How to dress in a heatwave and stay cool

heatwave dressing
There should be something heatwave-ready within this selection to suit every shape, budget and taste

Inflate the paddling pool, slather on the sunscreen, the UK is in the midst of its first heatwave of the year – finally. With it, however, comes an abrupt wardrobe switchover from spring’s light jackets and ankle-baring trousers to high summer’s breathable linens, sandals and sun hats.

When the hot weather hits our shores, the hero pieces of our wardrobe (if you’re not lucky enough to be able to lie in the garden in your swimwear) are unquestionably dresses for women and cool tops and shorts for men.

Which is great if you still possess a good stock from summers past, but not so much if you find yourself suddenly in need of something new.

So to get you started on finding those functional yet stylish essentials, we’ve done the hard work for you and located some standout choices for when the temperature soars. Fifteen great options for women and fifteen super choices for men to help you navigate the hot spell (and any more that will grace us with their presence this summer) in style.

There should be something heatwave-ready within this selection to suit every shape, budget and taste. Happy shopping!

Heatwave-busting dresses

Finding the ultimate sundress is not an easy task. Trawl the high street and there are far too many with awkward cutouts, or necklines with which you can’t wear a bra, or straps that are more complicated than a Crystal Maze challenge, or synthetic fabrics that seem to invite sweat rather than relieve it.

A hardworking summer dress should be easy to throw on, comfortable to wear, and made from breathable natural materials such as cotton or silk. It should also be relatively timeless so that you can still wear it in years to come and, most of all, it should make you look like the best version of yourself.

Cool tops and shorts for men

In the quest for high summer essentials, the struggle can be equally challenging for men – if not more so. Although an increasing number of brands are coming up with lightweight and moisture-wicking fabrics that are designed for everyday wear in extreme heat.

Fit is crucial for men: you want shorts which are loose, but not surfer-boy-baggy, and neither too short (unless you’re Paul Mescal) nor too long. When it comes to summer T-shirts, a boxy cut tends to be the most flattering, but fabrics shouldn’t be so lightweight that they’re flimsy. And please, please, steer clear of any novelty logos – those are best left in the childrenswear department.

Of course, you might feel too dressed down in a T-shirt. That’s where casual shirting – in linen or soft cotton – can be a winner. Short sleeves and camp collars are great for off-duty occasions (that versatile boxy fit coming into play again), but pick your prints wisely. There’s the finest of lines between tasteful and gaudy. Scroll down and swipe for what’s (not so) hot right now.