I love everything about summer: days on the beach, evenings on patios in Brooklyn and cold glasses of rosé. The other great thing about summer is the clothing. An easy summer dress thrown on with minimal jewelry can take you to work, brunch, drinks—just about anywhere. Maybe I’m lazy, but I love not having to figure out entire outfits. I love the idea of putting on a (really pretty) sack and walking out the door.
And I don’t know about anywhere else, but in New York summer, when the temperatures are in the 90s, the humidity can be cut with a knife and you’re pouring out sweat all day (sorry, not cute, but it’s true), you don’t really want to be wearing some expensive designer dress. Ultimately what you want to be wearing is a really light towel that can sop it up while making you look good.
Unlike clothes for colder months, it’s super easy to find dirt cheap, lovely summer gear that will have old men smiling at you (my barometer for whether or not I’m dressed well is if dapper old men that wear good hats like it).
One of my favorite stores for summer shopping is Danice. They have stacks and stacks of mini dresses, maxi dresses and blouses made in India from 100 percent cotton, and go from size XS to 2X.
The true test is washing. Due to the aforementioned sweat factor (and let’s not forget the beach-sand-everywhere factor), I need things that can be washed. A lot. Like daily. Often cheap clothes unravel when even faced with the washing machine. And like, come on. If I paid $5 for you, I’m not hand-washing you. Sorry.
A certain blouse from Danice has definitely passed that difficult test. I bought it a couple of years ago when I was waiting tables at a tiny restaurant in Brooklyn. That restaurant, while lovely, did not have a working AC. At least it wasn’t working during the hottest days of July. The cotton top (on the far left in the photo), was light, breathable, cute, but not too precious. It was also $4.99.
I realized when I wore it the other day, that despite being washed about a million times—and having suffered through cooking oil and bleach—it’s still in great condition. It shows no wear and tear, the colors are still as bright as when I bought it and even though it was a “work shirt” I had older gentlemen in Brooklyn giving me the “good afternoon’s” they give you when they think you look nice.
The next piece pictured, the little dress, should be beat up by now—but it’s not.There have been stretches when I’ve possibly worn it every other day, so needless to say it is familiar with the roughness of a washing machine. Cotton like this also dries in about 5 minutes, so it can be ready to get back in action in no time. It cost a whopping $7, and they they make this style every year in different prints, so I go back to check in from time to time.
This year, I snagged the skirt on the far right for $5.99. It’s already taken me from the beach to a museum and then for drinks. It’s bright and wonderful and light as a feather, and has a waist so easy that should I wear it to my next BBQ: I can eat everything I want and just let it out a little.
Not that this is an ad for cotton or anything, but it really is the miracle plant. It’s so breathable, it takes color so well, and it washes so easily, I have a hard time wearing anything else when the temperature rises. It also dries fast which is great for times when I need to wear something RIGHT NOW, but it needs to get washed before I wear it and times when I’ve been sweating and need to dry out in front of a fan.
Danice is a store that is specific to the tri-state area, but many of those cheap-y, clubwear shops have a surprising number of cute, ladylike summer pieces that will leave you more room in your budget for a nice cold glass of something delicious, which is a way better place to spend your money!
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