Cool and sexy looks for sweltering summer cookouts

Fashionistas share their favorite summer party gear

Got an agenda full of cookouts and a closet full of nothing? Dressing for a summer party can be tough — how to stay cool and look cool without overdressing or underdressing is a challenge. We asked fashion experts to share their favorite summer outfits with us to give you some ideas on where to start.

1. Tracy McElfresh

Co-Owner, Sew Dayton

Blogger and Artist, Tracysews

If you think you think your only options are a dress or shirt/pants (or skirt) combos, think again. Rompers and jumpers for adults have made their way back into style.

“As of today, my favorite summer outfit is a loose-fitting jumper,” Tracy McElfresh of Sew Dayton said. “I love the jumper I made from a 1990 pattern because I can ride my bike in it.”

Consider investing in a jumper or two — not only are they easy to wear, they’re also versatile. “It is so comfortable to wear to cookouts and events,” McElfresh added. “It’s easy to get in and out of; and it looks so cute. “

McElfresh made her jumper by “hacking” or altering a pattern from the 1990s, so if you’re handy with a needle, you could try sewing your own, too. This is a great option for those wanting the greatest control over the fit and fabric.

If time is of the essence, jumpers and rompers for women are easily found in stores.

To learn more about how McElfresh created her jumper, visit

2. Jesy Anderson

Co-Owner, Sew Dayton

Blogger and Artist, Needle, Ink & Thread

Jesy Anderson’s favorite cookout wear depends on who’s going to be there and what the guests will likely be up to. Anderson, also of Sew Dayton, said that for a family barbecue she has a go-to casual look.

“My family cookout favorite outfit is a pair of capri jeans with an Ohio printed tank top that I purchased from Clash Dayton,” Anderson said. “(The reason) I love this outfit so much is the versatility. I have many nieces and nephews that love to play games at the parties. I love being able to run around and have quality time with family, and unfortunately being in a dress hinders that a bit.”

Anderson’s outfit is fun and easy way to elevate the basic T-shirt and shorts. To get this look, invest in a fun, quirky top with a great print or silkscreen and a nice pair of capris or Bermuda-length shorts.

Going to a kid-free, evening cookout is a different story. “If I am going to a summer backyard party made up of mostly adults, I will try to wear a dress that I made,” Anderson said. “Makes me feel a little more like an adult, and I know my husband loves it when I dress up a little bit.”

If making dresses isn’t your thing, try a sundress in a natural fiber like cotton or linen, which is a little dressier and breathable during humid evenings outdoors.

To learn more about Anderson’s handmade dresses, visit

3. Mary Kathryn Burnside

Owner, Clash Dayton

If you want to add an unexpected twist to your party gear, consider a retro style.

“My favorite outfit to wear to a summer party would be something with a bohemian vibe to it. I really like the 70’s fringe knit dresses and tops that are back in style right now,” said Mary Kathryn Burnside of Clash Dayton. Located in Dayton’s Oregon District, Clash offers an eclectic mix of vintage and new clothing lines, as well as locally made items and artwork.

“I like pairing the tops with a high-waisted long skirt and a bandeau top underneath,” Burnside added. “This look works well with sun hats if you are outside during the day.”

To find fun, retro items it’s best to check out smaller boutiques and vintage stores like Clash. They’re your best bet for finding something one of a kind.

To learn more, visit

4. BG Krishnan


If your summer cookout is a little more formal, meet hot weather’s answer to the little black dress: the little white dress. Easily dressed up or down, a white dress will keep you cool and stylish throughout the summer.

If you’re skeptical about wearing white, B.G. Krishnan of the fashion website shared some tips for keeping it flattering. “Especially for those with pale skin tones, avoid the washed-out look by adding a bright accessory to break up the monotony and keep color near the face,” Krishnan said. Try a red and blue scarf for the Fourth!

Another thing to keep in mind while wearing white, especially in the bright sunshine, are potential wardrobe malfunctions. “When shopping for white wares, choose quality, heavier fabrics that offer structure and are less likely to be see-through, and don’t forget the nude undergarments,” Krishnan said.

To find little white dresses and more visit

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