Hot summer days in the city beg for the bare breeziness of a sundress. What could be less complicated in the morning than to slip into a silky, stretchy frock and a strappy pair of sandals? You’re out the door and on your way in minutes and set for the day.
While sundress choices seem almost limitless this season, I find that some styles and fabrics work better than others for the kind of comfort and ease that we can all appreciate on a summer ride.
So, as those Fourth of July markdowns heat up, I thought I’d share some of the features that I like, using my current favorite, the Nau Compleat Stripe dress (that’s not a typo; it’s a reference to the pretty pleated bodice) as an example:
Comfort fabric: Synthetic, breathable fabrics with a soft hand and a touch of stretch move with you and drape more gracefully than cotton. This one, in MicroModal® (a renewable fiber), with just a hint of spandex, feels silky next to the skin and flows beautifully. Look for fabric that has sufficient body and weight to prevent it from blowing upward in a breeze.
Self-supporting: For maximum ease, I look for a dress with a shelf bra, or other support. This dress has a double layer of fabric, plus gathering for added shape. If you need more support, layer a sundress over a simple sports bra.
The middle way: Too short a hemline sometimes leads to a wiggly struggle with panty show, while a maxi dress requires knotting excess fabric to prevent it from interfering with pedaling or getting tangled in the rear wheel. No disrespect to either — we love them all, don’t we? But day-to-day, I prefer the middle way: A hem that grazes the knee, which I find carefree in its coverage of my lower body. A generous drape also lets me remain comfortably seated in the saddle at a traffic light with one foot up on the pedal, ready to push off.
Longer in back: A hemline that’s slightly longer in the back shows a hint of knee off the bike, while the extra few inches at the back yield a more even line when pedaling.
Form flattery: An empire waist is a feminine option that not only suits many figure types, but also takes any constraints on movement out of the equation. A fitted bodice with a skirt that flairs from the waist is another good choice for pedaling.
With all these advantages for summer cycling, the only downsides to sundresses are found indoors. Bareness doesn’t always play well in a work setting or with blasting air conditioning. So tuck a light cardigan or pullover into your bag to assure that you’re ready for whatever the day brings. And don’t forget to apply sunscreen before you hit the streets!
Nau Compleat Dress, shown in black (top) and cape stripe (middle and lower), $78 (on sale)
Photos: Top, Nau; Others, P. Wunsch