Keep the Sun Off of You and Stay Cool Homesteading Basics: How to Dress for Working in the Heat

The Best Way to Dress for A Hot Day’s Work

When you’re going out to do a long day’s work in the hot sun, the clothes you choose can make all the difference. It can be an important decision if you’re in an area where the heat is intense enough to bring on heat stroke – and dehydration is a risk no matter where you live.

You might be tempted to reach for shorts and a sleeveless shirt. Those will give you plenty of circulation, but they’ll leave your skin exposed to the sun. On the other end of the spectrum you’ve got denim, which is great for working, but can make you feel very hot while you’re working. So what’s the right approach? In the video below, Marjory is going to show you her favorite solution.

Read more: Heat Exhaustion – The #1 Threat to Summertime Gardeners

It All Starts with the Hat

To keep the sun off your head and face, you can’t beat a wide brimmed hat. The wider the brim, the better. Make sure that your hat keeps the sun off the back of your neck, and you might even move the hat to a different position on your head – depending on where the sun is at any given point in time.

Straw is the material of choice, but there are some other good options out there. Whatever material you choose, just make sure that the hat is light and cool. It’s best if you pick a hat that allows for some ventilation on the top of your head.

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The Best Dress for Working in the Heat

The next article of clothing to think about is your shirt. When you’re working in the sun, it is really important to keep the sun off of your skin, so you should always choose a long-sleeved shirt. A long-sleeved button down shirt is a good choice. As Marjory suggests, you can get a great deal on “sun shirts” at the thrift store.

One trick you can do to keep yourself cool in the long sleeve shirt is to periodically dunk the entire shirt in water. That way you’ll get a nice cool feeling every time there’s a breeze, as the water in your shirt evaporates into the air. Here’s Marjory to show you how it’s done:

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Michael Ford


Michael has been the resident editor at The [Grow] Network since January 2015. Michael grew up in St. Louis, where he became a lover of nature - hiking and fishing his way through the Ozark hills in Missouri. He attended Baylor University in Waco, TX, and he currently lives in Austin. Michael has background experience in small-scale farming, commercial growing, vegetable gardening, landscaping, marketing, and software development. He received his Permaculture Design Certification from the Austin Permaculture Guild in 2013.

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  • I enjoyed this. I wear a bandana on my neck and head as well as a long sleeve shirt I also always wear long pants . I summer I use lighter pants and always wear my socks over my pant legs to keep ticks and other bugs out of my hinter regions. Deer ticks are a real issue in our region . I wear either sneakers of a lightweight boot high top crocs are a favorite . I spray myself down with a nice smelling herbal insect repellant and come inside to cool down and drink water every half hour

  • I had a farrier who worked out in the heat all summer long in southern California. He wore a plain white t-shirt underneath a flannel shirt in the summer. He said that caused a cooling effect. Might be worth trying out.

    When it is really miserable out, those gel-filled neck wraps you put in the freezer and then tie around your throat or head can make a big difference. You might even be able to tuck one into the band of a hat.

  • I always put 5 or 6 ice-cubes in a small zip lock bag and put it in the crown of my hat. i wear a bandanna over my head so you might want to wrap a handkerchief around he ice bag to keep the ice from being to cold on your head. You would be surprised how much the ice cubes on the head help. Also, i tie a thin cotton cup towel around the crown and let it float around the back of my neck and shoulders…protection while still letting a breeze in. After my feet got swarmed by ants while cutting brush and unknowingly standing in an ant den, i have been smearing vapor rub on my shoes and ankles which really deters the ants…i think that they do not like the eucalyptus in the rub.

    When i was in China working on a film, the Chinese who had to wear the heavy Mandarin robes and heavy guard costumes had us get vests made from large bamboo beads for them to wear under their robes…they said it allowed the air to circulate and keep them cool.

  • What I want to know is how do you keep bugs off. I’ve tried herbal sprays and I refuse to use anything with DEET in it. I did use the Off brand clip-on repellent and it worked fairly well, but I ran into problems with it too. If I wore it on the side of my pants, it fell off every time I bent down, and if I put it in the front, it got in my way plus it’s not too good to have it where I will be breathing it closely. Putting it on the back of my pants worked best, but then I would forget about it and it ended up in the toilet twice when I had to go to the bathroom. Anybody have any suggestions? By the way, it still worked after the toilet incident but ewww….

  • martin webb

    Flannel shirts work the best they get damp from sweat then evaporate just like air condition. Sleeves up when indoors down when in the sun. Just look back at the old timers.

  • Brenda M

    Great advice for dry heat. I would like to add some thoughts on humid heat. Evaporative cooling doesn’t work well in humid heat. I have found that the gel bandannas that are kept in the freezer work well for me. I use them around my forehead and wear a straw hat. I wear old loose scrub pants and boots to keep bugs and ants off of me. I generally am through outside around 10am. If I go back out in the late afternoon, it is a quick trip to pick something from the garden or to take care of the chickens, otherwise the mosquitoes would carry me off. I also got a recipe off of a WHO website for rehydration, so I make my own gator-aid.

  • Dennis Dieterich

    So it all starts with the hat and your hat is on the ground. Kind a lost credibility there huh?

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