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Summer fashion is feminine, fun, flirty
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Saccharine-sweet pastels are out, but fun, feminine styles are all the rage this summer in the fashion world.
Instead of cotton-candy pink, this summer's styles will feature more toned-down colors. But that doesn't mean bright colors are a thing of the past -- they still have their place in most wardrobes.
"A head-to-toe bright outfit might be a bit much, but a bright accent will still let you sparkle," said Phyllis Miller, associate professor of apparel, textiles, merchandising and interior design in Mississippi State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
She suggested pairing a brightly colored handbag or pair of shoes with a more neutral outfit. Brightly colored finger- or toenail polish can also add spark to an otherwise neutral outfit.
"You want people to see you, not just your clothing," Miller advised.
Some of the more popular colors this summer include warm neutrals and midtones like champagne or soft coral colors. Grays, shades of turquoise and peachy-pinks are also in style this season.
"Black and white color combinations are very crisp and classic. Key accent colors for this combination are reds, yellows, jade greens or subtle champagne neutrals," Miller said. "Most people have black and white in their closet, and they just need to throw in a splash of color to update the look."
Miller said subtle neutrals and grays combine well with offbeat midtones. Bright colors like azalea-pinks and yellow-greens can be accented with toned-down colors and neutrals like pistachio, pale aqua and gray.
Fabrics are luxurious this season, with tulles and organzas providing voluminous shape, and chiffons, soft silks and brocades adding a sophisticated flare to various pieces of clothing, including bomber or bluejean jackets. Other popular fabrics for jackets include wool boucles that feature a looped surface texture, tweeds and fluid crepes.
"Long, lean jackets and tunics are becoming popular, as well as empire looks," Miller said. "Tiered and ruffled skirts can be balanced by longer, tunic-length tops."
Key to making these looks work is considering body shape and personal style. For instance, tunic-length tops can help take the emphasis off a larger top or bulky mid-section by focusing attention downward. On the other hand, a bottom-heavy person would want to avoid tunics.
"A shirt or jacket should never end at the fullest part of your body -- unless you want to make your hips look bigger," Miller said. "Also, if you have a large bustline, you'll want to avoid empire-waist tops because they put more emphasis on the top of your body.
"Similarly, people with larger arms will want to stay away from sleeveless or strapless tops, or anything with a cutesy sleeve," Miller said. "Instead, stay with a longer, fuller, loose sleeve."
Layers of sheer fabrics are popular this summer, as are low-cut necklines, "peekaboo" fabrics, and garments with cut-out backs and sides. Also try mixing different shades of the same color: wearing shades of aqua from pale to dark can create an interesting look.
"Another hot look this summer is polka dots, and I don't mean little polka dots," Miller explained. "I'm talking about great big, fabulous polka dots in black and white or peach and turquoise."
The trend toward ultra-femininity continues in the footwear arena, where backless, toeless and otherwise strappy shoes reign. Miller said women's passion for beads, necklaces and other jewelry will also continue.
"To easily and inexpensively update your look, go with a very bright, splashy handbag, shoes or jewelry," Miller advised. "This way, you don't have to spend a lot of money, but you have the key pieces needed for the new looks. However, I think the trend toward bright things will continue, so it is likely that something bright bought this season will still be in style next season."
Miller said accessories should coordinate with an outfit, but they do not have to match. A good rule of thumb is that every key color in an outfit should appear at least twice.
"That's what pulls an outfit together, and following this rule can have an amazing effect on any outfit," Miller said.
Some of the season's hottest styles are better at the beach than in the office, and Miller advised against wearing anything too revealing to work. If a person has any doubt about an outfit's suitability, Miller said it's best to avoid wearing it in professional settings.
Some looks to avoid in the office include low-cut tops that show cleavage and, in some cases, capri pants.
"On 'casual Fridays,' capri pants are fine, but in general, they're a little too casual for the office," Miller said. "But it really depends on how formal your office environment is. A jacket can dress up capri pants, and the matching top and bottom can give the pants a more business-like look."
Miller said while fashions go in and out of style, a personal sense of individuality in attire is always popular.
"This is really a time to let your own style show through. People are having fun with style and finding what fits their own personality," Miller said. "That's what's really in style: finding your own style."