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Sarah Cawood

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Styling Out The Great British Summer

Posted: 11/08/11 10:29

I'm going to whinge about the weather. And what it does to the populous. I make no apology for this. As a Brit it is my right to whine about the rain.

So, here we are again, nearly at the tail end of yet another dismal summer. Oh, and a relatively hot Spring does not count because we miss out on those balmy nights drinking gin and tonics in the garden. You simply cannot do that in April 'cause it's too damn cold when the sun goes down.

What I like about the British Summer Mentality though is this: it may rain day in day out for most of the season but we don't let that stop us pretending that we are hanging out somewhere in the Med. Every day we get dressed with hope in our cold hearts. On goes the maxi dress and the gladiator sandals. We may throw a little shrug over our shoulders to keep out the nip in the morning air and we accessorise the whole look with a maxi bag that has plenty of room to house a brolly but we forget to put one in... and then we all set off for work. And freeze our butts off for the rest of the day.

It's becoming something of a bonding ritual among commuters to cast sympathetic glances at each other on the train. The girl who wore her Havianas then got caught in a torrential downpour will catch the eye of the girl whose flimsy dress has gone virtually see through in the same storm and they will share a knowing look. Sometimes the code of commuter conduct will even be broken and A Conversation will be had about the sheer bloodymindedness of the weather ("it was really sunny when I left the house!" "I know! I never have a clue what to prepare for these days..").

And then there are the other days. You know the ones. When you feel very smug because you looked out of the window and decided you would Be Prepared. Brolly in bag, long sleeve T-shirt, jeans, trainers. Wet Weather Gear. And you BOIL on the tube because although it looks grey, dismal and a bit chilly from your bedroom, it's actually a muggy, humid and clammy day, and one that you spend sweating into your carefully prepped cotton.

It is all very curiously British. I went to New York for a four-day break many years ago and let me tell you, over there, it's Movie Rain: the kind that makes you look like you stepped into a shower with all your clothes on. But they all just Got On With It. Every shop, hotel and restaurant had umbrellas to hand out to the patrons, sandbags held back the flooding drains and no self respecting commuter was without appropriate clothing: the Big Apple certainly didn't rot in the rain. London, are you listening?

I think the difference is that although we have a reputation for being as miserable as the weather, we are actually a very hopeful nation. We all seem to have an image of a (non-existent) halcyon day gone by when the summers were long and hot and we won football tournaments. I'm sorry to be a harbinger of doom but those days exist only in our rose tinted heads. However, I will say that I don't think we should ever change. We need to carry on being hopeful dressers and believing that one day we will win the World Cup because without hope in our hearts we are just a soggy bunch of whingers and anyway, I've heard there's an Indian Summer on the way so don't mothball the barbie just yet.