How to Dress for Working in the Heat

Dressing to stay cool when you’re working outside in the heat isn’t as simple as putting on a tank top and shorts. Learn Marjory’s best tips in this video!

How to dress for working in the heat (The Grow Network)

Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay

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.

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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 plenty durable, but can make you feel very hot while you’re working.

So what’s the right approach?

In the video down below, I show you my favorite solution.

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 I suggest in the video, you can often get a great deal on “sun shirts” at the thrift store.

One trick you can use to keep yourself cool in a long-sleeved 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.

Check out this video for more tips:


This is an updated version of an article that was originally published on September 16, 2016.

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This post was written by Marjory Wildcraft


  • 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

  • Gail Gardner says:

    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….

    1. Tina says:

      eat garlic. bug don’t like it.

  • martin webb says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

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

  • Teresa Klepac says:

    My husband covers up all of his skin when he goes out in the garden but I just can’t bring myself to do that in the extreme heat! However, last week when I was pulling up old cucumber vines and planting seeds I got a number of fire ant bites on my knees so I am starting to rethink wearing long pants versus shorts! I also will try dunking the shirt in water to start with even though I usually have a wet shirt after about 30 minutes from sweat.

  • Sandy says:

    Sandy Forest here. This summer we have high heat and high humidity. Also, I have very sensitive skin, even with most essential oils diluted in water or oil. As well as several kinds of mosquitoes and the full complement of ticks. The long sleeved shirt idea will work for us because we generally have a light breeze most days. I need a finely woven long sleeved shirt as an under layer since our skeeters can bite through a single layer of fabric easiy. One of the best quick-drying, long sleeved shirts I have found is finely woven cotton lawn worn over another light layer. Finely woven sheer cotton fabric from India also breathes well. I leave the outer shirt untucked so air blows under it and lightly dot peppermint oil down the placket of the inner and outer shirt on the cuffs and on the points of the outer shirt collar to help keep the bugs away as well as all around the brim of my hat. The back panel of the brim of my hat tucks into he collar of my shirt to further block mosquitoes. Whether or not you rinse your over-shirt periodically or not, a final rinse when going inside will flush away the salt from a sweaty day and make the shirt breath more effectively.

  • mbulfinch2 says:

    We used to have such bad mosquitos in the summer that I never ventured outside with full pants and long sleeves. (missed all the great Vitamin D) But about five years ago I noticed not that many biting insects unless I was in the shady part of the yard when there was no sun outside. I started thinking about it and it was when the dragonfly population in our acreage bloomed. They are everywhere . They like it hot and sunny.

    1. mbulfinch2 says:

      I meant never ventured outside without long pants and long sleeves. hehe

    2. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Ah yes! dragonflies. Such amazing creatures. Come to think of it, I rarely had a problem in Tesas with mosquitos and we had a lot of dragon flies too.
      How do they ever manage all that wings activity? LOL

      1. lostprophets1929 says:

        I’m a landscaper in SC and some of our properties are notorious for mosquitos. Like swarms. One of our guys got bit up so much he felt sick and the pictures of his abdomen were horrendous. Some things I’ve noticed is obviously they’ll prefer standing water, including ponds and such. A slight breeze will generally keep them at bay as they’re not strong fliers. They prefer cooler temps, moisture, and clouds or shade to hot, dry, and sunny so early mornings and late evenings are their favorite mealtimes. I also notice when there are natural predators around that they are hardly noticeable. I read that dragonflies will eat mosquitoes at every stage of a mosquitos life, including larvae, so that makes sense. It’s also good to have amphibians (like frogs), birds, and other predatory insects around, dragonflies being the most effective.

  • EstherCook says:

    The area of Earth most famous for heat is the Middle East. When we think Arabs and Bedouins, do we think tank tops and shorts? Why the total opposite. All you see are hands and faces, and many women even veil their faces. Their clothes are not tight, but flowing and loose. They wear shade tents around their bodies!

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