8 Key Style Hacks for Transgender Women in Hot Weather

8 Key Style Hacks for Transgender Women in Hot Weather
Photo: STYLECASTER. Design: Mike Commins/StyleCaster.

Though the calendar says summer’s nearing a close, the weather says otherwise. The sun is bright, the humidity’s thick and that heat doesn’t seem like it’s letting up any time soon. I’m no weather girl, but I’m definitely not trading the dresses in my closet for sweaters any time soon; my fashion forecast says summer styles will prevail over autumnal ones for another few weeks—if not even more than that.

In the spirit of making late summer easier to bare, I thought I’d share the tips and tricks that keep me looking my best at times like these. Here, eight ways to make hot weather more manageable.

1. Start with Sunscreen

At this point, there’s no discounting the importance of sunscreen. It keeps your skin happy, healthy and looking its best. What’s not to like?

This suggestion is particularly important for transgender women. I know electrolysis on the face and body can be essential for a smooth transition, but it can also cause skin damage. Few things will help protect your skin the same way sunscreen will, so be sure to lather it on and reapply as necessary. (Consult the directions on your go-to sunscreen to find out just how frequently you should be reapplying—it might be more than you think.)

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If you’re worried about texture, remember, not all sunscreens are oily. I use one that doubles as a moisturizer, and I apply it religiously. Even if I’m just running outside for a quick errand, I wash my face and lather some on. And if fragrance is more of a concern, you can always mask the scent with your favorite perfume. (That’s what I do!)

A final tip: Pick up a mineral stick instead of a spray bottle. It’s compact and convenient—plus, you don’t have to worry about it leaking in your bag.

2. Opt for Crops—or Loose Tops

For me, tank tops and crop tops are warm-weather essentials; I love that they’re simple and sexy at the same time. (I usually don’t wear anything shorter than my bottom rib, as a personal rule of thumb.)

But I know not everyone is comfortable baring so much skin. If you’d rather cover up a little, I suggest a longer, loose top. This is an especially great option if you’re pre-op and want to hide your bulge (or if you’re just worried about a slip). For the two summers between my transition and having surgery, I wore long, loose tanks over shorts—always with a fun bra or bandeau underneath.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Layer

I know, I know—the weather can get seriously temperamental, making it hard to know what to wear shirt-wise. My suggestion? Layer. It doesn’t matter if it’s the end of summer or the beginning of fall, layering is a practical way to ensure you’re cool enough on hot days and warm enough on chilly nights.

Tanks under T-shirts are a good go-to. If you get hot (if you’re in transition, this is very possible given your changing hormone levels), you can easily remove one of the layers.

And when it comes to outerwear, you truly can’t go wrong with a denim jacket. Since the fabric is breathable, you can throw it on when you get chilly and trust you won’t end up too hot.

4. Don’t Swear Off Skirts and Shorts

I know how hard summer can be when you’re in the early stages of transitioning. A lot of the time, transgender women are worried about their bulge showing—which can feel like a huge problem for women who like wearing skirts, shorts or dresses.

My recommendation is to start loose. You can find affordable shorts and skirts in loose-fitting, breathable materials at fast-fashion retailers, like Free People, Urban Outfitters and Forever21. These will keep you feeling mobile and comfortable; during my transition, I liked to wear a tank top tucked into a skirt (I still do that now, but my skirts have gotten a lot tighter).

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The same principle works for dresses, too. Not only are baggy T-shirt dresses convenient and comfortable, they’re also very on-trend; they’ll keep you looking and feeling great, and you won’t have to worry about fabric that clings too tight.

And a quick word on denim shorts: Unless you’re pretty comfortable with your transitioning body, I’d save the denim shorts for when you’re post-op. I wore them pre-transition, but I was always at my most uncomfortable when I did.

5. A Quick Note About Swimsuit Season

Warm-weather activities like visiting the beach or going to the pool are by far the trickiest part of seasonal dressing for pre-op transgender women. In fact, those things might just be their worst nightmare—I know they were mine.

When it comes to swimwear, you want to strike the right balance between feeling comfortable and still being yourself. I was able to do this by top with subtle padding and matching skirtini.

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Padded tops can be awkward, and too much padding can distract you while you should be enjoying yourself in the sun. Be sure to find a top that works with your figure (like I said, subtle padding worked best for me).

If you don’t “tuck” (I didn’t), you can buy a tighter fitting bathing suit bottom to keep things in place. But if you don’t want to do that, the skirtini is a great option. I personally opted for a bathing suit bottom with shorts over it or a skirtini every time. I absolutely hated it, but it was better than going topless wearing board shorts.

And of course, if you’re post-op, you get to buy and wear your first bikini! Who cares what the style is? If it makes you feel good, you’ll look great.

6. Flattering Footwear Is the Move

Gladiators, gladiators, gladiators. These are my go-to. Since I have wide feet, flip-flops aren’t always the best option for me. Gladiators are flattering, versatile and comfortable—plus, they never go out of style. A cute pair of Vans are never a bad options either; they’re comfortable, breathable and always on-trend.

If you’re going out and don’t want to wear winter booties, try a fun wedge or strappy sandal. They’re usually flattering and often offer an instant confidence boost. If you’re tall and don’t feel comfortable in a tall heel, there are plenty of sandals with shorter heels that are just as fashionable.

7. Get a Super Practical Bag

If you don’t already have a mini-backpack, get one. You’d be surprised by how much you can fit in there. Plus, you can alternate carrying it on one shoulder or both, depending on your look. I know micro-purses are super in right now, but in my opinion, you can get a better bang for your buck with a mini-backpack.

8. Stock Up on Sunnies

Get yourself a pair of sunglasses that make you feel your most beautiful. I never leave my house without a pair. I suggest getting a simple, universal black pair that you can wear year-round, and a second, colorful, statement-making pair. 

Sunglasses have the ability to make you feel comfortable running errands or going anywhere else without a full face of makeup or when you’re not feeling your prettiest. They’re the final touch to any look.

Finally, a few crucial items to have at all times:

Besides the obvious (phone, wallet, keys), of course.

  • Sunscreen 
  • Rosewater facial spray
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Gum/mints
  • Chapstick
  • An eyebrow brush
  • A mirror
  • Highlighter (for quick day-to-night looks)
  • A Tweezer (you never know)
  • A phone charger
  • Headphones
  • A nail file.

Style is all about representing yourself. Even though you may not feel your best at the current moment, you, your closet and your body are ever-changing. No matter what stage you’re in, wear what makes you feel your best, and know you can and will achieve your ideal style, eventually. Keep being the strong person you are, and know that once you feel complete in your transition, it will all be worth it—buying that bikini will be the cherry on top of it all.