The Silk Tank, or How to Stay Away from Plastic Flip-flops

It took me a long time to adjust, both physically and psychologically, to the intense heat and sun of the Texas summer. I’m a native midwesterner and before Austin we moved around northern Europe, so the perfect wardrobe in my imagination was a very constructed urban sophisticated look better suited to Londoners. I never had more than one pair of sandals, and snuffed plastic flip-flops, which are standard Austin uniform. I had to let my ideals go and embrace a looser and freer style.

Now Austin is infamously laid back. Sartorial for men here is an occasional button-down to go with one’s shorts. But I have to find a way to stay theatrical and even glamorous-feeling–that’s the challenge. It’s too easy to “dude it” here.

I’ve always loved silk but used to consider it somewhat of a luxury. A couple of summers ago, I bought a few silk pieces, like a sleeveless lightweight crepe dress (which I’m wearing here under the jacket), a flowy charmeuse wrap skirt, and a crepe jumpsuit–and ended up nearly wearing them out. Now I go out of my way to wear silk in the summer. Sure, cotton is great and rayon/viscose can be silk-like, but there’s something about silk… it’s feels so weightless and cool on the skin.

So I’m on a mission to make a few basic tops in silk–my red charmeuse tank is a good excuse not to reach for one of my raggedy Old Navy ones. I should really throw those away….

The fabric was left over from a recent lining and wanted something really simple and breezy, in a kind of a-line shape. Kwik Sew 3795 was a good place to start. I liked the a-line of the pattern but it was very low cut so I had to raise the armholes about 2 inches. You can’t see it here, but the original armhole falls below the bustline. I’m still not sure about the neckline–I think I like a narrower u-shape, and will fiddle with this line before I make another.

The pattern also calls for bias binding on the armholes and neckline but I wanted something dressier and wondered if there was a way to work out a simple facing and googled around. Of course, it seems like I keep finding my sewing solutions over at Sherry’s blog, which has the exact tutorial I needed: sewing an all-in-one facing for neckline and armhole.

Thank goodness for easy projects. Overall, from re-drawing the pattern to cutting and sewing, it took about 4-5 hours. That’s fast for me.

The truth is, most days I just feel like throwing on a tank and some kind of loose trousers. I just want weightlessness–not a lot of straps, no binding clothes or shoes. I can barely handle a neck scarf, no matter how light it is.

I got the idea to pair red and coral from a recent Lucky mag. I’m pretty obsessed with coral in all its shades–it’s turned out to me the perfect summer color for me and when I saw these silk crepe Sonia Rykiel trousers I leapt at them. I’m still trying to figure out if I can wear the carrot pant style; these are so high-waisted and billowy and have massive belt loops. Obviously one has not found the right belt yet because they are falling down!

I’m sure some of you find seasonal dressing pretty natural and would love to hear stories from others who’ve made major climate-moves. I’d wear knee-high lace-up suede boots year round if I could–I’m like a Celt in the desert.


  1. Steph says:

    In Austin, you can really get away with counter-culture and sub-culture dressing… Really, you could get away with just about anything I think. Why not go for the style of clothes you like, but in more suitable fabrics? (Seems to me that’s what you’re doing anyway. :))

    The way people dress here is very, very laid back. To the point of public near-nudity. It’s gross. No shirts, no shoes, visible bra straps and even whole bras exposed for all to see, and don’t get me started on visible sweaty fat rolls. It’s an assault through my retinas every time I leave the house..

    I really, really like this outfit. Coral and red are a win, and silk is SUCH an amazing summer fabric. It’s funny it gets such a reputation for delicacy, because most silk weaves are quite utilitarian… Have you tried some flowy linen pants?

    • Amy says:

      You’re so right, Steph. The thing I like about Austin is no matter what direction you go in, you never feel out of place. I really love jackets, scarves–and particularly vests, but I find I put them aside most of the year. Ha, I don’t think I could take the exposed bra stuff. Is it beach culture there?

      You’ll like this–it’s so Austin–but recently one of our neighbors started a “barefoot yoga running and expression course” out of his house and twice a week there are all these people running barefoot up and down our very beer-bottle-sharded street. I can’t decide who is more fun to watch, them, the runner who wears 80s running gear while singing (very loudly) Def Leppard every other day, or the guy who goes to work on pogo sticks. All on our street. Austin, man. I shouldn’t speak, though, our driveway is littered with circus equipment that my husband collects.

  2. Sherry says:

    Pretty! And I’m glad you found the tutorial helpful!
    I’m like you and need a tank, or camisole for summer – we don’t get that hot here in Auckland but it gets really humid and I can’t stand anything around my neck or arms, or anything manmade except viscose.

    • Amy says:

      Thanks Sherry–you’re like my one-stop solution mall! I imagine humidity being a big deal in Auckland. I have figured out that it’s nice to wear light necklaces and earrings but I can barely wear bracelets.

  3. SewOm says:

    I love silk. Right now, I’m at home, casually dressed in a tank top and a silk slip that I made for wearing under my skirts. In the heat, the silk is so comfortable – I naturally reach for it. I’ll have to make more!

    Your color combo rocks! Shades/tones of red, together, make me happy.

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