Cool Outfits in the Hottest Places – Part I

It has been an absolute scorcher here in Los Angeles the past couple of days.  Think giant blowdryer in Spaceballs hot.  With the temperature nearing 100 degrees yesterday and my poor little window units chugging along, I began thinking about those who thrive in places even hotter than my baking neighborhood.  And most importantly, what they wear to stay cool.

1) Lut Desert (Dasht-e Lut), Iran – 159 degrees F

So hot that even milk can’t spoil because bacteria can’t survive the extreme heat.  Home to the world’s tallest dunes and miles of salted sand you could fry an egg on.  No really, you could literally fry an egg on the surface in summer.

What they wore: invisibility cloaks.  There are no accounts of native inhabitants that I am aware of, though brave adventurers do make the trek every now and again.

Lut Desert tracks




2) Queensland, Australia – 156 degrees F

The Australian badlands.  Violent crime and poor soil run amuck in the hottest and driest part of central west Queensland.  Farmers, miners, indigenous Australians, and horse race aficionados make up the 12,000+ population of the QLD outback.

What they wore: white cotton shirts and panama hats were the norm at a bar during the 1961 Betoota Races (incidentally now a defunct ghost town).

Betoota Queensland

Betoota, QLD Australia by David Moore Photography


And full length white cotton dresses in Barcaldine:

Barcaldine Queensland

Barcaldine, QLD. (


3) Turpan Depression, China – 152 degrees

Thanks to an extensive underground irrigation system known as the Karez, the hottest and driest area in China and the third lowest land elevation in the world is actually quite populated.

What they wore: although methinks this may be a reenactment for tourist purposes:

the inhabitants of Turpan do wear lots of colorful floral dresses and wield necessary parasols while up on dry land.


4) El Azizia (Azizya), Libya – 136 degrees

While El Azizia has volatile temperatures, arid land, and a distant oasis, that certainly doesn’t stop 280,000+ people from living there.  The capital of the Jafara district is bumping; serving as a major trade route between the Mediterranean coast and southern Libya.

What they wore: blousy cotton and woven textiles designed to keep the sun out and movement free.

El Azizia Nomads

Nomads west of El Azizia in 1957 by kilian.3158 on Flickr


5) Death Valley, USA – 134 degrees

The lowest and hottest place in the United States houses little more than tourists and National Park employees.  Although the Native American Timbisha tribe have made Death Valley their home for more than 1000 years.  Located in Eastern California and within the Mojave Desert, Death Valley was a lucrative business for Gold Rush prospectors and yielded mountains of gold, silver, and borax.

What they wore: the native Timbisha Tribe kept it fashionable in the ’50s with floral print cotton dresses, woven textiles, sunglasses, and wide-brimmed hats.  Park Rangers donned more rugged outfits to manage the temperature fluctuations from day to night, while still looking official.

Timbisha Shoshone Tribe

Timbisha Shoshone Tribe (

Death Valley Vintage

(Park Ranger at Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley in 1950s. Mark A. Holloway on Flickr)


*Hottest places on earth taken from  Some are contended and even discounted by the World Meteorological Organization due to inaccuracy (El Azizia).  All temperatures posted are highest ever recorded, not the average.

More hotness to come in Part II.

Stay cool.


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