How To Dress For Warm Weather: The Lightweight Poncho

Dog Days: Dressing To Beat The Heat

summer dressing with lightweight ponchoI was curious about the origin of expression “dog days of summer,” and looked it up. Apparently it has nothing to do with dogs at all …

Instead, it turns out, the dog days refer to the dog star, Sirius, and its position in the heavens.

Hmmm, not crazy about the “catastrophe” reference, but it’s no secret that this is my least favorite time of year. Some people may love hot summer days, but I’m not one of them. Here in Southern California, we have several weeks of warm weather ahead; in fact our warmest days are often in September and October. Dressing for the heat is always challenging for me, even more so when every public indoor space seems to have a/c cranked up to arctic settings. Though I will go sleeveless in extremes, I prefer to have a little bit of shoulder/upper arm coverage.

vintage medallion bracelet, Clare V. leopard clutch

Wearing: earrings | poncho | tank (similar) | bracelet | pants | bag | shoes

I used to wear ponchos a few years back, and was recently inspired to give them another try when I visited Linda V. Wright’s cashmere shop in Paris. I left with a lovely cashmere poncho (marked down during les soldes) that I wore during the flight home. (It’s fabulous for travel, more on this soon.) But a lightweight poncho like the one I’m wearing here can be a nice warm-weather option too. The weave is light and loose, the hemp fabric breathes, and it allows for lots of air circulation.

dressing for the heat in a sheer poncho

I’m sure some of you are recoiling at the idea of wearing black pants in the heat, but I’ve found these Eileen Fisher stretch crepe pants to work well even in substantial heat and humidity. I wore them around Phuket, Thailand a couple of years ago, and was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable they were. They’re also available in lighter colors, if you just can’t do black in summer. Plus size options here.


And speaking of “dog days,” here’s how Byron copes with the heat…

When it’s too warm to sleep IN the bed… #dogs #dogsofinstagram #dogslife #cavalier #cavaliersofinstagram

A photo posted by une femme d’un certain âge (@susan_unefemme) on


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  1. Jane
    August 15, 2016 / 4:02 am

    I just love reading your blog! I love that you wear as much black and white as you do and I have found myself drawn to that combination time after time. Black in summer? Oh yeah! I would really like to invest in a piece of French Kande – it looks fabulous on you (and Jennifer of A Well Styled Life). Someday! Thanks so much for your wonderful blog!

  2. nell
    August 15, 2016 / 4:46 am

    So pretty. I just realized I really like your use in this case of something sort of “gossamer” or translucent. That bit of translucency links up so compatibly with an ethereal element in your self-presentation…

    Gosh, that sounds pretty analytical and pompous! But it was my first reaction to this charming outfit…

  3. August 15, 2016 / 5:05 am

    Very pretty. I am leaning toward dresses in the heat. They are cooler on the legs than even capris.
    Or a few bohemian flowing tops that offer sun protection without feeling hot.

  4. Kellee
    August 15, 2016 / 5:14 am

    Love, love, love this outfit!

  5. Meg
    August 15, 2016 / 6:37 am

    Oh I love that poncho idea, another great tip I gleaned from your wonderful blog. Another Dress gal here, nothing like a sweeping skirt to keep the hot sun off my legs but leave plenty of room to move and have air circulate. I also go with a straw hat, keeps the sun off my head but again, air can move thru. As a matter of fact , a few years ago my husband took me to my first ( and probably last) NASCAR race, to which I wore a cotton sundress and straw hat. It was miserably hot and loud. But I looked good!

  6. Alyson That's Not My Age
    August 15, 2016 / 6:56 am

    We’re just experiencing a mini heatwave in London. This is a lovely outfit that works for day and evening – fab poncho!

  7. August 15, 2016 / 8:30 am

    Fabulous outfit Susan! I love a sheer topper in the heat, my arms are not something I like showing there days.

  8. August 15, 2016 / 12:29 pm

    Great look. I also love your tossled hair. Looking good lady!

  9. Jannie
    August 15, 2016 / 2:19 pm

    Love the look but our heat and humidity in the East can’t take that! Going to Italy next week and the poncho might work in some places! Still deciding on what to pack…any suggestions??? Taking cropped pants, dresses, sandals…thanks!

  10. Livinginparadise
    August 15, 2016 / 4:43 pm

    Wanted to let you know that love your blog! Found it maybe 6 months ago and really enjoy it. I never leave comments for the blogs I follow but felt compelled to let you know that that time and energy you put into this thoughtful blog is very much appreciated!! I am in my late 30s and find it refreshing to read a blog not written by 20 somethings road tripping in cutesy clothes all the time (although that sounds fun too). Congratulations on your recent smooth transitions with your career, as well as with your son! Can’t wait to read about your next trip to Japan – was there about 10 years ago and it was lovely. Not sure if it’s the first time you’re going to Asia – it can be hectic but under all the hustle a beauty and energy unlike even major cities in the US that I’ve been to so far. Cheers!

  11. Lane
    August 16, 2016 / 5:41 am

    I have 2 pairs of these, thanks to your advice! ( Tried to email a thank you to you?) The sizing is confusing; mine say “S/P” on the label which I was assured does not mean petite(I’m 5’8″). Fabulous for travel, easy to care for, no wrinkling. You poncho is lovely on you.

  12. August 16, 2016 / 6:16 am

    Hemp fibre is attractive, comfortable and sturdy; it is also more environmentally-friendly than cotton. I wish more garments were made of it. It is hard to find hemp clothing that is not either marijuana-themed (which I wouldn’t have liked even in the 1970s) overdone boho – though I’m far more boho than you – or only for teenage figures.

  13. Christi
    August 16, 2016 / 9:57 am

    As we head into our 4th day in a row in the DC metro area of temps in the high 90’s and a feels like in the 100’s, I’m ready for the “Dog Day’s” to be done! What star brings cool, crisp Fall weather?
    Love the poncho! I bought 4 cashmere poncho’s from Ann Taylor this spring! I know, 4??? They’re great for travel! Loved the pale pink one, then I had to buy the soft beige and then because they were so darn nice and so versatile, I just had to buy the black and navy! They’ll last for years and I bought them all on promo so I do think I bought wisely! They look great over the Eileen Fisher crepe pants. I travel with them too!
    Isn’t Linda Wright’s store fabulous!!?? I bought a wonderful French blue button down shirt and my husband loves the socks and scarf he purchased from her store too! I’m looking forward to see how you style your cashmere poncho!
    My 19 month old black and tan cav, Truffle, sleeps on the floor too in the hot weather during the day but come bed time he always gets on the bed with us!

  14. Leslie in Oregon
    August 16, 2016 / 3:25 pm

    You look even more beautiful than usual in that poncho and top!
    Thank you for the advice about dressing in heat. It is very timely, as we are heading for several days at and over 100° and then more above 95° up here. I’m going to also consult your posts on dressing for your trip to S.E. Asia, as I will be in a place with similar heat and humidity (Holbox Island, off the Yucatan Peninsula) for my son’s wedding next February (and I won’t be allowed to simply roost up to my neck in the beautiful waters)!
    Henry, our Golden Retriever, is doing just what Byron does in the heat, albeit with a fan blowing at him. Bob, our Long-Haired Dachshund, is nearby. And Coco?

  15. Kathy Hunt
    August 28, 2016 / 8:05 am

    I love your blog! I manage an Eileen Fisher store so I can help clear up the size tag confusion for Lane. We sell our product in Canada so the “p” on that tag is for our Frence Canadan customers…”small” in Englush is translated as “petite” in French – hence the “s/p”. We tell our customers in the US to just pay attention to what is on the left side of the “/”! (If it were an actual petite small it would read “PS”!)

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