Out with the cold and in with the new

Lauren Liang

Goodbye bulky wool sweaters, puffy down jackets and itchy turtlenecks. Goodbye winter advisories, snow, ice and slush. Put away your shovels and salt because summer is near and that means warm weather, picnics and a whole lot less clothing: t-shirts, shorts and sandals. With the icy-cold weather quickly dissipating, and this year’s winterstorms finally behind us, rising temperatures drive us out of hibernation to bask in the sun, enjoy the summer breeze and crave the salty sea. The barren trees will soon be fully in blossom with lush green leaves, and fireflies will fill the heavy, humid air.

In addition to the array of exclusive summer activities, we look forward to summer fashion. Summer attire is just as important as any other season, so forget the gym and your hopes of building the perfect body, and instead get ready to dress in this season’s top five summer essentials.

With the warm weather near, everyone needs a cute bag to tote around that appropriately fits the laid-back aura of summertime. Coming in at number five, think small for the perfect handbag. In fact, the smaller the better. Clean out the unnecessary clutter you carry around and limit yourself to only what you need. In addition to size, skip out on all leather and go for a more casual material. Anything lightweight goes: canvas, cotton twill, straw, plastic and nylon. Le Sportsac makes trendy bags out of nylon in a variety of colors and sizes. Check out the L.A.M.B mini-bag collection at www.lesportsac.com at major department stores. If you want a more personal look, choose a floral, striped, or print bag. They look hot and add a splash of funk to your ensemble. For all of you who absolutely cannot manage a small handbag, look for a satchel or tote style in the same fabrics or patterns. Depending on how much you want to shovel out for the “it” bag, you can either splurge or conserve and still successfully accomplish this summer look.

Number four on the list is a casual, cotton, simple A-line skirt. Forget about floral prints, stripes, or ruffles. This time, stick with neutral colors such as beige, khaki, black, or gray. The cotton material won’t cling to you like saran wrap in humid weather. Slip it on to go grocery shopping or wear it to the beach. This is the easiest solution for those who feel uncomfortable in those ultra feminine skirts and want to look both refined and comfortable. Visit www.hardtailforever.com for a young, vibrant, stylish look. Toss aside your gym shorts and replace them with this flattering, comfy, cotton skirt in any length. You can’t go wrong with this piece.

For number three, this must-have item goes beyond looking hip, but is necessary for protection: sunglasses. From wired frames to plastic to rimless, eyewear makes a powerful statement. Celebrities such as Jackie O. and J Lo have made fashion history with their famous shades. They come in a variety of shapes: round, oval and square with colors galore for both the frame and lenses and a multitude of styles from retro to sporty. Depending on the shape of your face, certain frames will flatter you more than others. For example, angular frames perfectly compliment a round face. They range in prices from inexpensive ($15-$30), to affordable, to top dollar (anything in the three-figure range). To find a style that fits you and your fashion personality, visit your local eyewear store like Sunglass Hut or look online at sites such as www.eyecessorize.com for ideas. Be sure to get this multipurpose accessory for an edgy, sleek, timeless summer look.

The next item everyone should own is the affordable classic fitted cotton tee. Comfortable, lightweight and soft to the touch, these tees go with everything. For a casual look, pair it with shorts; for an afternoon gathering, the t-shirt goes perfectly with a skirt; and in the evening, switch it up with sateen pants.

The simplicity of the tee has endless possibilities, as you can have fun mixing and matching it with bottoms and accessories or even layer it with other shirts. Made in every color imaginable, this season’s hot picks focus on citrus shades – think tangerine, honeydew and pineapple, all delicious and appealing. Expanding beyond the traditional cut, you can purchase these shirts in a scoop neck, v-neck, asymmetrical neck, or off the shoulder look, all found in such shops as Express, Gap and all major department stores. Stock up! This is one item that will never go out of style.

Now for numero uno: when it comes to your feet, flip-flops are the way to go. Forget about stilettos or chunky heels. Flip-flops return every season and now go beyond just beachwear. This season’s designers have created fun, funky looks to spice up your wardrobe. You will find them in assorted fabrics including terry cloth, suede, denim, prints and tons of colors.

Flip-flops come in endless styles, fit with all apparel and provide comfort for your sole. For something a little less casual, look for the thong style in a kitten heel. Or stick with the traditional and extremely comfy rubber ones. Who knew rubber could be so chic? Look for them virtually anywhere, including J.Crew, Gap, or Urban Outfitters. So put away your leather boots, show off your pedicure and let your feet breath this summer in flip-flops.

These five pieces can be put together for a head-to-toe look or worn separately, making them extremely versatile. Go wild and purchase them in bulk because they will never get old. Match them with this season’s trends or mix it up with a personal touch of your own.

Sticking with these summer classics that carry you into Indian summer and next spring, you will remain comfortable and stylish wherever you go. It doesn’t take much to look fabulous and feel great. In the end, it’s all about the top five summer sensations.