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ADORN YOURSELF
OUR PICKS FOR THE TOP 10 SUMMER ACCESSORIES

"Less is more" makes a lot of sense when it comes to summer accessories. Who wants to pile on the jewelry and worry about matching handbags to their shoes when it's 88 degrees and humid outside?

But a few carefully chosen pieces can make the difference between dressing and dressing for the season. It's time to give your winter handbag a well-deserved rest. Treat yourself to a new, softer fragrance. Lighten up in the legwear department, too.

Whether it's floral flip-flops or an elegant evening shawl, summer accessories should be simple and stylish - adding just the right touch to whatever you wear with them.

Need a few ideas? Here are our 10 favorite accessories for summer. The best part: Much of this stuff is on sale.

1. Packable straw hat. There are lots of reasons to wear a hat in the summer, style being one of them. Sun protection, another. But forget the standard straw topper that falls apart if you even look at it funny - let alone toss it in the back seat or, horrors, sit on it.

What we recommend is a crush-proof hat constructed from a pliable material such as crocheted raffia. These soft straw hats - sometimes labeled "packable" - can be folded, rolled, wadded, smooshed. Look for them in hat departments, catalogs specializing in travel gear, etc.

2. Summer purse. We offer two suggestions here. One, go for a pop of color. Two, go for a summery texture.

Liz Claiborne Accessories and other handbag brands are big on red this season. Picture a red handbag with a white linen outfit, for example, or even navy or black separates.

If you prefer to stick with a dark handbag, make the switch to a summer style such as a woven.

One suggestion: Elliott Lucca's "The Sak" handbags, available at department stores. These soft bags feature a tightly woven cord-like material ideal for warm weather. Available in black, navy and naturals but also fun shades and plenty of styles. Prices include $36 for a 7-by-8-inch zip-top bag; $59 for a 9-by-12 pouch with snap closure.

3. Chain-link belt. This style goes in and out of vogue, but chain-link belts are back in a big way this summer. Airy and stylish, chain-link belts can be worn with everything from a simple T-shirt dress to pants-and-top ensemble. Look for them where fashion accessories are sold.

4. Summer hosiery. Face it: While some women can get away with bare legs all summer long, many continue to wear hosiery to the office or at least to dressy affairs such as weddings.

The key is to make the switch to something sheer and as natural-looking as possible. Give your opaques a rest and by all means pack away your black hosiery for the next couple of months.

Hanes Hosiery's Silk Reflections brand, for one, offers a line called "Beyond Bare" designed to make your legs look as au natural as possible.

There's even a "toeless" option to wear with sandals so that your digits are completely exposed - thanks to a funny little feature called a "toe thong." Too weird? There's always your standard sandal-foot design, although it's best to wear these with a closed-toe shoe. Beyond Bare prices begin at $8.50 per pair.

5. Summer fragrance: Again, try something lighter for summer and apply discreetly. Some women may even prefer to switch to dusting powder in a favorite scent during warm weather rather than going the spritz route.

6. Cuff bracelet: We recently saw a woman wearing this: Black, slender cropped pants, white knit sleeveless mock turtleneck, black flats and a single, wide sensational silver cuff bracelet.

Need we say more?

7. Beach towel: Sometimes we get so hung up on swimsuits, we don't bother to consider the towel we drag along to pool parties, boat rides and water parks. This year, there are some great designs out there - splashy florals, sporty stripes - in terrific color combinations. Pick up a new towel - or two - and wear it as a sarong apres swim.

8. Funky flip-flops: They're everywhere. From styles with polka-dotted soles to floral adornments, this is the summer to go a little tacky and bare your silly side. Look for flip-flops in both accessories and shoe departments. Hey, some stores are even stocking them near checkout. That's how popular these thongs are.

Once you find the perfect pair, wear them to brighten up pool-side, or pair with sun dresses, casual skirts, shorts and cropped pants. Expect comments.

9. Shawl. It's the last thing you think of on a humid afternoon, but what happens when the sun goes down at Artpark or some other outside venue? The accessories departments are filled with shawls and wraps in all fabrics, colors and sizes. Some even feature embroidered flowers and other decorative touches.

10. Bandanna. That's right, a bandanna. It's cheap, colorful, casual and can be worn many, many ways. Tie a red one around your ponytail to accent white pants, white top and white sandals. Wear a blue one on your head with navy denim short-alls and white T-shirt. Roll and wear as a headband for gardening or tie a colorful one on the handle of your summer handbag.

Speaking of colors, Vidler's 5-10-$1.00 & Up store in East Aurora sells bandannas in - at last count - two dozen colors for $1.98 each.

Beverly Vidler said people don't just wear them. They decorate with them, using bandannas as napkins at a summer picnic or lining a basket with one for serving rolls and muffins.

"You can even use them to dress your doggy," she added.

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