All you really need in the summertime is a tall iced coffee, a mountain to climb, waterfalls and forests to explore with your favorite people and pups, and a few solid outfits that will breathe with you through the afternoon breeze.
For a recent weekend getaway wandering the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee, I packed a few trusty wardrobe staples along with some new favorites I’ve picked up this season.
The perfect white cotton tee.
Zady .02 The T-Shirt has gotten me through weeks of humidity this summer. I love that it’s made of organic cotton in North Carolina. I adore the pocket detail, rolled sleeves, curved hemline, and how a size small drapes juuust right. Everlane’s Made in LA v-necks are another true-to-size favorite. Where other shirts have worn through and given way to torn seams and mysterious holes, my Zadys and Everlanes have held up beautifully against weekly wash and wear.
Roll ’em up olive drab shorts.
A few years ago I came across a pair of thick, organic cotton Patagonia Stand Up Shorts at my favorite thrift store. Today they’re still my go-to shorts for weekends on rivers and oceans and nights biking to dinner with friends. There are four glorious pockets on these shorts. They’re in one of my favorite colors for bottoms: Olive looks good with just about any top in my wardrobe. Currently on sale at Moosejaw and Backcountry. More by Joie, Paige (on sale here and here), James Perse, 3×1, and another pull-on Joie pair in soft lyocell.
An ethically-made swimsuit in classic black.
Ethical bathing suits tend to be well-made, but well-made, ethical bathing suits can be an investment, and finding the right one can take a long time. A few years back I kicked my habit of buying a few sexy! colorful! fun! Victoria’s Secret bikinis each summer (and so did many other women, apparently). I cleaned out everything but a worn out pastel top and a couple pairs of black bottoms (I still have the bottoms for rough and tumble river runs).
Bikiniless for a summer, I waited for a sale to invest in the most divine roaring lion bikini from Aussie brand We Are Handsome. We spent one beautiful summer together. Well, actually, I was working a lot and only went swimming a couple of times when we made it to Spain, so I barely knew my suit. Then I quit my gym and got to know just how small those lion-printed bottoms were. Out of the blue, a fellow WAH enthusiast in Australia emailed me asking to buy “The Impressor”. Back to Australia she went. There was also brief stint with a highlighter yellow reversible Triangl two piece, but I’d rather not talk about it (Tip No. 3: Australian swimwear tends to run small, small, small).
Last winter I had the idea to try something, er, simpler, and started a fresh waiting game until a beautiful black zip-up neoprene number by Lisa Marie Fernandez popped up on sale. It’s seen a lot of wear since then and has held up gorgeously from sea to lake to river to pool. Shopbop still has the LMF “Lauren” bikini in stock, and occasionally it’ll show up on eBay if you set up a saved search (wearing a 2/small; if you’re on the fence, size up).
Last month I decided to add a second simple suit to avoid the whole putting-on-a-still-damp-suit-the-second-day-of-vacation predicament. Eberjey’s “Mason So Solid” (true to size, wearing a small) was just the ticket! The coverage is perfect, it’s true to size and super stretchy, and I love that it can double as a bodysuit for summer concerts. It’s in stock on Amazon and there are a few left on sale at St. Bernard. Norma Kamali’s “Mio” is another Made In USA one-piece with a similar low, criss-cross back. This one by Zimmermann is also similar.
Tie a vintage scarf on a summery straw hat.
Top everything off with a lightweight straw fedora wrapped up in a silk scarf. Mine’s a vintage Goorin Brothers Panama with an old Field & Stream scarf that’s printed in fish and fowl. Cuyana has some great Panamas and wide brim summer hats, and you can find beaucoups of vintage silk scarves on Etsy. Last but not least, pack in a pair of knock-around Tevas, your favorite broken in booties, (sizing here), and one classic pair of polarized aviators.
A light-as-air linen (mis)matched set.
I am a bonafide collector of linen – fresh linen sheets, vintage linen napkins, second-hand linen tanks, Eileen Fisher linen pants (Tip No. 1: they run one size too big but shrink down half a size after a run through a dryer).
A few weeks back I went on a mission to find a couple sets of linen tops and bottoms and ended up matching these Reformation linen shorts to some oatmeal-toned thrift finds (Tip No. 2: Reformation’s “Tysons” are also a full size too big and shrink a whole size after a run through the laundry). If you don’t have a charity shop with lots of linen, eBay and Tradesy are great places to hunt online. If you want to invest in ethically made linen that will last forever, check out Elizabeth Suzann, James Perse, Zady, Eileen Fisher, Reformation, Everlane, and Grana.
Where we rambled in the Tennessee Hills:
- Lula Lake Land Trust, a surreal 8,000 acre private park outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee, that’s filled with waterfalls, trails, and fossils with a lake carved out of an abandoned coal mine.
- The Conasauga River Swimming Hole, where you can snorkel with 70 species of fish and sunbathe on ancient boulders with baby frogs. The Consauga is among the most bio-diverse watersheds in the United States, and it’s well worth it to pack a great snorkel to see all of the little creatures in the water. We found this “Smarson” full face snorkel mask on Amazon and loved it – no leaks, no fiddly pieces, and you can talk through the mouth piece and breathe through your nose while underwater.
- The sweetest Airbnb in all of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. We miss Ginger the pony already. What a gorgeous slice of the countryside.
- Chattanooga Whiskey Company at Tennessee Stillhouse in downtown ‘Nooga. Stop by Stir for dinner then head next door for a gorgeous tour and tasting.
Speaking of whiskey! My husband opened the doors to ASW Distillery this week. I couldn’t be more excited and proud of all of his hard work (and play) as he joins the ASW family in creating the first (legally) distilled whiskey inside Atlanta City Limits since Prohibition. Cheers, CPR! Join him for a tour soon?