August is the hottest month, and I'm not talking about average ambient temperature. I'm talking about you and what you do to men in the feverish weeks leading up to Labor Day. Our resolve weakened by months of heat, otherwise productive members of society are reduced to paroxysms of want by a backless dress, or bare legs dotted by drops of condensation from a tall, cold beer.

You may be aware of this effect, but I doubt you appreciate the extent: It deserves its own seasonal affective disorder. And the worst cases can be traced to the sundress. Wear one now, and it says something about you: In a month when sartorial ambition is reduced to a set of subtropical survival skills — tube tops, with their pendulous plunges, short shorts that ride up like a junior-high wedgie — you put on a dress and shoes more complicated than a rubber thong wedged between your toes. This outfit reveals not only your body, but also how comfortable you are with it, and from there, it's a perilously short trip to envisioning what you'd do with it.

Especially if tan lines are involved; I've been known to lose my grip at the early-evening sight of them, innocent mojitos plunging to their patio deaths. That contrasting stripe, climbing over your shoulder from parts unknown — unknown to me, certainly — is a tease in the best sense, giving the slightest suggestion of how you'd be in your altogether. In these stifling days of late summer, how you make the most of things is a clue to who you are and what you'd be like lingering over a glass of chilled rosé — if I didn't have to get home to my family for dinner.

What Do You Think?