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ISSUE 120 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 4/20/2007

Be cool: Dress for the heat

By Sean Johnson
Contributing Writer
and Lauren Radomski
Variety Editor

Friday, April 20, 2007

Ah, summer fashion. At times, we forget it exists. But with the arrival of warmer temperatures and sunny skies, it’s time to get prepared for long days outdoors and summer road trips. After all, you can’t wear a pile of wool and fleece in the dog days of summer.

Women's

Women’s fashion this summer is exhibiting more diversity in shapes, patterns and colors than we’ve seen on the market in a long time. There’'s far too much to treat here, but we at the Manitou Messenger want to offer a peek at our favorite items of the season.

Sundresses

Sundresses are the comeback item of the year. Let's face it: With the variety of shapes, fits and patterns on the market this year, they look good on pretty much everyone. The nice thing about sundresses is that most of them fall right around knee-length – perfect for being modest without looking like a prude. The only drawback to the sundress is that they can walk the fine line between “casual” and “formal.” Teaming a sundress with flat shoes or non-flashy jewelry can help tone down the formality of an outfit.

Shorts and skirts

Over the past few years, designers have really started to take a woman's body into account when dreaming up new short styles. This season, it seems the diversification in short varieties has exploded. From the board short, which graciously shows off well-formed gams, to slim Bermuda shorts, which are more forgiving, college-age women finally have a nice selection of non-grandma-esque leg wear for warm weather. But be warned: Prints on shorts are not always kind to those who have bit of junk in the trunk, and can greatly exaggerate small flaws.

In the same vein, a massively diverse array of skirts are hot this season. From the pencil skirt, which looks good on a long, lean body, to freer, slightly hippyish skirts, there's something for every body type. This season, buttons up the middle of the skirt are hot – and hideous. We at the Manitou Messenger feel that buttons are a little too fussy, a little too Raggedy Ann. And they totally draw attention to your crotch, as if to say “Bulls eye!” Button skirts are the official skirts of awkward moments.

Tops

Once again, flowing tops are very popular. This summer, however, tops have more shape and fit. That's lovely, of course, for those with curves, who tend to look a little pregnant in some of the true empire-wasted tops. The key to this season is long (a favor for everyone who doesn't enjoy seeing a plumber's crack at every turn). And more so than last season, prints are hot. Especially cute is the resurgence of Japanese-styled prints and the re-workings of last years faded flower fabrics.

For the chillier nights and bonfires of up north, not much has changed since last season in terms of hoodies and sweaters. Cropped sweaters and crochet are still cute and fashionable. Unfortunately, the graffiti prints from the past few years are still lingering around. And the vast majority still look adolescent and cheap, so proceed with caution if you intend to pair them with anything other than jeans or shorts.

Accessories

No doubt about it: The key to an outfit’s success is in the details. So after you’'ve slipped into a sundress or paired a casual tank with Bermudas, consider adding a few choice accessories to complete your look.

Beyond footwear, a world of additional accessories awaits. Belts, thick or thin, look great paired with a high-waisted skirt or cinched over a long tunic. Sunglasses this season take a retro twist, with mod, oversized frames at Kate Spade and Chloe, and sleek aviator shades at Versace. As far as jewelry goes, remember less is more. Invest in pieces like bright bangles, statement rings and bold necklaces – needless to say, don’t wear them all at the same time.

Shoes

Shoes may be practical, but that doesn'’t mean you can’t have some fun when choosing summer footwear. In case you haven’t noticed, flats aren'’t just for fifth-graders anymore – styles ranging from girlish to sophisticated are available in a wide range of colors, patterns and shapes. If you’re looking for something sporty, follow Mischa Barton’s lead and pick up a pair of rubber-soled, frayed-edged Keds. If your tastes are better suited to dressier styles, flats in leopard print or patent leather, embellished with bows or gems, rounded or pointy-toed, adorn the shelves of department stores nationwide.

As far as sandals are concerned, there’s a lot to be said for the old guard. Flip flops, Tevas and Chacos have loyal followings, so we won’t bother to suggest you give those up entirely. But if you’re looking to experiment with sandals, this season’s designer collections are a source of inspiration. Go out on a limb with a pair of Grecian-style sandals. Flat with leg-climbing straps, these shoes are available in modern designs, such as metallic silver by Calvin Klein. Really, who wouldn’t want a pair of shoes that tie just below the knees?

For people with a sense of adventure and a desire for additonal height, monster heels are back – we’re talking four to six inches. Whether you’'re in the mood for espadrilles, wedges or strapy sandals, you’re bound to find a pair that will have you eyeing doorways. Extras like studs or snake skin are sure to please.

Men

For the fashion-conscious male, there are plenty of ways to stay in style as the summer months approach. Now you may be asking yourself, “Summer men's fashion? Isn't that just the old pair of AE cargo shorts and T-shirt from a university I've never been to?” Well, that is one way to look at it, but there is much more to it, and today's typical guy is becoming more style-savvy. Shouldn't you?

Jumping right in, the name of the game this summer was set by runway shows last fall, pushing tailored yet functional clothing in earthy tones: Khakis, greens, browns and grays all seem to have infiltrated a lot of this summer's looks.

Pants

Denim is a staple of everyone's wardrobe these days, so we'll start there. The good news is you do not have to change that impulse to wear your jeans everyday. However, colors and cuts are following suit with runway shows, offering hues like cream, khaki and light dusty grays, leaning toward slimmer, fitted cuts rather than baggy. If you are ready to try something new, opt for one of these new colors. If you want to stick to a traditional look, I recommend untreated, unwashed raw denim. This is your typical dark blue denim, but with a much stiffer feel and deeper color than a pair that has been treated or distressed. The Gap offers both the new lighter colors and carries a decent pair of raw jeans in clean and fitted cuts that will leave you looking better without hurting your wallet. Ready to go the extra financial mile? Check out jransomla.com for some alternatives.

Tops

Shirts and suits have also adjusted, and the rule is fairly simple: Keep it light in color and well-fitted in cut. Shirts can bend the rules a bit, in darker or brighter colors as the sun starts shining more often. But please, gentlemen, keep your suits and blazers this summer lightweight and light colored (extremely light grey, khaki or cream are all good choices).

Accessories

Finally, round off your look with dashes of color, like a bright canvas belt, a pair of sandals or a T-shirt under it all (though it is really time to retire those shirts that say “Everyone loves an Irish boy” – we all do, but it’s time to let go). Keep accessories slim and small (phone, wallet, etc) – you don't want bulky items to ruin your fitted silhouette. And a good pair of sunglasses always round off a look without having to try hard at all (good news, no?). Get a pair of squared-off aviators or Ray-Ban Wayfarers (those classic Blues Brothers shades are back) to finish things off.

With these tips in mind, happy shopping as you head into summer. If, in the coming month, you find yourself stressed by finals, graduation or summer work, consider yourself thoroughly prepared for some good old-fashioned retail therapy.





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