Bonus: They double as sun protection.
How do you look cute, comfortable, and covered in the scorching heat?!
This was one of the first questions I asked myself after accepting an invitation to a culinary tour of Jordan with the small-group adventure company Explore Worldwide. Scheduled to depart May 10, 2023, the 7-day Taste of Jordan Petra + Wadi Rum tour would have us eating our way through the country’s stunningly diverse landscapes, including a Bedouin cooking class in Petra, street snacks in an Amman souk, and traditional Zarb dinner in Wadi Rum. Sounded delicious! And hot—Jordan is a Muslim, Middle Eastern country, which meant, as a woman traveler, I was advised to dress modestly (no shorts, no tank tops, and head/shoulder coverings in mosques.) Per the tour’s climate brief on Explore Worldwide’s website, “April to November days are generally sunny and hot without rain with temperatures around 32°C”—that’s about 89.6°F, for anyone who needs a high school metrics refresher.
Generally, the hotter it is here in the States, the less clothing I wear. I’d have to get creative packing for Jordan and swap my summer uniform of bike shorts and exercise dresses for billowy maxi dresses, breezy pants, and breathable, sweat-stain-resistant tops.
My suitcase was a success, if I do say so myself. I felt cute, appropriately covered, and most importantly, comfortable, on every leg of the tour, be it hiking up to the monastery in Petra or floating in the Dead Sea. Given the current heatwave sweeping America, I figured I’d share my packing list here; aside from being breezy and airflow-friendly, all of the “modest” clothes I packed for Jordan double as sun protection from the harsh UV rays. Here’s to staying (and looking) cool in this heat, no matter how long this heatwave lasts or where your summer takes you.
Day 1: Ajloun + Amman
Our first full day was a blend of exploring the northern part of the country in Ajloun, which is known for its incredibly fertile soil that’s home to olive groves, vineyards, and more Jordanian agriculture, then taking a walking tour of Amman, the country’s capital and largest city.
My middle-school self was reeling because, for the first time in my life, I needed an outfit that could go from day to night—something Cosmo had convinced me would happen every day as an adult! Moreover, that outfit needed to be 1) breezy enough that I wouldn’t become a puddle of sweat during the daytime part of our tour and 2) conservative enough for me to respectfully wander around Amman later that evening.
I opted to go with some Everlane staples I had packed: the drapey City Jumpsuit ($80), a relaxed romper that hits the shins in a culotte style, paired with the Clean Silk Short-Sleeve Notch Shirt ($140) that’s easily one of the airiest shirts I own. Since the jumpsuit is sleeveless, I wanted to cover up my shoulders without making myself overheat. The boxy button-up is made from 100-percent eco-friendly silk that’s featherlight. It’s one of the best layering staples I brought on the trip, and is so versatile, I plan on wearing it all summer long here in the States.
As for footwear, I spent the entire time in Jordan in only two pairs of shoes, one of which is the Veja Fitz Roy hiking sneakers ($108), which didn’t give me a single blister—even after walking 20,000 steps in one day. From the photo, you can’t even tell they’re hiking sneakers; they look like a cute pair of white-and-pink tennis shoes. But the bottom has a super grippy outsole that made navigating Ajloun’s rocky terrain easy, while the tough outer shell protected my toes from stubs and inevitable trips.
If you’ve ever wanted to go from “day to night” like your Seventeen magazine told you to, these Everlane essentials will get the job done, and feel amazing doing it.
Day 2: Dana Nature Preserve
Our second day was a little easier to dress for since we’d be going on a 2-hour hike at the Dana Nature Preserve before visiting Shobak Castle, the first of Jordan’s crusader castles. In the city, it wasn’t recommended that women wear leggings or anything super tight out of respect for the country’s culture and to prevent unwanted attention from strangers. But our guide insisted shorts or leggings would be just fine for outdoor activities.
I opted to go with my Lululemon Base Pace Tights ($59)—which are designed for running but are great for hiking, walking, and hanging out in nonetheless—with my all-time favorite T-shirt: Alex Crane’s Sun Tee ($65).
I have three of these T-shirts and they are undoubtedly the best type of tee I own; I implore anyone who reads this to buy one, especially in the dog days of summer. Why? Because they feel like an ocean breeze in T-shirt form. They swap cotton for French organic linen that’s simultaneously airy and plush against skin, never stiff or scratchy. Since it’s linen, it doesn’t get too hot or stuffy in the heat, nor does it cling to sweat the way other materials do. It is the perfect “lived-in” top, especially if you like that slightly oversized, relaxed look; part of why I brought it was because I knew it would cover my butt while I was hiking as a little extra coverage on the trails. Get one (or three like me) and see what I mean.
Day 3: Petra
If there’s one, do-it-all investment dress you buy this season, please make it Brochu Walker’s Havanna Dress ($328). Yes, it’s a splurge—that $328 tag is tough to swallow. But you will live in this dress, and get so many compliments while you do it!
I wore mine on the day we went to Jordan’s very own Wonder of the World, Petra, the famous archaeological site known for its rosy-colored cliffs and intricate sandstone facades. While I knew the Lost City of Petra was just that—a “lost” city—I didn’t realize how big and sprawling the site actually is. Petra is enormous—it spans more than 100 square miles over mountains, through canyons, and into deserts. We only had about a day to explore which, as you can imagine, entailed a lot of walking in the hot, Jordanian sun.
I opted for my Brochu Walker dress knowing it would provide me maximum airflow with minimum bare skin. Paired with my hiking shoes and a floppy hat my Dad lent to me before I boarded the plane, I was as happy as a clam (camel?) exploring this awe-inspiring historical site, and cool as a cucumber to boot. I can’t say enough about this dress; it’s colorful, flowy, and fun, designed to be an everyday essential you can dress up or down for any occasion. For the price, it better be versatile, and after wearing it in arguably one of the harshest places I’ve ever been weather-wise, I can confirm that it does not disappoint.
Day 4: Wadi Rum
After we had our minds blown in Petra we had the little left of our minds blown away again the next day, during our visit to Wadi Rum. Also known as “Valley of the Moon,” this spectacular desert looks like Mars (which is why it’s been featured in intergalactic films like Dune and The Martian).
The counterintuitive thing about deserts is you need to cover up. Otherwise, your skin will fry and you’ll be pricklier than a cactus. Plus, desert climates are unpredictable. One minute, you’re drowning in a puddle of your sweat, but as soon as that sun goes down, you’re left shivering and begging for a wool blanket. And don’t forget all the sand! Which, in a place like Wadi Rum, can get whipped in your face by the wind or, in my case, the Jeeps we were driving around in on our tour.
For this, I grabbed my trusty Dad Hat and threw on my FP Movement Inspire Tee ($38) and my comfy Free People Timko Pants ($128) for a sun-protective, sand-defensive desert lewk. This cropped cotton tee is fabulous, is less than $40, and comes in a rainbow of fun colors—highly recommend it if you want a one-and-done T-shirt that goes with literally everything.
But it’s honestly the pants that have my heart. These are “cool-girl” pants, and while I don’t think of myself as a “cool” girl, I certainly felt like one wearing them. The Timkos are loose, lower-rise, and breezy, cut with a slight taper at the ankle that gives them a relaxed look. Not “hard pants” and not leggings, I’d categorize them as sweatpants, sans the fleece lining. The worn, acid-washed-esque cotton terry is so comfortable and enjoyable to wear (even in the summer sun), giving them a lounge feel even when you’re not anywhere near the couch. The cherry on top? The pockets! There are so many pockets, including two back slip pockets and two deep pockets at the sides with flap closures, which was such a game-changer on my Jeep tour. I stuffed my SPF, lip balm, wallet, and phone in both of them, eliminating the need for a purse. I didn’t have to worry about anything falling out while we were ripping through canyons and over dunes—the flaps snap close, so everything was safe and sound.
On this day I also swapped my hiking sneakers for Forsake’s Rogue Unisex Sandals ($85), a chunky adventure sandal that’s made to withstand all the elements. Being an outdoorsy gal, I’ve tested a lot of “hiking sandals” and can wholeheartedly say these are some of the best ones I wore. The thick midsole—which is made from algae and EVA foam—is heavenly to walk on, be it over wooded trails, slippery river rock, or scalding hot sand. I particularly love the padded heel strap which feels like a hug for feet, as well as the adjustable toe straps which can be customized to your liking. If you’ve been on the hunt for a hiking sandal that’s *actually* comfortable and will protect your feet for whatever you throw at it, these are for you.
Day 5: Dead Sea
For our last day in Jordan, we packed up our stuff in Wadi Rum and drove four hours north for a float in the world-famous Dead Sea. Similar to the hike, tourists aren’t expected to cover up while they swim—your favorite bathing suit will be just fine. For me, this meant my cherry red Negative Swim Straight One-Piece ($160) that looks like something out of Wendy Peffercorn’s lifeguard wardrobe. This minimalist one-piece has been one of my go-to’s since I got it last summer (and for as much as I’ve worn it, it looks good as new.)
Being in a Muslim country, I personally didn’t feel comfortable wandering around the resort in just my bathing suit. When I went inside for lunch or when I needed to go find the bathroom, I covered up with my Wilfred Free Lodge Linen Pants ($88) and matching button-down top from Aritizia. While I didn’t get to snap a photo, trust me when I say they are simultaneously very cute and very lightweight, and could easily be worn as my regular pants on any of the aforementioned adventures.