The lazy gal’s guide to summer dressing

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Summer should be easy.

Here in Oregon, our summers are gloriously beautiful but far too brief, and followed by a whole lot of grey skies. As a result, most of us spend as much time outdoors as possible. When it’s warm and sunny, I’d rather be running, biking, hiking, gardening, grilling, or camping than thinking about what to wear. Oh, and drinking a cold beer. It is Oregon, after all. You gotta have beer.

Being from southern California, land of perpetual sunshine, I’ve learned that there’s basically one trick to surviving summer without looking like a hot mess (literally and figuratively). You just have to figure out your uniform.

The biggest challenge is remaining comfortable while still feeling cute. I’ve basically come up with a few outfit combos that work for me, like a vintage sundress and clogs, and can throw them on without a lot of brain power.

This is the newest addition to the summer outfit arsenal: a basic black leotard and a full skirt.

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I’m completely in love with leotards right now, and even got Kristen to buy one.

My main impediment to wearing more skirts is that I hate dealing with tucking in blouses, and the poofiness that can sometimes result. With a high waist and large bust, I really do not need poofiness up top. The leotard has solved that problem and is so comfortable too.

Now, the skirt! Since I’ve rarely worn skirts up until now, I wanted to make a new one for summer. I chose this buttery light linen and I’m really digging it, wrinkles and all. The skirt is a semi-circle with a simple waistband. I found these gold buttons in my stash and decided to add some waistband tabs. Kristen actually designed these tabs for another pattern, but they were rejected in favor of another cool detail. But I love them so much, I decided to reuse the idea.

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This whole skirt only took me a couple hours to sew. I’m officially a skirt convert.

PS: After this, I’ll be posting a tutorial on sewing a curved hem by machine, which is what I did on this skirt. I have a few tips and tricks I use that might help you out.

ETA: Several people asked about the leotard in the comments. It’s Capezio brand and I bought it here on Amazon. I needed the size large (I’m a US 8). It has a built in shelf bra, so I stuck some foam cups in (the sew-in kind you can find at fabric stores). Works great!

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

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Comments 41

Helen patientgardener.wordpress.com

Linen gets creased so easily so I hang my linen clothes in the shower room or bathroom and the steam when I have a shower quickly drops out the creases.

Reader

I’m ambivalent about wrinkles, too. Underlining linen might control the wrinkles some, but it will change the hand a bit. I’m going to sew a linen dress and use a light cotton for the underlining.

Casey elegantmusings.com

I’ve often thought a leotard would be a great alternative to tucking a tank top in! Love the skirt too–I have a semi-circle skirt on my sewing wishlist for this summer too. :)

francesca

Nice look. Our summers are way too long and hot… even linen trousers feel like too much at the high points – so anything that creates um extra panties is a nono here. I used to love the 80s “bodies” – shirt styles, blouse styles, leotard styles – for the no tuck/no escape look…… Now, if I don’t wear a dress, I like shortish 40s style tops like Sencha – the tucks give nice shape, s long as the top is just a few inches below the waist. Doesn’t work with all skirt styles though.

Reader

What brand of leotard do you prefer?

Sarai colettepatterns.com

This one is Capezio, and it’s the v-neck version (link to amazon). It’s cotton with lycra, but not all of their leotards are. Some are shiny (nylon, I think). I haven’t tried other brands yet!

Annette Siverson

Try out a Danskin leotard too. Capezio makes some very nice ones, as you’ve found out, and so does Danskin. You look great and nice and cool too!

Krista

I love linen skirts for summer. Your skirt looks lovely! I really like the tabs on the waistband; it’s cool that a simple detail can add such polish to a garment.

Emily 15strawberrylane.com

Yes! My friends all laughed at me last summer for purchasing bodysuits with the snaps at the crotch, to tuck in to skirts, as if we were back in middle school. But they stay in place perfectly and offer some comfortable control top benefits. Love this! The back of your leotard is beautiful.

Becky

I love this look. I have the same issue. I’m short and busty. There is very little space between my waist and bust. I love wearing leotards, but I have a hard time figuring out what type of bra or other support to wear with them.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

This one has a built in shelf bra. It still smashed me a little bit, so I put some cup inserts in, the kind you can buy to sew into swimsuits and the like. It worked really well and offered just enough support!

Jen mommymadebyjen.blogspot.com

Where did you find the cup inserts for this? I never can find ones that are the right size when I’m at the store – they only seem to go up to a D cup, which never seems to cover enough, doesn’t have enough support and makes me feel like I’m wearing pasties.

You can get a similar look to this if you use the Panache camisoles with the built-in underwire bra and that’s what I would probably end up doing. They stay tucked in pretty well.

Sanna

I really love wearing leotards or bodies when instead of tucking in a bulkier top. The back of yours is gorgeous – I’d love to know where you got it!

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Ok, I added a link into the post!

Mugsy

No matter the wrinkles, my love affair with linen will never end! :) It drives both of my parents nuts, they just can’t get into a fabric that shows wrinkles so easily. I keep telling them “But that’s just what linen does, it’s an unwritten law of fabric”

The skirt looks amazing…starting to think circle skirts myself, even if I do have kinda skinny legs (you know, those two threads hanging out of the bottom of my skirt *winks*) Also, I wonder if adding those cups inder tank tops or leotards would be kosher for us not-so-well endowed types…? The last thing I want is either huge boobs or cups that dent easily (and THAT’S totally embarassing, especially when a stranger is kind enough to point it out! *LOL*)

Alice

Lovely linen skirt! I, too, love linen, wrinkles and all. I want to stress the advice in the hemming instructions to press, up and down, not slide the iron. Makes all the difference in frustration value.
I have a beautiful pale periwinkle linen dress that is a bit too tight now. Perhaps I will make it into a skirt!!!

Barbara Stone barbarastonedesigns.com

Love the waist detail!

Tasha blog.bygumbygolly.com

Very cute! I love the waistband tabs, too. I love skirts but agree about the blouse thing, as a fellow gal with plenty up top. I fully admit that when I get dressed/leave the bathroom/etc, I pull the hem of my skirt up to my waist like a 5 year old and yank my blouse down. ;)

Jeanine

Okay, I love the look and love leotards, but I have an embarrassing question that I’ve always wondered. What do you do when you have to go to the bathroom? I hate having to take everything off to get a leotard down, or does that one have snaps down there? Sorry to be so blunt, but I wonder if I’m missing something or if you just have more patience than me! Thanks for the hemming advice too. BIG time-saver!

Ponytail

OK, can I add my embarrassing question then ? Doesn’t a leotard make your undercarriage all, well, sweaty ? Leotards are made of non-organic material and are usually quite tight. I would feel very uncomfortable wearing a leotard all day.
Sorry to bring down the tone of the comment thread but I was just curious if leotards have changed since I had dance classes.

Sarai colettepatterns.com

This one is cotton (with some lycra content for stretch). It’s quite comfortable and breathable.

Emily replicatethendeviate.blogspot.com

I live in skirts in the summer! :) Love yours!

Jenny jennysews2.blogspot.com

Love this outfit! It looks so comfy – Sarai, I used to live in leotards long time ago (used to dance and then used to wear them with jeans and Timberlands in the 90’s lol). I totally forgot about them until you posted this. I think I’m going back to wearing them. I can throw on a little jacket while I’m at work.

Lydia

A very elegent and breezy summer look — lovely tabs on the skirt too! I used to wear lots of linen tops, and had a pair of shorts, but they drove my husband crazy (i think it was the creasing…) I eventually phased out linen for his sake (we are both good natured about it, and he wears brighter colours for my sake!)

I wanted to second the comment on the Panache strappy tops with built in underwire bras inside — they are not leotards, but have lots of support from a UK D cup to a J cup or more, and have thin straps. They are available at Bravissimo

Xenia Kathryn xeniat.blogspot.com

Love the skirt, and you really rock the leotard! After 4 kids, I’m pretty sure leotards are out of my league (perpetual pooched tummy), but gee– what a cute and breezy outfit! I must admit, I’m surprising myself with how much I like these returning 90s trends (flashback to my youth… already?! :D).

Sarai colettepatterns.com

I know, tell me about it! I can’t believe stuff that was popular in high school has circled round already!

Sanna

Thanks, Sarai!

Zarah gladysandviv.blogspot.com

Love the waist tabs! I wish I could bring myself to try the leotards, because I really like the idea, but at a previous job (that had nothing whatsoever to do with dance) I was required to wear one every day to eliminate any possibility of skin ever showing, so I think that’s put me off them.

Hoping it’ll start looking like summer in Portland again soon…

Teresa

I wear skirts full-time. I’d like to say it is a religious conviction, but it isn’t. Skirts are just more comfy! I found that I prefer a longer length, nearly to my ankles. It gets me sideways looks at the mall (it seems that shoplifters like to wear long skirts so they can carry stuff out strapped to their legs! ACK!), but I can cross my knees without scaring small children and old men! LOL

In the winter snows, I just need a pair of wool knee socks, and I’m good to go!

Your skirt looks wonderful! I’d like to see a picture of the back of your waistband, too.

Melanie queenoftheflies.blogspot.com

Capezia leotards! Talk about a blast from the past. Gosh, 30 years post ballet class can one really go braless? Yet, it’s a very appealing idea.

Sara

That is my favorite leo. I love all the colors :) The best bargain as well. Mirella leos also have a very supportive bust but run around $30. Discountdancewear.com has a great selection if you are looking for more. You look adorable!

Sara

Ooops! I meant discountdance.com!

crystalpleats crystalpleats.wordpress.com

I think you’ve got it right talking about having a few uniforms handy for summer dressing. This looks fashionable and comfortable.

Brianna

What pattern can I use to make a skirt like that? I always measure wrong or get the curve wrong when attempting circle skirts. Or do you know of a good tutorial?

tracy

LOVE the linen, love skirts- chic and fabulous summer throw-on!

Kerri

Simple and so elegant! And I’m crazy about your shoes…details? Bravo, Sarai–

Sarai colettepatterns.com

They’re one of my (several) pairs of trusty Sven clogs!

gulsah

Hello serai,
What kind of circle skirt is it? 3/4 1/2?

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