Arts : Clothes-minded - fashion deconstruction

Ultimate beach bag

I hope that, like me, you’re celebrating summer with a quick getaway to our backyard coastlines, either taking advantage of cheap all-inclusives to Mexico or the kindness of friends-of-friends’ condos on the Texas Gulf. What to pack for three or four days living out your Corona-beer-commercial fantasy? Look no further:

Headed to the beach this month? Follow Leigh’s directions for fabulous lightweight fashion (and don’t forget a versatile cami).

Tunics and caftans are back in a big way. My favorites are in white or natural linen, trimmed with bright embroidery or ethnic ribbon. Eyelet lace, dyed in tropical colors like watermelon and canary, help Holly Hobbie get her groove back. They should hit around mid-hip to mid-thigh; just add shorts or a miniskirt (in twill or white denim to anchor such a floaty top) and a leather belt — you’re ready for lunch in the cabana. Add heels and this casual cover-up takes you straight to dinner by sunset.

In my bag: Raw linen shift with coffee-colored embroidery, Old Navy, $34.50.

For a bit more coverage, white jeans are classic. Wide leg hems and lighter-weight denim keep you cool, while white reflects heat and elongates the leg. With a flared trouser or boot cut, a skinny tank in a bright color is clean and sporty. Strappy sandals and a printed scarf to bring it all together.

In my bag: India-white boot-cut jeans, Banana Republic, $78. Favorite cami, the Gap, $14.50.

Your quickie weekend away should always include one glamorous dress-up night, when you scrape the sand and tar off, wash the chlorine out of your hair, and show off your new glow. Go for an all-out girlie sundress in structured, nostalgic styles. Fabrics as diverse as cotton lawn and Pucci silk prints translate beautifully in shoulder-baring halters. Nip in the waist and give that full skirt a twirl. Dramatic floor-length versions were all over the spring runways and are now making it into stores — very bohemian ’70s cocktail-party hostess.

In my bag: Chinese Lantern halter dress by Odille, at Anthropologie, $128.

To accessorize, think warm. Gold jewelry is flattering in summer — it makes your skin radiate, drawing the sun’s light toward you. Long necklaces complement summer’s plunging necklines and dangling earrings bring out highlights in your hair. Match gold with wood, stone, or crystal to keep the look laid-back luxe.

In my bag: gold and dark-wood asymmetrical necklace, Amanda Macedo, made to order, $80.

One final recommendation: Sunscreen with self-tanner. Don’t make your trip an opportunity for skin cancer, but don’t forgo one of summer vacation’s greatest pleasures, either: tan envy from your friends when you get home. My new fave is Clinique Radiant Bronze Tinted Self-Tanner with SPF 15, at Dillard’s, $17.50.

You’ll notice I’m leaving the bathing-suit decision to you — I can only do so much. Have fun!

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