Summer Soiree: 6 Looks Inspired by the Ancient Solar Terms
As you sink into those balmy nights and cheerful days, release your adventurous side with a flourish of color and shine. For every vacation, party, and spontaneous road trip, there's a Solar Term-inspired look to inspire your creativity.
Wild? Creative? Experimental? Romantic? Summer is the season and reason to glow and grow.
The 24 Solar Terms
We talked about the Spring Solar Terms in a previous blog, but in case you need a quick refresh about the 24 Solar Terms, they're an ancient Chinese calendar used to measure time while living in harmony with nature.
This calendar wasn't a crude way to measure time—it guided agricultural production, directed folk customs, and even the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1912) would pray for good weather, peace, and prosperity at the Temple of Heaven every Winter Solstice. Today, the Solar Terms are still recognized, though some of the folk customs have since died out.
The Six Solar Terms of Summer
Each solar term look is inspired by a seasonal flower. Think soft pinks, fresh greens, and swathes of pore blurring blush. If you're a sun-kissed look lover, you're in luck—you can turn up each look to ten in color and brightness! If you love the color palette but you're more of a minimalist, a light hand is all you need.
立夏, The Beginning of Summer
立夏 (lì xià) is the first summer solar term and starts around 5 May. A busy time for tea farms, this is the season for picking tea and rice transplanting. One custom that still exists today is the eating of eggs, which were believed to protect people (especially children) from health issues in hot weather.
This Lixia look was inspired by the full blooms of the Chinese peony. Its Chinese name is 芍药花 (sháo yào huā).
小满, Small Full
小满 (xiǎo mǎn) literally means "small full" or "lesser fullness," In the north of China, it describes summer crops that have developed but not yet matured. In the south, it refers to the increased flow in rivers and waterfalls, as the weather becomes quite humid with regular rain.
This Xiaoman look was inspired by the Asiatic apple tree (海棠, hǎi táng), which produces beautiful white and pink flowers (depending on the variety) and sweet-and-sour crab apples during August and September.
芒种, Grain in Ear
芒种 (máng zhǒng) signifies the maturing of crops and rising temperatures. Rainfall is abundant, and the humid summer is in full swing. During this time, the busy farming season reaches its peak, and people boil green plums. These nutrient-rich fresh plums are bitter and sour, and boiling them makes them more palatable.
This Mangzhong look was inspired by honeysuckle (金银花, jīn yín huā), which is often used in Chinese medicine.
夏至, Summer Solstice
夏至 (xià zhì) marks the longest day and shortest night of the year around the 21 June. With the official arrival of a hot summer, large rainfall is expected, as well as thunderstorms. This is the time to eat noodles (from the newly harvested wheat), lychee, and bitter melon. In Chinese medicine, bitter foods are believed to have health benefits.
This Xiazhi look was inspired by the gardenia flower (栀子花, zhī zǐ huā), which has shiny green leaves and fragrant white flowers.
小暑, Minor Heat
小暑 (xiǎo shǔ) means "minor heat" and occurs around 7 July.This minor heat signifies rising temperatures, but the hottest time has yet to come. During this period, thunderstorms and rain are frequent, and crops experience rapid growth.
As you might have guessed, this Xiaoshu look was inspired by the lotus (荷花, hé huā), which flourishes in high temperatures.
大暑, Major Heat
大暑 (dà shǔ) means "major heat." This is the last solar term of the summer, but it doesn't mean summer is over! Natural phenomena are taken to the extreme with scorching temperatures, high rainfall, and very frequent thunderstorms (in some parts of north China).
This look was inspired by the crape myrtle (荷花, zǐ wēi), which thrives in hot, humid climates with regular rain and stays brilliantly colorful until fall.