I’m usually more of a fan of fall and winter clothing no matter what time of year (hence the title of this blog), because I believe there’s so much more room to be stylish. In 50˚ weather, you can pair a button-up blouse with a pair of vintage high waisted jeans, some thick speckle-knit socks and some leather ankle boots without breaking a sweat. If temperatures drop, you have the option of adding a scarf or a crocheted hat with a thrifted denim jacket. But in the summer, there are only so many layers you can peel off to keep cool, and eventually you sacrifice style for comfort. There are some summer styles I enjoy however. You almost can’t go wrong with a maxi-anything. And a cute and cozy pair of sandals is key in showing off that fresh pastel-colored pedicure. Fall staples like jean jackets can even be incorporated into spring and summer looks as needed. I think the most important part of styling for warmer weather is to not be boring or lazy. No matter how sweltering the heat may be, an old cropped top with jean (or worse, basketball) shorts and a pair of dingy flip-flops does not a summer outfit make!
But deviating from that uniform warm weather look can be quite difficult. If you’re stuck in the flip-flop rut, I have a few words of advice for you: think summer camp. Whether you spent a few weeks sleeping in a cabin by the lake, or your parents sent you off to the YMCA every day, camp was probably a part of at least one of your summers between kindergarten and high school. I personally enjoyed months of blinding sun, embroidery string friendship bracelets, daily trips to the pool (which, as you can imagine did wonders for my hair), art projects made out of popsicle sticks, endless games of four-square, batting my eyelashes at cute boys from other schools, the unavoidable box braids, watching back-to-back episodes of Disney’s Bug Juice and not having to worry about homework almost every summer growing up. For an only child like me, summer camp provided an opportunity to be around other kids during those 180 days, which I was extremely grateful for (and thoroughly miss now that I’m working a job and taking summer school classes). And those days have inspired me to compile an extensive list of fashion items that deserve a second chance this season.
- I remember calf-length cardigans enjoying a spell of popularity back when I shopped at Limited Too. (And by “shopped”, I really mean poked around the candy counter and circled items in the monthly catalogue.) And although I was at first skeptical of their resurgence this year, I have really grown to love them. A patterned one, like this hooded, Southwestern-inspired one from Forever 21, slides effortlessly over a pair of jersey harem pants and a t-shirt, just in case you run into a chilly summer night. ($42.80)
- I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want! A pair of platform tennis shoes! Popularized by The Spice Girls in the 1990s, these things were all the rage on the playground. Different from the wedge sneakers that are being played to death this year, these flatforms add a little charm to any summer look without appearing too dressed up. Try these leopard ones by BDG on for size with a pair of shorts and a sleeveless collared shirt for a cute, yet spicy ensemble. ($24)
- Batwing, tunic-style dresses aren’t as much of a reach into the vault, but I think they’re worth mentioning on this list (probably because I considered them passe until very recently). I remember all too well the blotted prints and unfortunate pairings with jeggings that lined racks at Wet Seal and DEB. The thought of them just makes me shudder. But an updated version of the tunic dress, like this beaded V-neck one from H&M, dresses up any swimsuit or daytime outfit. ($49.95)
- Palazzo pants are like the cool older sister of those dreadful gaucho pants we were all wearing in 2008, who spends all week going to class in the city and sips mojitos with her girlfriends at rooftop parties on the weekends. They’re light and effortless, but can still appear polished when paired correctly. Wear them at the office with a short-sleeved blouse, a statement necklace, a chiffon blazer and a pair of d’Orsay flats. Or rock a more casual pair, like these olive green ones from A’Gaci, with a flirty bralette or a chambray button-up. ($33.50)
- Between adorable hearts and tacky beer mugs, shaped sunglasses have always been something of a commodity. But my personal favorite type of frames have to be cat-eyes. They’re girly and retro, and add a pop of personality to even the most simple outfit. A variation of the cat-eye, cleverly called the “kitten”, features only a slight flick at the outer corner, to create a muted, but still unique look. Shades like these, a tortoise shell pair from Chicwish, work well with just about every summer ensemble. ($19.47)
- Before tipping into the deep pool of crossbodies, totes, clutches and purses, I sported a vinyl drawstring backpack. I would stuff everything from water bottles and snacks to combs and mirrors into that thing until it nearly burst, and carry it around with me everywhere. While I’ve graduated from that poor pouch, I do believe a brightly colored rucksack, like this cobalt blue one by Kimchi, makes the perfect summer accessory for a day of shopping or swimming. ($39)
- This item actually corresponds with a couple of trends from years ago. Creatively tie-dyed items were all the rage during my camp days, mostly because they were easy and wearable arts & crafts projects. And Jamaican-themed wares were all the rage in high school (along with Wiz Khalifa’s Kush & OJ EP). This Rastafarian tank dress from Karmaloop’s all women’s branch, Miss KL, is less cliche than Bob Marley printed t-shirts, but still works during summer, especially when layered under a denim jacket and a cute bohemian hairstyle. ($40)
- To call flat sandals a summer staple wouldn’t quite do them justice. But, even with variations like the gladiator and the T-strap, the prime choice in summer footwear can become a little run-of-the-mill. That’s where closed-toe sandals come in. Like these metallic pair by Boohoo, these shoes offer a new twist on an old shoe trend. While they certainly take some getting used to and a little imagination in the styling department, the closed-toe flat sandals could definitely work this season. ($36)
- Denim dresses have almost always been in style in one way or another. Whether we were rocking them as boxy overall numbers or horrid patchwork creations, they’ve rarely disappeared from the shelves completely. I particularly love the shirt dress variety, because it’s a perfect combination of tomboyish, yet girly and classic. This Eiffel Tower-motifed version would pair perfectly with a pair of simple white or red Keds and a red lip. Trés chic! ($40)
- If your summer camp experience was anything like mine, it wasn’t complete without at least an armful of friendship bracelets, made from assorted colors of embroidery thread. I would shell out big bucks on a tackle box full of string in blues and magentas and lime greens and weave together a bevy of spiraled or chevroned bracelets to hand out to friends or wear myself. This H&M bracelet features one of those bracelets intertwined with silver and gold chains, to create a look that is grown up and edgy, but still nostalgic and fun. ($9.95)
- Ah, the one-piece swimsuit. In my opinion, it just doesn’t get enough respect during the summer time with all of the bikinis flying off the shelves. And while those are great and all, I’ve seen many a woman wearing an ill-fitted two-piece who would have looked summertime fine in a monokini. Back in my summer camp days, the one-piece was all my parents allowed me to wear; nowadays, it’s the only suit I’d feel comfortable in. But that’s fine by me, with selections like this River Island tribal-print monokini out there. (It’s sold out, but try this one for $59.40.)
- Galaxy-printed clothing always reminds me of Disney’s Zenon series, which was (and still is) a huge hit. So, I was excited to see this muscle shirt on Forever 21’s website. A piece like this may seem like a one-trick pony, but would actually work with a variety of nighttime outfits. Try it with high-waisted denim shorts and Converse Chucks for a casual get-together. Or tuck the shirt into a pair of black harem pants and some ankle-strap heels for an evening downtown. Whether you dress it up or down, you’ll look absolutely nebular. (Again, sold out. At least that means I’m picking cute stuff, right? This similar top is $13.66.)
- If you were one of the guys during camp season, playing endless games of soccer and basketball, caps were probably your friend. They protected you from the blazing sun, and kept your hair out of your face while you handed out kicked the boys butts on the field or court. But, a more feminine rendition of the baseball cap can also be a summer essential, because it allows you to accent a simple outfit, like a t-shirt and jeans (which is especially great for those unruly hair days). (Once again, gone. But this equally cute one is $16.99.)
- My lip gloss used to be poppin’. I mean, as the pre-cursor to all other makeup, I took my lip gloss application very seriously, even in the camp era. And, while I’m more of a lipstick gal these days, a little gloss can be less lightweight during the summer heat, even when paired with a liner. The trick is to mix and match the right colors. This lavender tube, for instance, would blend well with a purple or pink base. Or rock it solo for a vibrant, sexy color. ($8)