Here are my top picks for Must Have Summer Work Clothing to Keep You Cool whether you’re gardening, volunteering for a service project, or working on a building project.

Must Have Summer Work Clothing to Keep You Cool

It’s been a hot and humid summer here in North Carolina. This is nothing new, except this is the first year I’ve been working construction outside all summer. My work outfits have been put to the test and I’m anxious to share my favorites for staying cool with you.

As most of you know, the Nordstrom anniversary sale is going on and everyone seems to be clamoring to grab deals on some fashionable items. As much as I’d like to buy cute outfits, it’s not practical for me to spend money on clothing that will get ruined while working on building back Etta. Instead, I’ve ditched my cute tops and skirts to compile a list of the most cooling clothing and durable gear to get through the hottest of summer heatwaves.

Here at Pretty Handy Girl, we take work and safety gear very seriously, as you’ll remember from my Ms. Safe T DIY Fashion accessories, I don’t write about fashion often, but I do think it’s important to have safe and durable work clothing that will keep you comfortable all day.

(This is a sponsored post for Duluth Trading Company. This post also contains a few affiliate links for non-Duluth Trading Company clothing.  I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

One of my favorite places to purchase work gear is Duluth Trading Company —which  is why I reached out to them to be one of the Saving Etta sponsors. I’ve been buying their clothes for years and appreciate their rugged durability. The designers at Duluth Trading put a lot of thought into creating pieces that move with your body. (And I can tell you, there are lots of body contortions happening when you build a house.) If your clothing can’t flex and move with you while handling the power tools, you’re going to rip them or come home chafed.

No Breeze, It’s Cool

Two summers ago, Duluth Trading Company sent me my first Armachillo Long Sleeve Plaid Shirt to try. They claimed it would keep me cooler than a standard cotton t-shirt. After a week working on my shed during a heat wave, I ordered two more shirts and wore them all summer while working. (It’s worth noting, that Duluth Trading Company changed the design of this shirt to eliminate the mesh openings in the back (but kept the underarm gussets for better arm motion.) Honestly, I didn’t like the appearance of the mesh back flaps, but luckily it seems the shirt is still cool without them.)

Armachillo Long Sleeve Plaid Shirt (Coral Plaid)

The weather in North Carolina can be unpredictable. We had a stretch of weather in late Spring where it was cool in the morning and beautiful all afternoon. On those days I paired an Armachillo Long Sleeve Plaid Shirt with a tank top. The long sleeves gives me extra sun protection on cloudless days.

Armachillo Long Sleeve Plaid Shirt (Royal Blue Plaid)Armachillo Cooling Racerback Tank Top (Aqua)

One hot summer day I had to work on site and then attend the Home for Good Project for media coverage. With only my truck or a port-a-potty available for an outfit change, I decided to wear this blue oasis plaid shirt for both work and the appearance. Luckily I managed to stay cool and clean enough to pull off the media appearance. As a bonus I received two compliments on how pretty my “blouse” was. This shirt is now retired from work because I love it too much to let it get stained or soiled.

Armachillo Long Sleeve Plaid Shirt (Blue Oasis Plaid), Maven Slim Work Jeans by Dovetail Workwear

One more note about the Armachillo plaid shirts; I keep one in my backpack in case I have to crawl under the house, wrestle insulation, or protect my arms from thorns while doing yard work. The shirt folds up into a small space and can hang out at the bottom of my backpack without adding any weight or bulk.

Armachillo Cooling Racerback Tank Top (Ink)Armachillo Long Sleeve Plaid Shirt (Discontinued Color)

Hats Off to My Framer

The first day I met my framer, he pulled out a wide brim straw hat from his truck and wore it the entire day. He swore it was the best way to stay cool by keeping the sun off his neck and shoulders. That was also the day I made the mistake of wearing a black t-shirt and not owning a wide brim hat. I nearly passed out from the heat. The next day I scoured the Duluth Trading website for women’s hats and found this breathable wide brim hat. The first day I wore it on site, my framer winked his eye and said, “I see you listened to my advice on a good hat.”

Armachillo Cooling Racerback Tank Top (Ink), Crushable Sun Hat (Cadet Blue), and Dry on the Fly Convertible Pants (Smoky Tan)

Revealing Just Enough Skin

My least favorite part of this job is climbing ladders all day. By 3pm, the heat and activity has started to turn my brain to mush. It’s enough to make a person want to strip down and go naked. Luckily, I discovered the Armachillo clothing by Duluth Trading Company. The Armachillo line has a unique “Made-in-the-Jade™ technology”. Every fiber is infused with microscopic jade that dissipates heat on contact and is sewn into the clothing. Which is why this Armachillo racerback tank top is my favorite work shirt. The tank top lets the breeze hit my arms, but is modest enough to hide any side boob or cleavage. The waist band has enough hold to keep the tank top from riding up, and it also provides a looser fit around my middle section (which is more forgiving for a “curvaceous” figure.)

I bet you’ve never felt the true effects of “heat rises” unless you’ve installed blocking for a light fixture at the top of a fourteen foot ceiling.  It was already close to 93F outside, the air in the rafters must have been over 100F. I was extremely glad I chose to wear my racerback tank top that day.

Armachillo Cooling Racerback Tank Top (Deep Jade), Dry on the Fly Convertible Pants (Smoky Tan)

I don’t usually wear shorts on the job site. I’m more likely to scrape or cut up my knees or shins and I hate my legs (even without bruises). But, any day that threatens to reach 95F or higher, I wear shorts. Luckily I found my favorite lightweight work pants in a short style. Air flow on sweaty skin is key to staying cool on a hot and humid day. Installing the 118 year old reclaimed siding material on the porch ceiling was a labor of love. It took me all week to scrape the paint, seal them, hang, and caulk the seams. I managed to stay cool, but unfortunately I scraped up my shin in front of the entire crew of framers working next door. Luckily I kept my cool (Get it? Kept cool. LOL.)

Women’s Dry on the Fly Shorts (Gray), Armachillo Cooling Racerback Tank Top (Aqua)

These cute overall shorts were a godsent while working on ladders. All the pockets and the hammer loop allowed me to stuff my pockets with nails and hang my hammer instead of wearing a bulky tool belt. Speaking of staying cool, Keen sent me a pair of their Atlanta cool steel-toed breathable work shoes to try. This pair has been on my feet every day on site. They are several years old but are holding up wonderfully. Besides keeping my feet from getting too sweaty, the soles offer great grip when climbing up roof slopes.

Heirloom Gardening Overall ShortsNo Yank Tank Cami (Dark Coral)Stay-Put Lightweight Ankle Socks, Keen Atlanta Cool Steel-Toed Shoes

One of the least glamorous jobs of being a general contractor is picking up after the subcontractors. The day before insulation was installed, I crawled under the house to remove any construction debris left behind. Gloves are a necessity in any crawlspace. They protect your hands from rocks and construction debris and let you swipe away cob webs.

Another necessity is a good bra. It was apparent that my regular underwire bras were going to get destroyed from all the sweat and demolition dirt. Plus, they chafed my sides as I bent and stretched all day long. I started wearing jog bras, but most of them didn’t provide much support. I found the Hellrassiere Medium Support Work Bra and thought it was a mirage. The bra is comfortable and offers much better support than a stretchy jog bra. (One note: They run large, so be sure to order one size smaller.)

Women’s All Season Work GlovesArmachillo Cooling Racerback Tank Top (Peony), Hellrassiere Medium Support Work Bra (black)

Somehow my favorite lightweight work pants evaded a picture. The Flextra Tough Slim Leg Work Pants are flattering but also have hidden mesh in the yoke and knees to keep the air flowing on hot days. You can also slip knee pads into the front pockets to protect your knees on those days you’re crawling around a lot.

I hope my list gave you some helpful recommendations should you find yourself outside working in the garden, on a service project, hiking, camping, or on a construction site. If you’re also a Duluth Trading Company fan, I’d love to know your favorite Duluth apparel!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Duluth Trading Company. I was not told what to write or say about Duluth Trading Company. I am very particular about the brands that I partner with. If I don’t love them, I don’t promote them. I will also always disclose when you are reading a sponsored post.

SMOKE DETECTORS | What you don't know could kill you

Okay, now that I have your attention, did you know that approximately every three hours, a home fire death occurs somewhere in our nation. And 66 % of those occur in homes without working smoke alarms or detectors?* The most common reason those detectors weren’t working? Worn out or removed battery.

Photo from – courtesy of WickedChimp

I’m sure you have heard that you need to replace your detector batteries every time you change your clocks (Spring and Fall or every 6 months.) Are you good about doing that ? If not, I hope you will now. At the very least decide on a date to change your smoke detector batteries annually.

What about when you are vacationing? Do you test the smoke detectors in your rental house? Testing the detectors takes all of a few minutes to press the “Test” button on each detector and wait for the alarm to sound.

Don’t rely on the vacation homeowner to check the alarms. There is always a chance that renters could have removed a low battery from a detector. Several years ago there was a horrible fire a few blocks away from the beach house we usually rent. Seven young students died in the fire. It was never determined whether the smoke detectors were working or not, but one of the survivors didn’t remember hearing any go off. Don’t let yourself become a statistic.

What type of smoke detector should you buy? Read more

Pantry with Coffee Bar and Hidden Wine Storage | Pretty Handy Girl

Table Saw Safety Guidelines | Pretty Handy Girl

Friends, it’s Nick from over at The Sawdust Maker! A site devoted to helping others take their woodworking skills to the next level. While I am in the middle a joint series on my website, I wanted to take a minute to talk to you about table saw safety.

The table saw is the most used tool in my shop. It also happens to be the most intimidating tool for most beginners to use. So lets get a grasp on these basic safety guidelines to follow.

Before we dive into this, I want to urge you to find your table saw manual and read it. Wait, what? Yes people… actually read these things. It will cover the basic safety rules as well as any safety features specific to your saw.

Now, before you turn your saw on, do the following:

  • Make sure you’re not wearing loose fitting clothes. This doesn’t mean you need to wiggle into your skinny jeans… just make sure nothing is accessible for the blade or work material to catch.
  • If you are wearing long sleeves, roll them up past your elbow’s.
  • Keep shirt pockets free of items.
  • Remove any jewelry.
  • Wear non-skid, well fitting shoes… last thing you want is to slip or trip into the blade!
  • If your hair is long, pull it up into a ponytail.
  • Wear ear and eye protection.
  • Don’t operate while tired or under the influence. Keep those creative juices for your design process!
  • Unplug your machine and do the following:
    • Visually check your saw for damaged components:
      • Check the power cord
      • Check the Blade
        • Look for Gum or Pith on the blade, clean it if it is dirty.
        • Check the carbide and make sure it isn’t chipped or missing teeth.
        • Keep it sharp. It is a lot cheaper than replacing them and will help keep those burn marks down!
      • Check to make sure that the guards, splitter, riving knife are in place and free of damage.
    • Check the alignment of the fence, ensuring it is parallel with the blade. A quick reference is to line it up with the t-slot and visual check to see if it is aligned.
    • Ensure the blade is tight.
    • Check the belts for excessive wear.
    • Check the alignment of the splitter/riving knife.
    • Is there enough room around you for the board you are wanting to cut? There is nothing more annoying than getting part way through a cut and realizing that you don’t have enough room to finish the cut!

DIY Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Off Feed Table

Now we are almost ready to cut a board! Here are some things to keep in mind when stepping up to the whirling beastly hunk of iron.

  • Keep the splitter and riving knife in place at all times to help prevent dangerous kickback.
  • Use a table saw blade guard whenever possible, this will help keep your fingers out and dangerous wood chips/knots in.
  • Lower the blade below the table surface when the saw is not in use.
  • The table saw blade height should be set so that the carbide teeth of the blade extend a little beyond the height of the work piece. Between 1/4 – 3/8”.
  • Don’t reach over or behind the table saw blade.
  • Never position your hands or fingers in the path of the table saw blade.
  • Keep a 4-6” margin of safety all the way around your table saw blade. This is a DO NOT ENTER zone!!!!
  • Never back a board out of a cut.
  • Cutting a bevel? Place the rip fence on the side opposite of the bevel cut. (see below)

Table Saw Safety Guidelines | Pretty Handy Girl

  • Know what you are cutting into to avoid nails, loose knots, etc.
  • Always have additional out feed support in place at the back of the saw table.
  • Don’t release the work piece until it is all the way past the back of the table saw blade.
  • Don’t cut stacked material.
  • Keep your work area clean. It would be a shame if those scraps sitting in front of your saw caused you to face plant into your saw.
  • Unplug the saw when you are changing the blade.
  • Do not stand behind the blade or the work piece. Trust me, if a board is going to kickback, it will come out of there like a bullet. Last thing you want to do is stand in its flight path!
  • Use a push board, stick (GRR-Ripper) when making rip cuts narrower than 6 in.

Ways to Prevent Kickback

  • Don’t use the miter gauge and the rip fence together. This is a guaranteed invitation for the board to bind and kickback.
  • Use the miter gauge or a sled for all crosscutting and the rip fence for ripping.
  • Never rip wood that is twisted, warped or doesn’t have at least one straight edge.
  • Don’t saw a piece freehand.
  • Use a sliding table for cutting large sheet goods or cut down to a manageable size with a track saw, panel saw. There are several ways to accomplish this. You can clamp a board down to the sheet good and use that as a straight edge for your circular saw.
  • Use feather boards when ripping.
  • Use zero clearance inserts not only will this help keep your cuts crisp, it will also help keep small pieces of wood from meeting your pretty face. Again trust me, getting hit in the face with a loose knot is not fun.
  • Use the proper blade for the job, Most of us use a combination blade. which is good for both ripping and cutting boards. Don’t know your blades? Check out my post here. I did an in depth tutorial on selecting blades.
  • Don’t overfeed your blade. If you are bogging down your saw, you are probably pushing your workpiece through your saw too fast. This is another way to have a board kick back.

Pantry with Coffee Bar and Hidden Wine Storage | Pretty Handy Girl

I found that a lot of individuals are nervous to operate a table saw for the first time. I get it… there is something about hearing the motor start, seeing the blade spin and feeling the wind off the blade. If you feel this way, find someone knowledgeable to supervise and practice!

I know this is a lot of information all at once. But if you respect your investment, keep it tuned up, keep your body parts away from the blade and get out of the way from those flying parts… all that’s left is to go out have FUN!!!! and build something today.

Thanks, It has been an honor to borrow Brittany’s platform today!


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Read these Table Saw Safety and Guidelines to help keep you and your fingers safe! | Power tool safety | Pretty Handy Girl #prettyhandygirl #powertoolsafety #tablesawsafety

You may remember when we created our Summer calendar and bucket list. The boys really responded well to being able to see what was coming up on the calendar. And I enjoyed not having to pull up my Google Calendar on the computer whenever I was put on the spot for a play date. So, continuing to use a calendar in the kitchen was a no brainer. But, creating new calendars on poster board each month — although fun — seemed a bit tedious.

In a sheer stroke of genius suggested by Pretty Handsome Guy I decided to paint a chalkboard calendar on our fridge: Read more

I realized recently that I haven’t given any updates on our adoption of Pretty Handy Dog (aka Buddy.) I’m happy to say that Buddy has been with us for a year and a half now, and he has adjusted to living with us (crazy boys and all) just fine. After the first year, he began to truly show us his personality. He can be goofy and wrestle and run around like a maniac once in a while. But, normally, this is how he rolls:

He rolls into a tight ball and snores like a sailor! He’s also what you call a velcro dog and doesn’t let me out of his sight. We’ve heard from sitters that after I leave, Buddy will pace and cry by the door. When the sitter asks the kids if Buddy needs to go to out they answer, “No, he’s just crying because he wants Mommy.” Ahh, another Momma’s Boy ;-).

With the weather being in the 100’s here in NC, I’ve resorted to walking Buddy at night. Actually, I’m normally a night walker. On these nighttime excursions, I wear a reflector vest for myself, but I always worried that cars have a hard time seeing my mostly black dog. So, I thought it would be a good idea to make him his own dog safety clothing. A reflective bandana seemed like the perfect idea. Read more