POSTED ON MAY 27, 2009:
Summer in the City
Warm-weather fashions marked by bright colors and comfortable cuts
Package Deal. If this trend sounds vague, it's because it is. JoAnn Cardwell, part-owner of Bella Dames, said that both short dresses and the long, maxi length dress are both popular for the full summer season.
Summer has a few steady occurrences that can always be depended upon to return each year. There will always be the "song of the summer," some catchy pop hit that will be played every five minutes on every radio station. There will always be at least half a dozen days during which it will be so hot even blinking your eyes will produce excessive body sweat.
But for every classic summer moment, there are also new possibilities. This summer we're thinking cheap road trips and routine lounging at the lake or pool with some friends.
This balance of classic, reliable summer moments mixed with new experiences also sums up this summer's styles. There are definitely standout trends that seem new and specific for summer '09, but many of them are just slight variations of what we see each summer. They've changed just enough to encourage us to go buy these "new" looks, but the updates are ever so subtle.
Take for instance, the biggest trend of this summer (and almost all summers): dresses. JoAnn Cardwell, part-owner of Bella Dames, 5958 S. Lewis, said that the trend of this summer is the sundress.
If this trend sounds vague, it's because it is. Cardwell said that both short dresses and the long, maxi length dress are both popular for the full summer season. The looks don't have a consistent pattern but all feature bright summer colors. Think bright pinks, azure and green, this last color Cardwell noted will continue to remain popular and relevant into the early stages of fall.
Also, while many of the maxi length dresses are made of jersey because those "wear better," the short length dresses are constructed from a mixture of materials.
Luckily, this trend is pretty straightforward. This makes it easy to spot and to know that that item is "in." This summer's dresses are so diverse, encapsulating everything from Grecian inspired looks, flowy chiffon constructions and more structured, form-fitting looks (just to name a few). This gives heavy duty shoppers endless opportunities while making the casual shopper feel overwhelmed.
In that case, it's best to focus on the positive side, which is being able to fit any body shape and size. For instance, two of the most prominent cuts are the one-shoulder and strapless dresses. Unfortunately, though, not everyone can wear these looks because the undergarments necessary don't provide enough support for big bosomed gals. Instead of being trendy and looking saggy, there are a dozen other looks to be found that are both supportive and still stylish.
To prevent looking like you are wearing a muumuu (about the only dress shape not stylish for summer), look for dresses that have some build into the shape. Depending on your body type, find a dress that comes in at the waist or right under the chest and then flows out. This style will give the body the right amount of definition.
If you fall in love with a shift dress, you should also fall in love with a belt. Again, cinched high near your ribs or slung low on your hips will accentuate the figure. This will also ensure that it looks like you are wearing a dress and not just a knee grazing t-shirt.
Also, pay attention to fabric. A thin, wispy fabric like chiffon will sit close to the skin, while sturdier cotton will retain its shape and not skim the body.
Women who don't want to bare too much arm have options as well. And while there are sleeved dresses out there, it's true that many of the summer dress options are sleeveless. In this case, you can also incorporate one of summer's other trends, layering, to wear these dresses while still feeling comfortable.
While you wouldn't normally equate layering with the hottest season of the year, Cardwell said that the key is thin layering. Cardwell's clients, who range from women in their 20s all the way until their 60s, who want to wear sundresses without showing their arms can go about it two different ways: putting a thick strapped tank underneath a thin strapped dress or putting a knit over the dress. Knit sounds like a sweater, but it's not. Many cropped cardigans are in sheer cotton knits that still breathe to keep one cool. Remember that when layering a piece underneath to also choose thin fabrics. A ribbed tank under a cotton dress can appear lumpy.
And, if you're not regularly getting waxed this summer, there may come a point to give your razor a break. For those days, pick up a pair of cropped pants. The cropped pant seemed to get lost in the shuffle during the past few summers. But with its cool look (both aesthetically and temperature-wise) the Bermuda short pushed the cropped pant to the wayside. No one really fought to keep the trend alive because its last variation was a wide-legged version. Even an Amazon couldn't have looked attractive in a cropped, wide-legged pant.
This season, the cropped pant has followed our jeans and gone skinny. Even the Bermuda shorts have taken on a slimmer appearance. The cropped pant is ideal for staying cool in an office and still maintaining the look of professionalism; paired with a tank, cropped blazer and some heels, you're looking and feeling cool.
Although you're bound to find the cropped pant in linen, it's a risky choice. But linen's a risky choice for anything because it wrinkles so easily; these are the kind of wrinkles that don't just fade away, but contort into that position all day long. Linen delivers every summer like clockwork because the weave of the knit is loose and it's a lightweight, cool fabric. This is the only summer garment I can think of for this season who's cooling qualities doesn't match its "cool" look.
The not-linen cropped pant will look cool, but it won't feel as liberating as regular shorts. This summer suggests that you wear shorts along with your top in just one piece. It's called a "romper" and it is definitely the most interesting of the summer trends.
The most popular style of the romper is strapless (although you can find it as a safari-esque jumper or even halter), putting it right there with a jersey dress as the easiest thing to throw on.
Instead of throwing it over your head and being dressed, you just step into the two leg holes, pull up and viola!--dressed.
However, unlike the dress, the romper is not kind to every body type. If you spot one that you like, try it on. Look for keys that the romper might need constant pulling to prevent camel toes or a breast popping out. Also, take a moment to figure out how you will use the bathroom when rocking a romper, as I still haven't figured out the logistics. Do you have to completely disrobe?
Also consider its material and construction. Too cutesy looks like something purchased from the children's section and too casual makes it look like you left the pool (read: terry cloth). To wear it as evening wear, glam it up a bit with high heels and bold jewelry, always a summer staple. Cardwell said that summer accessories to spot are big bags and long necklaces fashioned from everything from turquoise and coral to glass. A long necklace will look ideal with a dress or a strapless romper.
This summer's fashion seems to have taken a cue from something written in high school yearbooks: "Stay cool. Don't ever change."
The looks might not be avant garde or entirely original, but they provide what we need for summer. They'll keep us looking cool and feeling cool. Like that "song of the summer," these looks will stick all season long.
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