• Substance Moms

Dressing Deliberately for Summer

I’m a sweater. As in, my internal body temperature runs hot (which really means that a fine bead of sweat is almost always running along my upper lip -- super comfortable and most definitely stylish, right??!) Then add in a healthy dose of motherhood at a summer park date with a blazing sun and a toddler who is a shockingly determined flight risk, and I’m done!


Personal temperature features aside though, the question remains … Is there a way to dress for summer that allows us as women to sartorially express ourselves while acknowledging the requirements of active mothering? (Because let's be honest, sometimes I want something more than my go-to yoga pants, sports bra, and sweat-wicking tank for my "epic" daily journeys.)


So here is a crack at my top "mom outfits" for the crazy days of summer.

The "Third Layer": Where cut-offs meet kimonos



I call this outfit The Third Layer. This look includes three pieces: basic cotton tank, denim shorts and a third bonus piece that makes the statement. The best part is that it can be re-imagined in so many iterations once you have your base figured out.


I like to start with my favorite pair of cutoff denim shorts – boyfriend cut, obviously. One of the keys to success in the heat is breathability. And if I were to try to squeeze into the body-con low rise shorts from days of old, I would be sweating in more places than my face and unable to bend over with discretion.


From there, I throw on a classic tank top in white or gray, making sure the straps are either thick enough to conceal my bra straps or that I’m wearing a bright bra that deliberately peeks out for added depth to the outfit.


Then comes the best part, The Third Layer. For me, this usually means a kimono! This final layer is the statement piece of your outfit. Depending on the day, your mood, and what resides in your closet, you can wear anything from bright and bold patterns, to a striped linen, or even a solid crochet. Just find an outer layer that is flowing, breathable, and makes YOU feel good!


SIDE NOTE: One of the perks of this look is the versatility of that third kimono-inspired piece. Over the years, I have used it as a nursing cover, a picnic blanket, and a rain cover!

The "On-Trend": Rompers are for romping



I remember the first time I wore a romper after the age of seven. Even though it was pre-kids and during a time in my life when intense exercising for multiple hours per day was the norm, I remember stepping into it and scrutinizing myself for ages, wondering if it was flattering or just a pipe dream. It felt strange and foreign, yet so edgy.


Fast forward twenty years and not only do I own what could be considered a quorum of rompers, but everyone from Old Navy to Kate Spade seems to be selling them.


For a park date look, I tend to go for a rayon or cotton-based fabric that (again) allows for airflow and is also machine washable for the inevitable grass stains. In fact, I absolutely love this outfit with my favorite high tops for a nearly effortless, yet fashionable look.


It is easy and comfortable, while also looking deliberate. It’s a way to say that even in the midst of wiping noses, making picnic lunches and encouraging good behavior in little people, we have carved out a bit of space to care for ourselves!


The "Active Cool Girl": Biker shorts never looked so good



Maybe it was my years growing up in the 80s, or a decade playing competitive volleyball, but I simply can’t get away from spandex. Currently compression bike shorts are having (another) moment and I couldn’t be happier! Mainly because they are so versatile.


Does anyone else love layering them beneath a maxi skirt or dress for added smoothness, a barrier to accidental transparency and a quick fix for any inner thigh rubbing? Or is that just me? Anyways…bike shorts. They are my current summer favorite for the numerous ways to outfit them outside of the gym.


The key to this look is to play with silhouettes within the overall outfit. In other words, with your shorts being a snug profile, be sure to wear something oversized on your top.


I also balance out the focus of the composite look with varied color and patterns either in the shorts or the top - never both. In other words, with black shorts, try wearing a graphic tee knotted at the waist, or a neon sports bra with a loose solid color tank top.


As an aside, if you find yourself feeling insecure about your lower half (I hear you), try this outfit with a kimono or lightweight sleeveless sweater. Or even tie a chambray shirt around your waist. Remember "The Third Layer" outfit, as this can be another version of that look.


Overall, whether you consider yourself “into fashion” or not, I truly believe we all feel a little better when we’ve put some effort into how we present ourselves to the world.


So the bottom line to all of this loquaciousness regarding summer outfitting is that it all comes down to YOU. What encourages you? What gives you confidence? What makes you feel a spark of joy?


So tell me. What’s your favorite summer outfit? Need more tips and tricks? Hit me up! I love working with moms on this incredible journey of life with kids!



Annie and her husband live in Minneapolis with their two kids and elderly cat. After an extensive tenure working in the fashion industry, Annie opened her own wardrobe and interior styling company, Hudson & Wilde. Annie is passionate about creating community and connections with people, and she also loves to read, write, drink coffee, exercise, and travel. Connect with her on Instagram @aevelsizer and @hudsonandwilde!

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