Share this article

print logo

Loving those timeless summer staples

On our porch we have a round metal side table that is decades old. It’s been painted countless times by two generations of family members and has provided a sturdy surface for many morning cups of coffee, afternoon glasses of iced tea and evening goblets of wine.

Some call its style retro. It strikes me as one of those summer items that simply never goes out of style. I feel the same way about my black, straw box-shaped handbag lined in a leopard-print fabric. It probably dates back to the 1950s and, truth be told, belongs to my mother. I “borrowed” it several years ago and, well, you know how that goes.

A few other items that come around summer after summer:

• Gingham checks. Whether it’s a tablecloth for the picnic table (another timeless treasure in my book) a man’s tie or a woman’s shirt, summer checks never seem to check out. Especially in red.

• Strawberry shortcake. It’s homegrown strawberry season, so I couldn’t resist adding this to the list. Naturally, I carry on the family tradition of serving the strawberries over Bisquick biscuits and topping it all off with a dollop – or two or three – of Cool Whip. In my family, we always use the word “dollop.”

• Navy and white polka dots. Year after year, they pop up on anything from handbags to swimsuits. This season, I have a new long navy skirt with white polka dots. My daughter has a new short navy sundress with white polka dots. We will not be wearing them the same day.

• White cotton mattelassé coverlets and bedspreads. I have childhood memories of these and how perfect they were for the summer bedroom. I picture them on a neatly made, fuss-free bed in a room where the hardwood floors are bare, the windows open and the shades partially drawn to keep out the afternoon sun. As an adult, I bought them for my home to use as bed covers during the warm months. They wash beautifully.

• Stacking chairs. The chair styles may have changed some through the years but stacking chairs have a place at the cottage, in the backyard, anywhere people are coming and going. Running short? Bet your neighbors have a stack you can borrow.

• Pink nail polish. From light to bright. One friend recently showed up in a pink polish shade called Optimistic, by Revlon.

• Flip-flops. To go with your pink nail polish, of course. Go as plain or as embellished as you like. As designer Kate Spade wrote in her book, “Style”: “Flip-flops with a soft flower will make you smile. Splash on perfume with lots of floral notes.” That was about 10 years ago. It still works today.

• The L.L.Bean cotton canvas tote (officially called the Boat and Tote Bag). The natural-colored bag comes in different sizes and with a choice of handle colors. It can be monogrammed, too. A true classic.

• Long-handled iced tea spoons. These are just so elegant. You can use them for other things too, such as root beer floats or lemonade.

• Convertibles. Need we say more? (Please read on.)

• Head scarves. Here’s what Lesley M. M. Blume has to say about them in her book, “Let’s Bring Back”: “Very Jackie-Kennedy-and-Lee Radziwill-in-Capri ... head scarves are also a good way to keep your hair from getting stringy while you’re zipping around in a convertible.”