Forget the stereotype that entering menopause means embracing a chapter of shapeless sweaty nightgowns devoid of all personal style.
Although it might be a time of hormonal imbalance that often includes sudden heat and excessive sweating (80% of women experience this), you can manage your hot flushes and still be comfortable and stylish by simply choosing the right clothes.
Picking and combining comfortable and light items to wear -such as drawstring trousers, tunic tops, buttoned shirts and loose, floaty skirts or dresses– may be good options, as well as dressing in layers can help you respond quickly and with a minimum of fuss when your internal thermostat goes up and down.
However, when it comes to tackling hot flushes and night sweats, it’s also important to choose breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics.
Choose fabrics wisely
Knowing the properties of different materials can help you feel cool and stylish before, during and after a hot flush.
In general, it’s best to go for a natural, breathable material, such as linen, hemp, bamboo (hypoallergenic, antibacterial and moisture-wicking), avoid wearing silk (which it’s lightweight but it does watermark), and sometimes even cotton (it doesn’t keep moisture away from your body, instead, it may cling to it).
Much to our surprise, according to personal stylist Alarna Hope, lightweight wool might be a good choice, too.
The key to breathable wool is lightweight and loosely woven wool, I personally have strong feelings for Merino wool, because it will keep you cool and allow air to circulate around you – she says-. It doesn’t retain odours but we just have to be a little more careful when washing it. Avoid wool that has acrylic in it, as this will make you feel hot and scratchy.
Despite what many women assume, she also suggests some synthetic fabrics may be worth considering. In this case, it has to be poly-cotton which combines the breathability of cotton and the fast-drying attributes of polyester, making hot flushes that are particularly sweaty less visible.
Lyocell is also an interesting fabric for ladies suffering from intense hot flushes. It’s strong, long-lasting fibre and uses cellulose-based materials. Like linen and hemp, it’s fast-drying, 50% more absorbent than cotton, and provides a lot of versatility.
Some style strategies
Once you’ve found your favourite fabric, you may also want to shift your wardrobe in subtle ways.
I’ve found that anything I can waft around in is a winner- says Alyson Walsh, founder of That’s Not My Age – I love fluid dresses with lots of movement and always opt for natural, breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, and silk. I’ve now switched from signature grey marl T-shirts to open-neck oversized pieces from Arket, COS, and Everlane.
She also avoids oversized necklaces, which can make her feel “clammy and sweaty,” and instead opt for statement earrings. “They’re such an easy and inexpensive way to give your outfit a pick-me-up.”
Stylist and dressmaker Gill Cockwell would also add a winning accessory to the everyday look: a little silk scarf.
A pure silk scarf can be a helpful item to have in your wardrobe – she advises-. Scarves are fabulous for adding a splash of colour to an outfit and great for covering a flushed neck and chest if you feel the need. It’s an easy, small, lightweight, item to keep in your handbag in case you ever feel the need for it and wrapping it around your neck may help make you feel warmer if you suffer from chills after a flush.
Above all, experts all agree on the importance of avoiding clothes in grey marl (as well as bright colours): they have the habit of showing dark patches. If underarm sweat becomes a significant problem, you can find sweat protectors at haberdashers or online that you can stitch into your clothes.