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16 Cooling Clothes for Heat Waves and Summer Trips

Summertime brings with it a major rise in tourism – and temperatures. With record breaking heat already sweeping its way around the world, the way we approach travel planning is important and ever-changing. So, I’m never one to shy away from religiously checking my weather app before a trip in order to pack the best cooling clothing and accessory options to beat the heat. 

After tackling 100-degree temperatures in Arizona while visiting the Grand Canyon for the first time, I realized that I would need to take serious inventory of my travel wardrobe ahead of my annual summer retreat to Europe in August. I’m already mapping out the items I’ll need to fit into my tried-and-true packing cubes as I fulfill my bucket list wish to finally visit the sun-drenched shores of Hvar, Croatia, Sicily, Amalfi Coast, and more. It’s a lofty trip that requires a lot of packing consideration for the heat. 

My very intentional checklist to navigate this multi-city itinerary includes fabrics that drape off the body, hats with built in mesh for ventilation, and a few of my favorite breathable and airy staples. Polyester and cotton are also my go-tos for stretchy and airy outfits.

No matter your final destination’s temperature, here are some great options to stay prepared, from lightweight short sets to moisture-wicking t-shirts and everything in between. 

Linen Short Set


There’s nothing quite as convenient as a ready-made outfit – one that already matches and does not require ironing. This linen short set from Zeagoo makes casual days on the beach a breeze, with shorts that feature an elastic waistband, an adjustable drawstring, and deek pockets. The button-down shirt can be paired with a cute tank or T-shirt, and it’s long enough to tuck in if you’d like. 

Airy Oversized Button-down Shirt


To help beat the heat, this oversized, airy button-down from Big Dart is the perfect pick. Match it with your favorite pair of shorts or pants and a bold necklace to make it pop. It comes in a variety of colors, including a vibrant royal blue and rose color that sets the tone for a colorful summer. The oversized, loose fit and roll-up sleeves make it a great cooling option that’s easy to put on and take off. 

Wide-leg Linen Pants


When I’m climbing those steep stairs like Cersei did on a Game of Thrones tour in Dubrovnik in a few months, I’m going to need some very breathable clothing. A summer staple, wide-leg linen pants are the heat fighting superhero of clothing that never fails. This flowy option from Siliteelon comes in an airy capri fit with an elastic waistband and pockets. The linen-cotton material makes it moveable and light. Pair it with your favorite pair of sandals and tank top. 

Casual Tank Dress


Lightweight polyester and spandex make this tank dress from Auseilly a surefire bet against any warm day. Equipped with pockets and long enough to pear with or without pants, you can choose from over 25 colors and prints for your next getaway. 

Moisture-wicking T-shirt


This moisture-wicking shirt from REI Co-op is my must-have for trips to warm climates. The soft jersey fabric provides excellent moisture wicking and UPF 50+ protection. Wrinkle resistant and lightweight, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a pair of jeans or shorts – and will quickly dry even the worst of sweat stains.

High-waisted Running Shorts


Whether you’re aiming to get a run in or just in search of a pair of comfortable travel shorts, this high-waisted option from The Gym People fits the bill. A slit on the outer layer of the shorts provides a great range of movement while walking, and you can also store your cards in a handy hidden waistband pocket. Made with a moisture-wicking fabric, you won’t have to worry about any lasting sweat stains.

Linen-blend Matching Pant Set


Pack this super chic linen set for your next pool or dinner party. A sleeveless, square neck top and wide leg bottoms make it an ideal cooling outfit with a lot of breathability. Cotton rayon fabric is soft on the skin, and pockets in the pants are always a plus, especially while traveling. You can mix and match the top or bottom with alternate styles, too. 

UPF 50 Cooling Bandana 


With chemical-free cooling fabric, this cooling bandana shields against sun damage with solar protection yarn. Its cooling properties begin once you wet it and last for up to three hours. It can be worn as a bandana, neck drape, or headband, and has a very durable fabric — especially when it’s wet. 

Lightweight Tank Top


The well-loved activewear brand Vuori has recently launched a new women’s travel collection, and this Villa Cami is one of my favorites from the line. A lightweight tank is a hot weather clothing must-have, and the easy fit option is naturally wrinkle-resistant and made with partially recycled stretch woven fabric. For another budget-friendly option, this loose fit tank from Automet on Amazon bids well when temperatures rise.  

Non-slip Slides


One of the worst feelings in hot weather is the slipping and sliding of sweaty feet in sandals. These no-slip open toe slippers from Menore are super lightweight and breathable, with a thick sole that provides shock absorption and great cushioning for long walking days. These shoes have helped prevent that dull achiness after very active travel days, and they come in a number of vibrant colors I love, including rose and yellow. For another more dressed up shoe option, I rely on these comfortable David Pliner mules on Amazon. The ventilated macrame fabric provides a great airflow and the small heel makes walking long distances more manageable. 

Lightweight Hooded Tank


A relaxed, breathable fit gives this hooded tank all the perks of a workout top to head to the gym or walking excursions while you travel. The popular pick on Amazon comes in a variety of colors and functional pockets.  I like to pair it with my favorite lounge pants from Vuori on layovers, or, these sandy river shorts from Columbia that feature 100-percent nylon fabric that has UPF 30 protection against the sun’s rays. They come in a variety of colors and are currently on sale on Amazon. 

Breathable One-piece Swimsuit 

Left on Friday

I fell in love with Left on Friday’s swimwear (as did other T+L writers) as soon as I saw its range of styles for all body shapes and sizes. The Sunday Suit provides all the consideration that many one-piece suits often miss: stretchy, quick-drying lycra, thin, buttery-soft material that doesn’t trap heat on hot days, and a range of colors that just scream “Summer is here. Get into it!” They have a large range of bikinis, too, with full or cheeky coverage bottoms to choose from. For extra sun protection, check out their SunDays fabric line that protects from UV rays and comes in a range of styles that includes a long-sleeved mock neck top.

Button-up Swimsuit Coverup


I love versatile clothing, and this pick from Dokotoo checks all of the boxes by functioning as both a swimsuit cover-up and day dress. The material is lightweight with short sleeves and slits on each side that provides a great cooling effect when walking. You won’t have a hard time finding your color of choice for your beach or pool day too, as there are over 20 hues and prints to choose from. For beach days, I also adore this long sarong from Hunza G, with super soft fabric and UPF 50+ fabric. No matter the coverup, my go-to sunglasses to shield from the sun are any of the eclectic designs from designer Poppy Lissiman. I’m currently obsessing over these rose-colored crimped frames with CAT1 UV-protected lens.

Ventilated Sun Hat 


Sun hats come in clutch in any hot weather environment, but can cause even more body heat due to lack of ventilation. This unisex hat from Columbia is the answer to all your hat hiccups, with a moisture-wicking headband and UV-blocking sun protection fabric. The sun-shielding hat has an adjustable chin strap and mesh ventilation for those days when your hair and head need to breathe. And speaking of hair, hot weather always makes flyaways come out to play. I like to slick mine down with GIOVANNI’S Styling Gel, available on Amazon.

Sweat-wicking Activewear Dress


I adore this flowy, lightweight dress from Columbia, particularly for its Omni-Freeze material that has accelerated wicking for hot temperatures and UPF 50 fibers that guard against UVA/UVB rays. A stylish gathered design at the shoulders makes it an easy pick to transition from active days to casual nights and the comfort stretch polyester doesn’t require an iron. The dress comes in a number of colors, including a vibrant coral color called “juicy” and a more neutral option called “safari” that can match with just about anything. 

Oversized Shirt Dress

Scotch & Soda

An oversized shirt dress allows for great air flow and ultimate comfort. The fun print of this dress from Scotch & Soda reminds me of the best beach summer days, with multicolor embroidered seashells and palm trees. It also perfectly matches the pink themed retreat of the Amalfi Coast’s prized Palazzo Avino, where I’ll be spending a weekend – perfect for a photo opp. The linen fabric makes it lightweight, and it’s versatile enough to dress up with heels or down with sandals for a beach day. 

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