How I shop for summer clothes

posted on: July 23, 2014

How I shop for summer clothes | from

When you grow up in Northern Norway, you just aren’t used to temperatures above 20°C – summers up there are beautiful, but not exactly tropical. Ever since I moved to Oslo, I’ve been trying to adapt to the fact that summers here really are summers. Sandals are no longer something I’m lucky to wear a few times during the season, but highly functional footwear. Some days are so warm I just can’t wear anything with sleeves. Considering fabrics isn’t merely something I want to do, but something I need to do to feel comfortable.

Still, each year I tend to forget that just like I need to have clothes for freezing winter days, I also need something for those sweltering summers. This year it hit that drastic point where I realized I didn’t own a single T-shirt that was appropriate to wear outside the house, so I had to hunt down something pretty quickly. As always, I had some criteria in mind.

Budget-wise I didn’t have much to go on, so it had to be rather affordable. I was in particular need of tops, as most my skirts can be worn year-round. I also needed a couple of sleeveless dresses for super-hot days. I tend to sweat a lot, so I wanted natural fibres, and preferably in black or white, or with some sort of pattern.

I would have preferred to buy second hand or vintage, but light tops have always been the one thing I have trouble finding in vintage shops. Many of them just look washed-out and stained, or the shape is off somehow. I therefore ended up on the high street, leafing through rows of polyester/plastic to find something right.

What I ended up with was this.

The green dress

Curvy, plus size summer outfit | from

95% cotton, 5% elastane, 99,- NOK at H&M. Green isn’t normally my colour, but this print was so summery I was immediately drawn to it. The straps were way too long (hello, short torso), so I’ve tied them in silly little knots until I can be bothered to shorten them properly. I think we can say with certainty that this was a good buy, because I’ve pretty much lived in this since I got it.

The zebra top

Curvy, plus size summer outfit | from

100% cotton, on sale at Lindex for 75,- NOK. Not my usual style, really, but I don’t have many tops with prints and liked the zebra pattern. Not to mention that it’s delightfully cool and airy, and works with all my skirts and trousers.

Printed skirt & black T-shirt

Curvy, plus size summer outfit | from

The skirt was an impulse purchase, but I literally couldn’t manage to let go once I’d found that fantastic print. 99% cotton and 1% elastane, 499,- NOK at H&M. I especially like how the fabric is rather stiff, so it keeps its vintage-like volume even though it’s made of rectangles, not a circle. This also means I don’t have to wear a slip underneath to keep it from clinging to my legs, which is particularly good in summer. I always wear biker shorts underneath dresses and skirts because I have thighs that rub together, and biker shorts + a slip dress + skirt = not particularly airy combination.

The top is 100% lyocell, and cost 149,- at Lindex. Lyocell is a relative new fibre on the market. It’s made of cellulose pulp, like viscose and modal, so even though it’s made in a synthetic way (not like cotton and wool, for instance), the basis is still a natural material, not plastic. This top feels like a mix between the coolness of linen and the softness of viscose. Win!

The white, basic T-shirt

Curvy, plus size summer outfit | from

Yeah, I actually didn’t have a white basic tee in my closet, which was particularly odd as I love white in the summer. The sleeves on this one have just the right length, and the neckline is a slightly deep V.  95% cotton, 5% elastane, 99,- NOK on sale at Lindex.

The summery LBD

Curvy, plus size summer outfit | from

Almost half and half cotton and polyester, with a little elastane for stretch. The shape is very basic, but the texture gives it interest, I think. It works well both with black leather sandals and nice jewelry, but also with my black and white sneakers and more sporty accessories. Just as versatile as an LBD should be.

The almost-bra

Curvy, plus size summer outfit | from

I mentioned this briefly in that relaxed outfit post, because I was so happy I’d finally found an extremely comfortable, chafing-free alternative to a regular bra. 95% cotton and 5% elastane, 79,- at Cubus (I can’t find it on their website, but it’s called “U Sophia Top”). It doesn’t really give enough support for me to wear it going out somewhere, but it’s perfect for just staying at home.

Hopefully these will fill that summery hole in my wardrobe – I’ve already worn many of them several times, so I must have got something right!

  • Molly

    Everything looks fantastic on you, Maria! Great summer wardrobe additions. I just worked on filling in the holes in mine too– it’s like a puzzle to be solved, so fun. I love your blog and always get so excited when you have a new post up. Take care!

  • Kristina

    Your H&M has such lovely offerings (I really like the green leafy dress!) Mine just seems to be a polyester minefield.

    • berit

      Kristina, I feel your pain!

    • Maria

      Oh, there is a forest of polyester in my H&Ms as well, though the selection has definitely improved since I moved to Oslo. There are so many different H&Ms scattered through the city, and they can be quite different in which garments they sell :)

  • Hanne

    Oh, I actually thought about getting the green dress myself! I never did for some reason, too bad I’m broke or else I would have picked it up already since it was lovely on.

    I had the same issue with the straps on that dress when I tried it on, in general with all sleeveless things. The straps are waaaaay too long on everything and I end up showing off much more of my underwear and mega boobs than what I’m comfortable with.

    • Maria

      Aah, we could have been dress sisters! Oh, well, it’s getting too cold for that dress now anyway ;) Too short straps can be very annoying – though I’m glad I don’t struggle with straps being too _short_, because I wouldn’t be able to fix that myself as easily.

  • Maja H

    These are such great finds, and I LOVE that green printed dress! I’ve had the same problem as you this summer – Kristina, polyester minefield is the best expression I’ve heard all week, because it perfectly describes what I’ve been wading through on the hunt for a passable dress or skirt. Unlike Maria I have plenty of tops in cotton and linen, but ever since I purged some well-loved and worn out skirts earlier this year I had no work-appropriate and heat-appropriate bottoms. It is way too hot for jeans and I can’t wear shorts to work, so skirts and dresses it is. I ended up buying two skirts at H&M Divided (where I hardly ever find anything normally, as I find it very “junior”) that granted were probably a bit too short for the office, but that’s only because of my ridiculous legs, so I just went with it. They’ve served me wonderfully over the last few days. I also found a dress that will serve well as a beach cover-up on my holiday in August, and I have ordered two skirts that, while synthetic, were too gorgeous to pass up. I won’t wear them in the scorching mid-day sun in Greece, but they will work perfectly in cooler evenings and on a normal Norwegian summer day.

    • Kristina

      I love the fake-out where you spot something across the store in a lovely cut or color (this is me and H&M dresses) only to recoil in horror when you realize it’s two layers of the itchy and rough “chiffon” poly that fast fashion giants are fond of pumping out around this time of year. Bonus points if it’s mint or pale pink–not that I have problems with any of those lovely colors, but it just seems to have been the thing for the past few years :)

      • Maria

        This is such a perfect description of shopping at H&M that I want to print it out and then embroider it on a cushion.

    • Maria

      Everybody loves the green dress, yay! And it’s so bizarre that, though it’s hard with tops as well, finding a skirt in a natural fiber is pretty much impossible. What, my thighs don’t deserve to breathe as well?

  • Tania

    I love the zebra top and black dress best! Gorgeous. I really struggle with creating a summer wardrobe so appreciate some insight into your process.

    • Maria

      Thank you, Tania! I always think it’s interesting to hear about other people’s shopping strategies, so I’m glad you readers like it as well :)

  • Maja H

    Also, the zebra looks sort of like breton stripes, so I think they work perfectly with your style!

    • Maria

      Yes, though I’ve always been more of a leopard girl (well, you know), I think zebra can be quite cool! I think it’s just the combination of elements (linen-like fabric, almost-cap sleeves, loose fit, and the print) that feels a bit foreign to me :)

  • Charnelle

    Everything you picked up is lovely! Especially loving that black dress and patterned skirt.

  • Kris

    Hi Maria, I really like all the pieces you showcased on the blog and you look fantastic in all of them! If I may ask, where is your little black dress from?

  • Amelia

    My goodness, your H&M offers are amazing. I wish we could that selection as well.

    You look uber cute in the green dress

    • Maria

      Thank you, Amelia :) The variation of what’s available in different H&Ms is pretty flabbergasting. The H&M in my home town is pretty sad, stocking mostly basics and dark colours, whereas here in Oslo I’ve come across some wonderful things!

  • Emma (This Kind Choice)

    Girl, your hair! It looks amazing and is almost exactly what I want (slightly different fringe). There is hope at the end of the awkward growing tunnel.
    I especially love the LBD and the skirt. The stiffness of the skirt definitely makes it!

    • Maria

      *laughs* Thank you, kitten! It looked a bit longer in the pictures because I tilted my head slightly back in most of them, but it’s now gotten so long it reaches below my earlobes no matter how I hold my head. I love it :D And yes, there is hope, hang in there!

  • jegra

    Love those outfits, especially the zebra top.

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