Let's pretend like we're going someplace tropical this summer. Our heat gets stickier than equator-like climates, so we have every reason to dress like we're in the Caribbean this time of year. Fortunately, the vacation look has never been so in for day and night. This means bohemian tunics and caftans, all variations of straw bags, jewel and metallic sandals and heels, and beachcomber length pants. The more sequins, prints, tassels and eclectic the better to add a touch of exoticism to your look.
Breezy bohemian tunics are in high style for guys and girls. The loose, long-sleeve tops are flattering and have some sex appeal with their low cut V-necks and side slits. Fortunately, quality variations defying cookie cutter looks can be found everywhere. Waist length or longer, prints or sequin encrusted, San Trope or Bollywood, you can find an adaptation of this must-have seasonal item to suit your taste.
A longer length looks great as a bathing suit cover-up or even belted as a dress. Pair your tunic with anything to dress up or dress down. Try cropped summer-weight, low-cut jeans with flip-flops for day or crisp, white pants and wedgy espadrilles or flat leather-heeled thong sandals for evening. Hair à la natural with a narrow scarf headband, like the skinny sequined number that was hot last winter, looks best with this look.
Ditch the fussy hair for summer and the orange fake bake. Give up the over-styled and harshly colored hair and heavy eye makeup from winter in favor of a natural look. Go with pale, neutral lip shades and maybe only mascara on the upper lashes to enhance a sun-kissed look to your skin. Put the heavy black eye liner in the trash and go bare. Don't forget the SPF for your face no matter what you do and no matter how melanin unchallenged you are.
Bathing suits speak worlds about women. How you perceive and/or are comfortable or uncomfortable with your body - whether you are wearing a skirted one-piece or nearly nothing at all - is completely revealed. To be totally truthful, bathing suits are litmus tests of your fashion savvy with fabric and fit.
Honestly, you don't have to be a teensy size 2 with no boobs to don a Brazilian string bikini. You do, however, have to know your body and know what needs to be covered to enhance your shape. If you plan on hitting the water and being active in your bathing suit, buy it small and tight as they stretch when they hit the water. Shopping for a bathing suit is a totally different ballgame than buying clothes. Ignore swimsuit sizes and buy what feels the best, what you feel you can move and play in. You'll feel better and that will make you look better. Popular and recommended for 2005 is the very flattering boy-cut short.
Throw out your mini skirts and get tiered, full and flouncy skirts in Boho patterned fabrics or plain white. Ditch the daisy dukes for ladylike city shorts. Put the over-glammed halters back in the closet in favor of scarfy or chiffon empire waist halter-tops and halter dresses. Trash the T-shirt for a skimpy, feminine top.
Prim is still in, but 2004's pink was nothing but an entre into the world of color and girliness for 2005. Kelly green capris and handbags are the rage as is anything orange. You can still wear your pearls, but try on some turquoise or wood bead chunky necklaces and bracelets for a fresh summer look that's carefree like you're on holiday. Anyone for rum punch?
Fun finds for summer at local boutiques
Gorgeous white, long, cotton tunic with white embroidery, $16.99. India Emporium, Glendale Mall, 254-0425.
Faux tortoise shell bangles, $18 each. Wooden bead bracelets starting at $11. Good Company, 113 E. 49th St., 925-4559.
Clustered wood circle and silver earrings, $58, and matching necklace, $62. Silver in the City, 434 Massachusetts Ave., 955-9925.
Lightweight cotton jersey shrugs by Saint Grace, $48. Sage, 717 Massachusetts Ave., 423-2919.
Wide variety of handmade American Indian sterling silver cuffs, $35 on up. Bear Creek Gallery, 8659 River Crossing Blvd, 580-0882.
Comme des Garcons Odeur 71 is a summer scent great for men or women, $29 for a 15 ml. or $92 for a 200 ml. bottle. Rural, 970 Fort Wayne Ave., 423-1042, www.ruralindiana.com.
Bobbi Brown Cosmetic's Beach Beauty Face Palette for $45. Nordstrom, Circle Centre Mall., 636-2121, ext. 1420.
Soya summer chiffon and cotton empire top, $140. Rebecca Taylor flouncy, Boho, sequin-kissed dress, just under $400. Frankey's, 1712 E. 86th St., 580-1111.
Shell and wood bead necklaces $3-$5. Wide, clear, plastic bangles $3 or two for $5. Many ethnic print tops, peasant blouses and full skirts priced on average at $14. Broad Ripple Vintage, 824 E. 64th St., 255-4135.
Ditch the car and get your butt toned for the bikini by riding a bike. Find a classic, vintage bike at Al's Classic Bikes on the sidewalk outside of Brooke's Army-Navy Surplus Store, 5402 N. College Ave. , 255-8368. Prices start around $100, more or less, depending on what's available.
When you've finished your shopping . Enjoy a Pina Colata at Bahama Breeze, 3815 E. 96th St., 569-7204. A choice favorite, sip a Margarita at Cheeseburger in Paradise, 4670 Southport Crossing Drive., 883-4386.