making me feel like I'm that potentially overdone miniskirted girl at the party. Also, very good for twirling moments on the dance-floor.

Related: How to Dress for a Beach Wedding and Not Look Inappropriate


Everyday Workwear
(Image credit: Phill Taylor)

On Hannah Almassi: Lisa Marie Fernandez Striped Shirt Dress (£395); Maryam Nassir Zadeh Sophie Suede Sandals (£340); Raoul scarf.

A roomy shirt-dress like this is my summer saviour—but I always have to safety pin in-between buttonholes. If I undo one more we're in brassiere territory; if I do one more up, I'll look matronly. A neckerchief adds a further dash of coverage.


Sightseeing in the Heat
(Image credit: Phill Taylor)

On Hannah Almassi: Loup Charmant Hydra Off-the-Shoulder Dress (£330); Helen Kaminski hat; vintage belt; Paloma Barcelo shoes.

When it comes to covering up on holiday, I always opt for jumbo, tent-like dresses that feel breezy and easy but can be simply belted so that I'm not swamped. Balance out the volume with nude shoes.

Go through the gallery below to shop some of my favourite modest summer fashion pieces.

Hannah Almassi
Editor in Chief

Hannah Almassi is the editor in chief of Who What Wear UK. Hannah has been part of the the Who What Wear brand since 2015, when she was hired to launch a UK sister site and social channels, localise content strategy and build out the editorial team. She joined following a seven-year tenure at Grazia magazine, where she led front-of-book news, fashion features and shopping specials as fashion news and features editor. With experience in both print and digital across fashion and beauty, Hannah has over 15 years in the field as a journalist, editor, content strategist and brand consultant. Hannah has interviewed industry heavyweights such as designers including Marc Jacobs and Jonathan Anderson through to arbiters of taste including Katie Grand and Anna Dello Russo. A skilled moderator and lecturer specialising in the shift to digital media and e-commerce, Hannah’s opinion and work has been sought by the likes of CNBC, BBC, The Sunday Times Style, The Times and MatchesFashion.com, among many others.

Hannah currently resides in Eastbourne with her photographer husband, incredibly busy toddler and highly Instagrammable cat.