Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Top Ten Versatile Summer Fashion Staples for the Tropics

When traveling in the spring and summer, it is never in vogue to show up with a suitcase or three. A truly cool traveler shows up with a duffel bag, and she looks chic and hip for the span of the entire trip.

A few years ago, when I traveled to Hawaii for a whirlwind weekend,  I took a small Guess duffel, half full, with room to shop (although the two teeny bikinis I found there took up no room at all). This duffel is the terribly important first part, especially if you're going on a road trip with friends or sharing a small hotel room for a music festival or beach weekend,  no one wants to see everything you own; seeing everything is never sexy

remember that because it relates to the second most important part, which is what you put into the duffel. 

We always hear about the perfect tee shirt, and all the girls I seem to see, the ones that aren't from Florida, think that the fashion of female youth culture is high waist, cheek revealing shorts, crop tops and flip flops, but if that fashion sense is associated with anything, it's the fashion sense of four years ago, and bare feet and butt cheeks definitely have some absolute limitations. 

Florida fashion is dynamic because we don't have seasonal wear; we wear and experiment year round, and we know what to expect in a world of extreme tropical shifts. A hip tourist takes on in-climates with ease, and she is absolutely ready for anything. 

My friends often have me figure out their wardrobes and pack their suitcases because I am pretty dynamite at getting a lot out of a little. My rules for spring and summer beach wear are simple:

One. Everything is never sexy on the street.
Two. Organize your travel wardrobe on the same pallet.
Three. Make sure you can wear everything you pack at least 3 ways.

So without further ado, here is my top ten list of spring and summer staples, which can all be mixed and matched because all are extremely versatile; furthermore, all of these pieces are from my own closet, and I absolutely live by them.

One. White and Cream Lace: 

Clockwise from top left: sleeveless lace mini is Paper Crane, lace boat neck 3/4 sleeve mini is homemade, sheer lace mini w/ rhinestones is vintage, lace 3/4 sleeve top is B. Moss, lace cowl neck tunic w/ teardrop sheer back is Mimi Chica, lace vest is Imaginary Voyage and sleeveless lace mini w/ fringe is Divided by H&M.

Lace is light, clean and always beautiful, but the most important thing that lace doesn't do is wrinkle or lose its shape with wear. It can be pristine or deconstructed, depending on the accessories. I like my dresses (especially my lace dresses) short, so they can either be worn as swimsuit cover ups, mini dresses or long tops with short shorts.

Two. Colorful Sheers:

From left to right: strapless chambray and sheer is Mimi Chica, sheer, silk and lace blush dress with embroidered flowers is Rodarte, beige top with flower print is Lush, white dress with lace bib is Zara and the blue sheer with open shoulders and butterfly print is vintage Malama Sophisticates Hawaii.

Perfect for layering, subtle and sexy, but don't go too far into everything territory. If you wear a sheer top with shorts, chose a bikini top instead of a bra; wear with a chambray work shirt; choose a leather pencil skirt instead of denim shorts. Silhouettes are a tease; they're not the sloppy drunk girl with the bad dance moves climbing on top of the bar. I dig sheer dresses over bikinis, especially for a day out, which easily translates to an afternoon at the beach or pool, but just like the mood, the colors should be light and fun. 

Three. Cotton Crop Tops:

Clockwise from left: long sleeve net shirt with print is Mossimo, denim blue crop tee shirt is Mossimo, periwinkle tank with embroidered design is Rubbish, real tank with lace sides is Chloe K, sweetheart neck tee is homemade and two tone mint sweater is Banana Republic.

Great for everything, but chose different styles. I am in love with my long sleeve surf shirt because it's colorful, a cool net fabric, and it looks awesome with a bikini and jean shorts. Crop tops look effortless and ridiculously chic with a leather skirt as well. Throw on over a swim suit and wear your beach hair lose or knotted for a night out.

Four. Chambray Work Shirts: 

From left to right: white and light chambray stripe is Forever 21, 3/4 sleeve work shirt is Mossimo and chambray solid is CB Casual.

A good button up work shirt can do wonders. Think of Jean Seberg  in Bonjour Tristesse. She was sexy and cool because she followed a decent few of these same fashion rules. The most important one though is sexuality is parallel to not showing everything. An over sized work shirt is an insinuation; a man could wear it too, but it looks sexier on you... especially unbuttoned with a bikini underneath.

Five. Navy Sailor Stripes:

From left to right: long sleeve double knit is Ann Taylor, racer back button tank is Cotton On, 3/4 sleeve scoop neck is Isaac Mizrahi and 3/4 cardigan w/ brass hardware is Top Shop.

Navy sailor stripes are a staple; they just are. They give everyone a better shape, and I always feel just as sexy as Brigitte Bardot in Contempt when I wear one with my white cotton mini shorts or brown leather pencil skirt. Also, navy sailor stripes are pretty much the only time I give myself leeway for a red lipstick on a summer night. 

Six. Strapless or Bandeau Bikinis:

From left to right, starting from top: red print bandeau and blush bandeau are both Victoria's Secret, black string bottoms are Billabong, leopard strapless is Hearts and Anchors, taupe Brazilian cut bottoms are from an Oahu surf shop, teal bandeau and multi colored bandeau are both from an Oahu surf shop, black sparkle low cut bottoms are Fredrick's of Hollywood, black zip up strapless surf top is Billabong and reversible flower print and yellow bottoms are Gianni Bini.

Terribly important! Bikinis are not only insanely versatile, but they take so little room to pack. Every girl packs a bra for a beach trip, but we seriously live in our bikinis, and we should. A bandeau looks awesome with every single thing on this list with the exception of the sailor stripe, but that's mostly because it isn't vital. I love bandeau bikini tops with a sheer blouse or crop top and a pencil skirt, or a bikini with a lace mini dress; the lace blurs the body lines but the bikini makes sure the body is still there, and everyone knows it.

Seven. Denim Shorts:

Roxy by Quiksilver

Staple. I prefer mine ripped to shreds. I've been living in these for quite a few seasons, and though I also have a pair of vintage Levi's high waist shorts, I leave them at home for trips. They can't do much beyond the one thing they're good at, which means they only look good with crop tops or fitted cottons, but who wants to wear fitted cottons in 100 degree weather?

Eight. Knit Shorts:

From top to bottom: cream front button is Marc Jacobs, orange knit with beaded flowers and side ties is Free People and white front pocket is Xhilaration girls.

You will wear these more than denims, especially at the beach and on road trips, so invest in some great pairs that look great on you. I live in my Marc Jacobs cream mini shorts, and I wear them with everything, including sheers. Knit looks like less of a put on than denim, which makes them breezy and fun.

Nine. Leather Skirts:

Clockwise from top left: white pencil skirt is vintage Tannery West, red bubble is Front, red zip up with front pocket is Urban Renewal and brown pencil is vintage International Rinzi Collection.

In love! Mine are all vintage, so go hunting. Leather keeps its shape; it's easy to wear and totally looks great with everything on this list. If you want a tight leather, go for a pencil skirt, which looks especially cool with a bandeau bikini and a knotted chambray work shirt. If you want something shorter, go for a looser style; for some reason, I've only been drawn to reds for my short leathers. If I could find a teal, I'd be in heaven.

Ten. Denim Jackets:

Left to right: dark denim is J. Jill, light 3/4 mini denim jacket is Children's Place. Buttons are my own.

I don't even have to explain this. If you don't own a denim jacket that you love, you should just start here because this entire list is useless to you without a great jean jacket. I probably wear my denim jackets at least four days a week because it goes with every single thing, and it always looks cool.

Happy traveling!

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