I’ve focused on tips for fat girls, but some of the below should be useful whatever your size or gender:
When I moved to Brighton and the seaside I rediscovered how joyous just being outside in the sunshine can be. But I had no idea how to dress for the heat and spent a lot of time sticky and uncomfortable.
Here then, is my hard-earned knowledge, so you can spend less time sweating and more time enjoying being outside.
How to wear skirts (and not destroy your inner thighs)
Let's talk about this first, because it's the one that drove me mad for years. I love skirts and dresses - I haven't owned more than one pair of trousers for years. In that time I would happily spend all autumn, winter and spring in skirts and tights, feeling comfortable and glamorous. And then it would get hot.
Magazines seem to make a big deal of 'baring your legs' for summer. There are apparently countless rituals involving razors, wax, exfoliators and fake tan to which one must submit before daring to bare your legs in public. To which I say: fuck that. I'm writing this while wearing a knee-length skirt, and my legs are as pasty and hairy as they were at Christmas. Want to wax and fake tan? Great! But you're not going to get any useful tips here. I am all about the comfort; there are other women on Squeamish Bikini who can guide you through traditional elegance.
So, comfort. Ever since I can remember, my inner thighs have rubbed together when I walk. It's where I carry a lot of my weight. Which is fine, except... walking, bare-legged, in the heat. If your thighs swing past each other with a few centimetres of clear space in between, then taking your tights off in summer is not a big deal, comfort-wise. But for those of us whose thighs like to get to know each other really well, summer can be a hellish agony of sweat, rubbing, blisters and pain. It is Not Good. And I have never read a single article that even acknowledges this problem exists, let alone how to deal with it. So what are the ways around it?
You can wear shorts and trousers of course , but if that’s not your style and you want to wear a dress without having to walk along the street sideways while you grit your teeth then good news! It is possible.
There are the old classics of course: puffing a bit of talc between your legs, although that could prompt your friends and co-workers into hushed discussions about their suspicions you might have a (kind of wasteful) coke habit. Or roll-on deodorant, not great if you're the get up and go type and don't have the patience to sit around, legs splayed, as you wait for it to dry. Then there’s Body Glide, which I admit I had never heard of until a friend alerted me. Perhaps because it appears to be aimed at athletes, a group into which I certainly don’t fall.
But talc rubs off, deodorant is pesky and Bodyglide is, well, Bodyglide. The biggest lesson I learned this summer vis a vis inner thigh comfort is this: TIGHTS. Yes I know that sounds like some sort of special hell in summer, but stick with me.
Dig out an old pair. The ones you took off in the toilets one day when you realised it was over 25 degrees and that have lived in your bag ever since. Or, if you’re better at reading weather reports than I am, those tights you laddered on FIRST WEAR and are no good now but dammit they cost £3 and you’re not going to just chuck them.
I don't want to hang out at the beach (or anywhere else) in a bikini, because it feels like sitting in public in my underwear. And while I keep being told that flattering one-piece suits exist, I haven't found any that work for me.
The solution, as far as I'm concerned, is a combination of tankinis and board shorts. I like having my belly and thighs covered (apart from anything else, that's a lot less skin to have to put sun cream on), and that gives me the confidence to go swimming, mess about and generally enjoy myself rather than panicking about the fact I don't have the stereotypical beach body.
I've seen women rocking many variants of beachwear, and I think that's the key. Find what works for you so you can have fun.
I bought my beloved board shorts in the men’s section of TK Maxx, but there are plenty of beachwear shops that stock both women's and men's boardshorts.
It took half a lifetime of burning and peeling, but I now carry a bottle of sun cream in my bag from April through to September. It's ridiculously easy to burn by accident if it's windy, or you're swimming, or a bit drunk, and I say that as someone with a lot of experience. I've seen people who claim they 'don't burn' find out what they actually meant was 'I've never been out long enough to burn before' many times. Just wear the cream!
It doesn’t have to be pricey. Boots’ own sun care range Soltan has the highest UVA rating on the market, (the UVA rays are the ones that contribute to wrinkles ), and you can buy high factor face creams that come in a handbag friendly small tube.
I was never a big fan of sun hats until I spent a summer in the States when I suddenly understood the appeal of your own portable shade – invaluable for long days out. Invest for holidays, even if you never bother with it at home.
Straw hats provide the best shade, and while they don’t squash up into luggage as easily as cloth hats, if you fill the crown with clothes and pack around them they’ll hold their shape well even long-haul.
Preparation is everything and now is a great time to stock up on sun wear as the shops clear out summer gear to make space for winter woolies.
Or you can shop online, especially as most summer hats are made to be cool and roomy so are a rare example of ‘one size fits all’ actually applying. I’m in love with the leopard print and bright blue hats featured here on Asos, proof that you can find some shade to match any outfit.
So those are my top tips for surviving, and enjoying, the heat. How about you? What do you make sure you always have with you as the temperatures start to climb? Or do you spend the hot days inside waiting for the relief of autumn?