Beat the Heat Wave in These Breezy Wardrobe Essentials

cooling clothing

Graphic by KCM

High temps are no match for these breathable clothing items.

Stepping out with confidence in a cute outfit is one of our favorite feelings…unless it’s summer. Between June and September, looking and feeling great is more complicated. Often, we step out feeling fabulous only to be met with a wave of sticky heat. And once that first droplet of sweat drips down our spines and semi-soaks a brand new shirt, we turn right back around into the comfort of the AC. 

And we’re guessing we’re not the only ones who face this endlessly frustrating roller coaster of emotions when it comes to dressing for the hot weather. Temperatures are rising around the world, and so many of us are facing heat waves right now, making it important to find ways to keep ourselves cool when we have to leave the sweet security of air conditioning to head out into the world. 

One of the ways to ensure you keep your body from overheating in excruciatingly hot weather is to wear clothing made from breathable fabrics. More often than not, fabrics that allow air to flow freely through them are made of natural materials like cotton, silk, or linen. They tend to wick heat away from your body rather than holding it in like some synthetic fibers, helping your sweat evaporate and keeping you cool in the process (and decreasing the likelihood of pit stains and sweat marks).
From sexy silk pajamas that will keep you from sweating through your sheets to crisp linen dresses you can wear out to dinner or to a summer wedding, there are plenty of clothing options that will keep you feeling and looking cool during the extreme heat. If you’re looking to refresh your wardrobe with heat-wicking pieces that don’t look like activewear, shop some of our favorites.

The Best Cooling Clothing Items

Magic Linen Royal Toscana Dress

Magic Linen

If anyone knows how to keep cool [under pressure] it’s Meghan Markle, so we suggest stealing her looks if you’re trying to do the same. With a high-low hem and swingy silhouette, this linen number is a must for those days you can’t be bothered to wear pants. Markle donned this dress on a day out and about in Beverly Hills a while back, pairing it with a sun hat. You could say that this dress obviously lives up to its royal name.

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Jenni Kayne Cotton Slim Tee

Jenni Kayne

You can’t go wrong with a plain white T-shirt, no matter what the weather is. But if it’s going to be a summer staple, it has to be high-quality or it won’t hold up against sweat and you’ll have to peel its uncomfortable fibers off your sticky body in the heat. This one from Jenni Kayne will last you summers to come. And it’s not your average plain white tee, it’s slightly fitted and will show off your curves. The classic style will go with just about anything you already have in your closet. 

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Free Fly Lightweight Bamboo Long Sleeve

Free Fly

Wearing long sleeves in the heat may sound counterproductive, but when the top is made with a super lightweight fabric like bamboo, it can actually keep you cool. Bamboo fabric, also called viscose, is super breathable and helps draw heat away from your body. Plus, long sleeves will protect your skin from harmful UV rays, which is how KCM editor Molly Simms plays it safe in the summer.

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Madewell Lightspun Balloon Pants


Chafing is quite possibly one of the worst parts of summer, which is why team KCM editor Katie P. prefers wearing pants instead of shorts. Opting for pants made from a gauzy, breathable material like these your thighs won’t painfully rub together while you walk, but they also won’t leave you feeling sticky and sweaty like jeans or trousers would. 

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32 Degrees Flyweight Woven Skort

32 Degrees

If we haven’t made it obvious enough yet, we at KCM, Katie included, have signed onto the tennis-inspired fashion trend. Flirty skirts that you can wear on and off the court are comfy and cute, but they also allow for some airflow through your bottom half on sweltering hot days. This skirt has a pair of built-in shorts underneath to prevent wardrobe malfunctions and chafing, and it has pockets on the side to hold your phone. The best part? It’s on sale for under $15 right now.

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Coolibar Santorini Tunic Shirt


Cover-ups tend to be made from lightweight material since you’re wearing them to the beach or pool, but this one is fashionable enough to wear on a daily basis. And no one will know it’s meant for the beach. It looks like a regular collared shirt, but it’s made from feather-light fabric that has built-in UV protection to keep you from getting sunburned. Throw it on over a pair of linen pants or light, loose jeans and you’ll instantly nail the coastal grandma aesthetic.

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Parade Scoop Bralette


Keeping cool really starts with the pieces of clothing you wear closest to your body, like your bra and underwear. We’ve all experienced boob sweat, so instead of opting for a padded bra that you’ll have to wring out at the end of the day, consider a lightweight bralette like this one that will keep you and your bosom cool all day long.

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Cozy Earth Ultra-Soft Square Neck Tank

Cozy Earth

When it’s too hot for any kind of sleeve, a tank top is a saving grace. This one is made from moisture-wicking bamboo fabric that won’t show sweat stains, and the straps are actually wide enough to hide your bra underneath — because the last thing anyone wants to wear on a particularly sweaty day is a strapless bra.

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Lunya Washable Silk Tank Set


Not all of us like to sleep in the nude, although that’s one way to keep cool beneath the sheets. If you prefer pajamas, opting for a silk set like this one from Lunya can help keep you from waking up drenched in sweat in the middle of the night. Not only is silk super breathable, but it’s sexy, too. We’d honestly wear this top on its own for date night. 

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lululemon Fast and Free Running Hat


Keeping your hair off your face is a must when it’s hot out, and sometimes adding a bit of shade helps, too. Opting for a hat on hot sunny days won’t only protect your face and hide a bad hair day, but it’ll actually keep your scalp from burning too. This one is made from airy fabric, so it won’t get bogged down with sweat while you wear it. 

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Wacoal Keep Your Cool Thigh Shaping Short


Squeezing into shapewear is probably the last thing you want to think about when you’re sweating up a storm, but what if a base layer could actually help keep you cool? These shorts are made from a buttery soft fabric that wicks sweat away from your bottom half, ensuring you don’t get that dreaded swampy feeling down there.

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J. Crew Button Back Shift Dress

J. Crew

A simple and sweet shift dress will never go out of style. Not only is it a one-and-done outfit, but because this one is made from linen, it’s easy and breezy to wear. We love the button detailing on the back, which keeps the piece from feeling too plain.

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