Ladies Auxiliary Army Dental Service Summer Uniforms 1940
Signature Summer Wardrobe (Uniforms) c1940 Ladies Auxiliary Army Dental Service Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria

After four years of unemployment, I have recently acknowledged to myself, that I probably won’t be leaving the house to go out to work in a nice air-conditioned office any time soon, so I must do what I advise others to do and buy clothes for the life that I am currently living. It’s time to develop a Signature Summer Wardrobe.

Over the last four years I really thought I would find work any minute, so I haven’t bought many clothes that are suitable for a non-office environment. And to be honest, most of those office clothes are a little snug at this point anyway, so I don’t have anything appropriate for an unairconditioned house. We do have air-conditioning, but I don’t think it’s worth running for a single person. Last summer I struggled through the summer in track pants and t-shirts pioneer style; closing all the doors and windows and drawing the curtains until the inside and outside temperatures were the same. Sometimes I put the air-con on so the house was cooler when DB got home.

You might think that I am running a bit late on the summer wardrobe planning, but as I explained in my rodent ruminations, meteorological spring comes earlier that actual spring so I’m in the region of when I am going to start needing these clothes. (Tommorrow’s forecast is 32C/90F).

Using the techniques I describe in my book Build Your Signature Wardrobe (offering advice on developing your budget, determining what’s appropriate and stylish for you, and deciding what you need so that you can confidently build your signature wardrobe) I have developed the following plan.


I still have around a third of this year’s budget left but I want to carry some over to next year (see below) and want to get my summer update for $500 maximum. At my recommended 2:1 split, this gives me $334 for everyday clothes and $166 for good.


Our highest recorded summer temperature was 46.4C/115.5F, and if it got to that extreme I probably would put the air-conditioning on, but if the pioneer methods are employed before it gets too hot, they will maintain a 10C/50F differential which means that the house generally remains comfortable until late in the day. And because it is weatherboard, it generally releases the heat adequately overnight if the temperature is cool enough. For the most part, the house interior doesn’t get more than a workable 86°F (30° C).

My basic needs for summer are clothes that are loose enough to permit air flow, and in natural fibres that help wick the sweat away, i.e. cotton and linen. The colour of the house clothes don’t matter, but my street clothes would be better in a lighter colour to reflect the heat.


In theory, no one will see me in my house clothes, but I still have some vestige of pride in my appearance, and you never know when a parcel delivery, real estate agent or electricity salesman will turn up. Plus it would be nice to not have to get changed to duck out for milk or run some errands.  So the summer update must look nice as well as keep me cool.

The bulk of my clothes are scarlet, royal or navy blue, black, white and a little cerise and it’s sensible to work within that set to take full advantage of those I already own. My preference is for clothes that are somewhat fitted, so much so that I had to alter one of my tops to give it some shape – while I love the floral pattern it made me feel fat and frumpy. I prefer the smooth line of a pocketless garment in my street clothes, but in my house clothes they are practical for stuffing things in while I am tidying up though I prefer them discreet.


In 1918, the ideal wardrobe consisted of four or five day dresses, a blouse and skirt, a (semi-formal) afternoon dress, and a (formal) evening dress. Of course, that was an annual wardrobe, (with hat, gloves, stockings and shoes required but not mentioned) so let’s say two everyday outfits for the house (one to wear and one in the wash), a street dress for “good” (because I don’t have one) and because my anti-rejection medication makes me prone to sunburn a summer coat for sun protection. I don’t envisage any formal events in the near future so if some emergency situation comes up I will rent something.

I would like a new sun hat but the one I have has plenty of wear left in it so I will put a new hat on the list for next year and see if that can be accommodated.

I haven’t bought a new pair of shoes in so long that DB now has twice as many as me (weird I know). Most of my existing shoes were bought for pre-transplant comfort (not prettiness) and I don’t like them anymore. (We’ve discussed a number of times in regard to presence,  home and garden that your authentic self changes over time and leaks out in your choices.) Over the last twelve months, I have completely ignored them and wore my boots or Birkenstock sandals instead. “Dress” sneakers (as opposed to sports sneakers) were on my list of things to buy this year, but I haven’t seen any that I liked and fit well, so I am prepared to sacrifice those to get a pretty pair of  dress shoes that I adore and can wear all the time. The sneakers can go back on the list for next year. I might donate the yucky shoes to charity.

The Basic Plan

So my basic summer wardrobe plan/shopping list sits at:

  • 2 house outfits
  • 1 street outfit
  • summer coat
  • pretty street shoes

What do you think? Would this work for the season for you?


Next time, we’ll look at what I already own that we can use. And then do some research about what’s in-store at the moment.

2015 Signature Wardrobe Summer Plan part 1

2015 Signature Wardrobe Summer Plan part 2

2015 Signature Wardrobe Summer Plan part 3

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3 responses to “2015 Signature Wardrobe Summer Plan part 1”

  1. Have you tried Savers? Might stretch your dollar further. A day trip to some op shops in the inner east could also result in some nice cheap designer buys. But I am bad in summer – at home it is comfort all the way in my strapless summer dress (or my moo moo as I affectionately call it).

    1. Thanks for the tips Amanda. I hadn’t heard of Savers, but there’s one near me so definitely worth checking out! My local op (thrift) shops are useless for me but a trip to the more affluent suburbs is an excellent idea. Cool and comfortable is definitely my goal!

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