How to stay cool and stylish in the heat

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

As the dog days of summer blanket the area with heat and humidity, choosing clothing that provides breathability, sun protection and comfort  puts the fun back in our summertime activities. The keys to comfort and safety in extreme temperatures include understanding how to dress in the hot weather and knowing what heat friendly materials to wear.

Breathable fabrics allow air to circulate through clothing, whereas artificial fabrics trap heat and sweat, causing overheating.  Finer threads, looser weaves and more porous materials all induce air circulation and feel light on the skin.  A winning textile formula combines a good fabric and a good weave. The best way to determine the lightness and breathability of a weave is to hold it up to the light and examine its transparency. The more light that passes through the fabric, the more breathable it is.

Color selection and fit also play a critical role in summertime dressing. Braving the heat in black and other dark colors invites perspiration, whereas wearing light hues reflect the sun and keep you much cooler. Clothing should always contour the body rather than bind it.  Avoid tight fitting garments, especially snug pants, tightly cinched waist bands and thick foundation garments.

The top hot weather fabric options  include linen, cotton, silk, and certain synthetics.  Linen deserves its reputation as the most light-weight and breathable fabric.  Some shy away from this hot weather staple because it wrinkles easily.  Cotton comes in a variety of summer weaves including poplin, seersucker, madras and gauze.  Poplin has tiny dimples and air pockets making it breathable and faster drying than a flat weave. The popularity of seersucker suits in the South is proof of its lightness.  Madras is a loose weave, best known for its distinctive plaid pattern. British soldiers wore gauze, another loose weave, in the tropics.

Silk combines elegance and lightness in one fabric, and it feels smooth and cool on the skin.  On the other hand, silk is pricier than cotton and requires more care. Because certain synthetic fibers do an excellent job of wicking away moisture and circulating air, they are ideal for active wear and sportswear apparel. Since not all synthetics and synthetic blends have the same beneficial properties, always test a garment for comfort and coolness before heading out in the elements.

Effective hot weather management also requires adequate sun protection. In addition to sunscreen, smart clothing options, such as long sleeve shirts, long skirts, pants and dresses, shield individuals from harmful rays. Simple accessories, like sunglasses and hats provide critical cooling protection to the face and eyes.

One can enjoy both style and comfort this summer in these hot weather fashion picks for men and women, available at Greenville retailers:

  1. Southern Tide Awenda stretch cotton tailored shirt in seaside colors for $99.50  Available at Rush Wilson Ltd.
  2. Santiki artful batik maxi dress at Mast General Store for $49.99
  3. LinQ brand soft, comfortable tops worn by Eva Longoria and Jessica Alba at SavVy.


Ideal top for a hot summer day










LinQ designs available at SavVy in Greenville, SC















Style for a song

Monday, July 16th, 2012

The bargain shopping gene pulses through my blood, and I have spent years cultivating this innate ability of finding style for a song. The huntress in me emerges as soon as I step into any store and begin the prowl for deep discounts. My systematic approach starts with a walk through of the store to get a feel for how merchandise is displayed and spot any examination worthy items right off the bat. I then hone in on the clearance section, and go through each and every item in my size range and color palette. I also quickly scan the other sizes to find any misplaced pieces in my size, which occurs fairly frequently. I then eliminate anything that does not match my personal style and body type. I look again at the remaining items with my stylist eye and evaluate them using these criteria: design features, brand, workmanship, compatibility with my wardrobe, and price. I try on any items that make the cut. If the fashion gods smiled on me that day, I seal the deal. Before leaving the store, I take another lap around the place  one last time to make sure I didn’t overlook any treasures. Once I get my bargains home, I try them on again with pieces from my wardrobe before removing the price tags. I also follow this tried and true approach when shopping for my clients. They appreciate how quickly I shop and the amazing fashions I find for them at such low prices.

This article christens my Style for a Song posting which will now appear regularly on this blog. The photo shows my latest and greatest deals, all found here in Greenville with the exception of one item.

  • Long animal print pleated skirt  from L’s on Augusta for $16
  • BCBG blouse with asymmetrical bow detailing from Chesapeake Bay, Md. BCBG outlet $39
  • Hoss Intropia caramel leather belt from SavVy reduced from to $102 to $25.50
  • GRAND TOTAL: $80.50


Enchanted Fashion Event Fundraiser For Upstate Students

Monday, July 9th, 2012

You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men.  I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon back on June 9 that I intended to blog about much earlier, but life got in the way. That day stood out for several reasons. I sipped Mimosas, listened to live jazz and feasted on brunch at the Sapphire Creek venue in Simpsonville. Aptly named “Summer Enchantment”, this Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sponsored event raised scholarship funds for area students through the ETO Endowment Fund.

Even though I usually take a rest from style on Sundays, I never pass up a fashion show. The afternoon’s entertainment included a beautifully produced parade of summer apparel from Belk. The models commanded the runway and the guests’ attention as they showcased the hottest  summer trends. A total of thirty fashions were grouped into five themed scenes and represented a lineup of standout styles, including a short wrap dress by BCBG Generation and a strapless gown by Adrianna Papell. The  Free People neon pink net dress took my breath away.

Professional photographer Craig Sweeney memorialized the day, and here is a sampling of his work. Craig’s business, Classy Photos, provides services for all types of special events. You may contact him at or 864-380-8043.

I cast my vote for a repeat performance of Summer Enchantment in June, 2013!

Free People Neon Pink Net Dress

Bold Print Halter Sundress



Sleek and Simple Bridal Dress





















NinaKate Divine Totes

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

I belong to a women’s business group called the DIVA Network, and it was at one of their monthly meetings that I first laid eyes on a NeenaKate handbag. Fellow DIVA member Suzi Kroske, a successful  Silpada Jewelry Design representative, carried a tote bag that stood out as a work of art. So many details about this bag captured my imagination. The fabric design consisted of rows of little Babar like white elephants against a black background.  A hint of hot pink ribbon trim and woven leather straps finished off this gem. I knew right then I wanted to see more bags in the NeenaKate Collection and meet the master minds behind this unique handbag line.

A few weeks ago I interviewed the company’s co-owner, Neena Dorsey, at her home office. She met me at the door wearing a bright orange blouse and an equally vibrant pair of slim leg print pants. She then took me to her office, which housed an array of tote style bags. I felt like a kid in a candy store. The stylist in me delighted in carefully examining a cross section of purses. The impeccable workmanship, imaginative lining and pocket insert combinations of each bag delighted me. I also saw bags matching every style persona, from classic to dramatic. I seized this opportunity to buy a tote for my twenty five year old niece’s birthday. Should I choose the turquoise, coral and blue marine life pattern or go with the chic leopard print?  In the end, I decided upon an ethereal grey and rust print tote, resembling an impressionist watercolor.

Not long into the interview it occurred to me that Neena embodied the same elements that I see in the NeenaKate collection: elegance, optimism and fun. Her style know how seems to come naturally as does her carefree, “glass is half full” approach to life.  Neena and partner Kate McCullough obviously understand not only what women like but also how to elevate their style by wearing one unforgettable accessory, like a NeenaKate tote.  In choosing textiles, they selected a host of inspiring designs and colors. Although we didn’t discuss our style philosophies, I believe that these two women share my viewpoint that fashion should uplift your spirits and put a smile on your face. NeenaKate handbags do both.

The NeenaKate line stands for quality and attention to detail. A great deal of care went into the creation of each of the over four hundred bags already created by this dynamic duo. This American made product comes in sizes from small to extra large and range in price from $69 to $189. Here is just a taste of the collection. For more information and photos, visit the company’s website at or their Facebook page,  The Greenville News also recently published an article about this up and coming upstate business.

Orange and Purple geometric Tote

Creatures of the Sea Tote

Black and white tote with a touch of whimsey on the inside