Summertime

PUBLISHED: 16:21 07 July 2009 | UPDATED: 15:13 20 February 2013

A flowing summer dress that is colling in the summer heat.

A flowing summer dress that is colling in the summer heat.

Summer weekends should be filled with trips to the beach, barbecues in the back garden, the delights of a village fete or the local flower show. Dressing for any and all of these occasions is simple - and fun.

Summer weekends should be filled with trips to the beach, barbecues in the back garden, the delights of a village fete or the local flower show. Dressing for any and all of these occasions is simple - and fun.
Thankfully some summery styles just never go out of fashion - instead they metamorphose each year with new twists to the original look. Overlay this with the fashionistas' favourites and you have a gloriously easy palette, great shapes and themes that anyone can mimic.
Think seashore, think nautical. White is one of the season's most dominant colours, reds for 2008 lean more towards raspberry and coral than strictly scarlet, and navy is centre stage. But the Salcombe Look this time round also takes in flattering sea blues, Mediterranean turquoise and shades of pink.
Horizontal candy stripes are crucial for an authentic interpretation of nautical, wide-leg trews echo classic French matelot styling, or there are cooler cropped pants to team with a T and soft jacket.
While this navy lark uses strong colour contrasts and blatant seashore imagery, the alternative, more Bohemian trend draws inspiration from the Seventies, Woodstock and hippies. Floral prints are bright enough to attract bees, smocks are floaty rather than maternity, and long tie back cami tops are sweet over jeans. This look also includes maxi dresses, thoughtfully echoing the elegance of eveningwear or so retro they provoke an attack of déjà vu - or the giggles!
This year's devotion to non-colours - those shades of sand and beach pebbles - continues with every one of them working hard and well in matt cottons, loosely woven linens and the latest weightier jerseys.
For those who long for more assertive colour and femininity, the trans-seasonal skirt-and-cardi partnership continues with yet more highly patterned or embellished skirts falling just below the knee, topped with a single shade, eye-catching cardigan.
Solid blocks of colour are largely reserved for posh dresses, while the summer dress is pure, pure white. If a cutesy, frothy style is too young, try a shirt dress which serves over a bikini as you come off the beach, on its own or with jeans.
But the look that creates the most frustration and fun this summer is that jumble of layers the likes of Sienna Miller manage so well. Jeans with funky flip-flops, a spaghetti strap vest under a translucent top or short dress, topped with a little cardigan in mishmash of fabrics. Or perhaps a pair of cut offs with a brightly coloured vest and a patterned shirt?
Strangely, the Sienna crowd still insist on wearing their squishy sheepskin boots year round these days, probably it's the only way to keep warm when there's a breeze and you're wearing little else but a minuscule skirt and a strappy top! However, another favourite of this casual style is the textured scarf - an amazing temperature controller when the sun insists on going in and out like a yo-yo.

SUMMER SHOPPING TIPS

White trousers/jeans - dedicate time and money to tracking down the right length and cut. Wide-legged does not mean baggy. Cigarette-straight with heels does not work for everyone. High waisters lengthen legs.

Buy good quality jersey tees and tops to avoid 'twizzle' when side seams twist out of line.

Remember horizontal stripes are not necessarily fattening, but choose with care between narrow candy stripes and rugby player hoops.

If you love colours, snap them up now before autumn comes because there's never more choice than in high summer.

Get the shoes right. Match them to your look and the occasion. Heels rarely behave on sand or grass and flip-flops don't have to be totally flat. And deck shoes always look more grown up than girlie plimsolls.

Avoid ironing on holiday (or all summer) with the best fabrics that hang dry or twist-and-crinkle.

If sleeveless T-shirts are not an option, try cap sleeves for maximum exposure, and if you find a collection with T-shirt sleeves in your favourite length, invest immediately, you may never see the same again.
- Resist the temptation to buy more of the same. Indulge, investigate and enjoy something totally different this season.

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