OK, so say you've got the whole summer dress thing taken care of. Here are some other hot summer items you'll want to pick up before stores replace them with pea coats and corduroys:
A cool pair of flip-flops. Yeah, cheap ones are the epitome of carefree cool, but they have spawned a slew of more upscale models that are attracting attention and buyers. According to Sue Marfino, owner of ShoeFly on Elmwood Avenue, Havaianas brand flip-flops are flying out of the store. They are available in an array of colors and feature pretty prints on their dense rubber footbed, which are also antimicrobial, which means they won't, well, smell like your cheaps ones. Marfino knows a woman who owns 35 pairs. One pair, if you can stop at one, will do.
A straw purse. From oversized hobo styles, to more citified-handbags and clutches, straw bags are by far the most popular purse styles of the season, according to both Nealy O'Rourke of Suzn O' in Snyder and Tricia Kelly of Tricia's Shoes in the Walker Center. They go perfectly with virtually anything.
Ballet flats. Face it, these aren't going to go away for awhile, because, like dresses, they are just so comfortable and versatile. Marfino and Kelly agree that simple flats, especially in interesting colors or patterns, are huge. "They're fun and they go with everything -- capris, shorts, skirts. And with a dress, they get an Audrey Hepburn look," Kelly says.
A flowy top. According to Leelee's Lisa Keating, tops that echo the baby doll silhouette of this season's popular dresses are a good choice to wear with capris and walking shorts. Look for tops in gauze or nylon mesh, that hit at the hip bone or lower. Rich prints in deep greens and oranges look fresh; black and white versions are classic.
A tunic. Like the flowy top, the tunic is a must-have this season. Look for thigh-length tops that hit even as low as midthigh to just-above-the-knee. Many have embroidery and/or intricate prints that update last year's boho looks. Lightweight organic cotton tops have been especially popular, according to O'Rourke.
Updated prep. Two of the hottest trends at LU Modern Classics on Elmwood Avenue and at Talbot's are madras plaids and, gulp, seersucker. "The pieces are almost retro in feeling," says Betsy Thompson, a Talbot's spokeswoman based in Boston, Mass. "Seersucker just feels like summer. Wearing it makes you feel like you did when you were a kid." Pieces at LU Modern Classics feature updates like more contemporary cuts and details like pearl buttons.
Nautical items. Lou Schreiber of LU Modern Classics notes that blue-and-white is an all-time summer favorite. This year, sea- (or shore) worthy looks include navy-and-white pants in non-beachy prints, as well crisp white sleeveless blouses and capri pants.
Wedge heels. Just get a pair. Revel in the support and the fit of a more substantial summer shoe. The most fashion-forward have cork soles and strappy leather uppers.
-- Barbara Sullivan