How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson

How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson: How to do hot when you’re not on holiday

  • Shane Watson says that you can’t simply break out your holiday wardrobe 
  • UK-based fashion expert says you will boil in white jeans or slinky slip dress
  • She describes how there are only a couple of practical options for hot weather  

This last week I’ve had a deluge of texts along the lines of ‘What do we wear in this?’ We’d almost forgotten, hadn’t we? 

There’s no challenge quite like dressing in a heatwave. 

First of all, you can’t simply break out your holiday wardrobe. On a working day in the UK, you need to look a lot smarter than you look when you’re hitting the beach. 

Your clothes need to be comfortable, cool and fairly covered up (not only the best way to protect yourself from the sun’s rays, but the only way to approach a heatwave if you’re going to an office). 

Shane Watson recommends Nrby’s long-sleeve, linen shirt-dress with a collar, open V-neck and a reversible two-colour belt (pictured) for your holiday wardrobe 

As it happens, I always abide by this three Cs rule of dressing, whether in Rome, the Algarve, or commuting when it’s 30C. When it comes to hot summer dressing, you’re better off consulting those who really feel the heat and have thought long and hard about how to maximise their cool points (in both senses) and I’m that woman.

Plenty of people will tell you to get out your white jeans (you’ll boil) or slip on a silky dress (you’ll boil). 

For me, the stakes are too serious to take any risks. I don’t want sweat marks. I don’t want a face the colour of beetroot. I don’t want prickly heat and feet that look like a basket of eels (sorry, but that’s what we’re up against here). 

I approach heatwaves the way I approach dressing for the ski slopes: there are only a couple of practical options and, of those, I want the most flattering and weather appropriate. Fabric and fit is all, footwear is crucial — and that’s the way it goes for heatwave dressing, too. These are my (very few) basic rules:

Karlie Kloss wearing a Self Portrait white summer lace dress. UK-based fashion expert Shane says to keep away from bare shoulders and knees

Get a breezy dress 

Last week, I mainly wore a year-old, pale striped cotton tent dress from Zara. 

The shape of these dresses is perfect: long full sleeves, A line with a few tiers starting just below your bottom, and an ankle-grazing hemline. 

They waft around you and cling nowhere. You can find something similar in Zara — with a collar and button-up front in a black and white geometric print (£49.99, or elbow-length puff sleeves in a bold poppy print dress (£45.99), though a pushed-up longer sleeve is always more elegant. 

Sophie Countess of Wessex wears a maxi blue dress to visit Gibraltar. There are only a couple of practical options for summer dressing according to Shane  

The secret to keeping a tent dress flattering is neat shoulders and a V-neckline, otherwise it can get too Andy Pandy. Also, it needs to be midaxi, no shorter — never knee-high — or you’ll end up looking like you’re wearing a babydoll and the only people who look good in those are teenagers. 

If you can’t be doing with the tent look then try a loose-fit dress with a drawstring, lightly elasticated waist, or a tie belt — anything to avoid a fitted waistband, bodice or sleeves. 


  • Go for loose, breezy cuts. 
  • Keep both sleeves and hems long. 
  • Choose prints with a white base.
  • Wear chunky sandals. 

I like Zara’s V-neck, tie-belted midi dress in a sort of paisley/tile print (£59.99). 

Nrby’s long-sleeve, linen shirt-dress with a collar, open V-neck and a reversible two-colour belt (£150, looks fresh and comes in four colours. (The chambray is the one that looks the most everyday UK.) 

Say no to… 

…Bare shoulders, bare knees, slits, pretty pastel florals, embroidery and man-made fabrics — you can bring those out in the cooler evenings and Marks & Spencer’s viscose raspberry Ikat print dress (£45, is worth a look. 

I’d say no to sleeveless unless you want to try Mango’s bold, shouldered so it’s almost cap-sleeved, cropped linen jumpsuit (£69.99, in stone or black. A couple of years ago, I spent a heatwave in a short-sleeved linen jumpsuit and can vouch that they keep their cool.

Try a pull on skirt 

If you’re determined to avoid a dress then you could try Nrby’s elastic-waisted relaxed linen skirt in blue chambray (£110) with the tie cuff shirt (£99), just cropped enough to half tuck in. 

Otherwise there’s the label’s wide-leg cropped linen trousers (£99), elasticated at the back but with a clean front (therefore smarter) waistband. 

These ones are so light they are a bit see-through, but no matter; you’re wearing them with an almost knee-length pink linen shirt dress (£110). This, worn unbuttoned to the waist over any light trousers, looks elegant in an updated Katharine Hepburn way. 

Keep shoes plain 

And pass on high heels. With all of the above, and pretty much everything this summer, a chunky sandal, slide, platform or a white trainer is the answer.

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