Before I got my call, I was convinced I was going to be the cutest sister missionary ever. I was going to find the cutest clothes and create the most tasteful outfits. I was going to get scarves and jewelry galore to spice up my outfits, as well as about 10 pairs of oxford shoes and the most trendy boots.
Then I got called to Nicaragua.
If you don't know anything about Central America, let me give you a quick rundown. It hardly ever gets below 70 degrees and usually during the day it's somewhere in the high 80s to mid 90s. All year. The only seasons in Nicaragua are wet and dry. Humidity is also outrageous. Infrastructure is primitive, and there are a lot of dirt roads. It's extremely tropical and overflowing with bugs and vegetation. So my mission is like a mid summer hike--all the time.
Don't get me wrong, I would take heat over cold any day, and I'm super excited regardless, but "professional", "cute", and "tasteful" were no longer priority. I still made those a part of my decisions, but they weren't the main reasons why I chose what I chose. It took me awhile to finally realize that my dreams of being an adorable little missionary were not coming true.
In the end though, I'm not headed to a place where people need to be impressed by how clean cut I appear and how pretty my clothes are to be comfortable talking to me. These are humble people. If anything they would be turned off by faddish, expensive-looking clothing.
So if anyone else is having trouble wondering what clothing that will work in the heat, let me offer a few pieces of knowledge I've gained:
1. Shirts: Keep them short sleeve (duh), pick materials you'll feel comfortable sweating in (I like synthetics but others like cotton-poly mixes better), and pick cuts and fabrics that don't require undershirts--you'll already be wearing garments underneath so don't add anything else to that mix. I'm going to be wearing a lot of solid colored shirts that I can mix and match with simple skirts.
2. Skirts: Pick flowy skirts that allow air movement and pick fabrics that are light and will dry quickly. Also don't buy skirts you'll have to iron, not worth it. Especially if it rains where you're going. I got most of my skirts from Modcloth and Asos.
3. Shoes: Sperrys. Saved. My. Life. They are high quality, comfortable, cute, are good in wet weather, last forever. They are more spendy, but so worth it. They also have waterproof boots--that aren't made of rubber (YESS). I also bought two pairs of shoes from a store called Walking Comfort (There's one in Draper and Orem if you live in Utah). They have some really cute comfortable shoes, and they give a 20% missionary discount, which is super great because it's pricey. Also make sure to slowly break in your shoes before you leave so you won't have a ton of blisters from brand new shoes when you go.
4. Accessories: The only thing I'm bringing is a watch, a few pairs of simple earrings so my ear holes won't close, and a few simple necklaces for nice occasions. Everything else adds more fabric (scarves, hats, cute tights) which is a no no, or simply adds more hassle. Normally the hassle is worth looking cute, but not when I'm going hiking in 90 degree weather.
The key is to buy clothes that are going to be flattering. That's pretty much all you have going for you since fancy shirts and cute little boots don't work well in the heat and for hiking.
Good luck on your search for the cute, cool, and comfy! Let me know what other tips you have!
And just for fun, here's where I bought my stuff:
Asos -- Free shipping and returns on the cutest midi skirts and dresses that exist. Need I say more?
Nordstrom -- Also free shipping and free returns.
Sperry Top Sider
Modcloth -- Super cute vintage-vibe clothing.
Eddie Bauer -- Not the cutest or cheapest in the world but great for sisters wanting quality clothes for extreme conditions. I found an adorable waterproof rain jacket there!
Sister Missionary Mall... ashamed but yes. I found one really classy and comfortable dress.
J. Crew (More specifically J. Crew Factory... Yay for outlets!)
Nike Outlets - For all the modest exercise clothing.
GoLite - I got a light backpack there and ordered a backpack rain cover from MountainSmith on Amazon.
I'm going to try and eventually post pictures of my outfits with links to where I bought my stuff. We'll see if I get that done :)
Thanks for all your support!