As the weather heats up, women everywhere throw off their wool coats and heavy sweaters in favor of cool and breezy summer styles. Of course, not everyone has the cash to invest in a whole new summer wardrobe every year. Instead, focus on fashionable add-ons to freshen up your look without breaking the bank. Bags, shoes and other accessories allow you to try new trends without spending a fortune or taking a major fashion risk.
So what makes the perfect summer accessory, anyway? When temperatures are at their peak, look for items that combine form and function, shielding you from hazardous UV-rays while adding a touch of style. Choose clothes that not only make you look good, but also feel good as you throw off the dark, drab days of winter for the fun-packed, sun-soaked days of summer.
Read the next page to learn about a fashionable summer accessory that can be worn around your neck, shoulders or waist.
5: Light Summer Scarf
Light summer scarves serve as the perfect way to add eye-catching color to everyday outfits. Wrap a lightweight scarf around your neck to dress up jeans and a tee, or wear one with your favorite dress to stay warm in overly air-conditioned buildings. Scarves also make great belts to add a pop of color to your outfit, and many can even be worn as sarongs when you need a bit of extra coverage at the beach. Look for materials like silk or cotton for scarves that will last for multiple seasons, and be sure to try a few trendy options like ethnic prints and designs with bold colors.
4: The Floppy Hat
Nothing says summer chic quite like an oversized floppy hat. This classic favorite adds a touch of elegance to even the most casual outfit, and it looks just as fitting at an outdoor wedding as it does on the beach. Even better, wide-brim hats offer serious sun protection, which can help you ward off skin damage and keep tresses from fading. Try a classic straw hat for a timeless look, or choose raffia hats in white, black or neutral shades for a slightly dressier style. Patterned ribbons or bands add interesting touches without going overboard, while hats with vibrant hues add ample amounts of color for those looking to create a bold look.
3: Classic Clutch
Leave the oversized handbags at home this summer and lighten your load with a classic clutch. These small bags hold only the essentials, allowing you to travel light and easy during the hot and hazy days of summer. Traditional models fit neatly in one hand or can be tucked under your arm, while convertible clutches come with a simple chain or strap to keep your hands free. Choose a basic clutch in a neutral shade for an always-fashionable bag you can use year after year, or try out trends that are hot right now with neon-colored clutches or straw bags with wooden or leather trim.
2: Wedge Sandals
The wedge sandal serves as the ideal compromise between traditional high heels and summer's ultra-casual flip-flops and flats. Wedges are comfortable enough for a walk in the park or a stroll down the boardwalk, yet stylish enough to make jeans, dresses and capris look flirty and fashionable. The thick wooden or cork base eliminates the hazards -- and discomfort -- of high heels, while the strappy designs add style to any outfit. Spice things up with trendy versions made from animal skins, floral prints or bright neon colors, or choose wedges made from classic materials like leather, cork and canvas for shoes that will last for seasons to come.
Sunglasses are the ultimate must-have accessory for summer. Not only do they protect your eyes and help minimize skin damage, but a great pair of shades simply makes you look cool in a way no other accessory can. With so many designs and materials to choose from, trying on different looks is half the fun. Retro styles are especially hot right now -- particularly the 1960s-inspired cat's eye design. For a more wearable, but still trendy, look, try aviators or sunglasses with circular lenses. If you prefer a classic pair of shades that will always be in fashion, you can't go wrong with slightly oversized sunglasses with black or tortoiseshell frames.
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- Carr, Tina. "Weekend Summer Essentials." More. June 3, 2011. (March 31, 2012) http://www.more.com/summer-essentials+
- InStyle. "Summer Accessories 2011." (March 31, 2012) http://www.instyle.com/instyle/package/general/photos/0,,20497866_20500733_20970279,00.html
- Mellen, Polly Allen. "How to Wear Bright Colors." Allure. (March 31, 2012) http://www.allure.com/beauty-trends/how-to/2007/How_To_Wear_Bright_Colors
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Prevent Eye Damage: Protect Yourself From UV Radiation." August 2010. (March 31, 2012) http://www.epa.gov/sunwise/doc/eyedamage.pdf
- Vogue. "Hottest Summer Cats-Eye Shades." Feb. 23, 2012. (March 31, 2012) http://www.vogue.com.au/fashion/trends/hottest+summer+cats+eye+shades,16851