Of course shopping should be on summer’s itinerary. It stimulates the economy, provides quality bonding time, counts as exercise if done with gusto and results in longer-lasting purchase pleasure than, say, salt water taffy. Plus, every fashionista knows the unadulterated joy of finding a unique item that fits perfectly. And if it’s on sale? Even better.
Sales are a good place to start summer’s fashion fun, because there are plenty of them. Tanger Outlets has a ginormous, five-day Fourth of July sale. Check the Outlets’ website (www.tangeroutlet.com/coupons ) for added discounts at the Atlantic City, Rehoboth Beach, De. and Lancaster, Pa. locations. Bring a bubbe if possible, because AARP members get a free Tanger coupon book filled with bonuses and discounts. Another great outlet option with discounts: Premium Outlets in Limerick, Pa. The Premium’s website (www.premiumoutlets.com ) has a lot of coupons and promotions. And, people over the age of 50 get an additional 10 percent discount on Tuesdays.
Don’t Discount Them Out
Outlets are great places to find deals on well-known designers. But boutiques are where to find clothes, shoes and jewelry from new or new-to-you designers. What do boutique owners declare as the must-haves for summer? They point to two of fashion’s biggest influences: Kate Middleton and “Mad Men.”
“When Kate Middleton wears something, people come in demanding it, and then we sell out of it,” says Laureen Esposito, owner of Colette in Ocean City, N.J. “She wore a pair of royal blue pants and we happened to have a similar style in the store, and everyone went nuts for them.” Colette carries colored denim from Kut From The Kloth and pattern-printed pants from Kersh.
“Kate is a young Jackie Kennedy,” says Donna Brockstedt, owner of Cleo’s Boutique in Rehoboth Beach. “Her style is tailored, classic and feminine in an upscale way. She’s not trendy, but she does pay attention to fashion. When she wore those colored jeans, everyone wanted them.”
Everyone still wants them. For summer, Brockstedt is stocking Cleo’s with brightly colored jeans and lightweight pants. “Orange is huge in pants,” she says. “Any shade of orange, coral and red, or anything in the yellow family, is going to be very popular.”
At Crysti in Rehoboth Beach, raspberry is the pant flavor of the summer. “We already sold out of raspberry pants, but I have more coming,” says Crysti Briedis, owner of the boutique, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. “People are also snapping them up in turquoise, bright blue and coral. Mostly, the pants are fitted and ankle-length. The capri look is over and done with. But if women don’t want skinny-legged pants, I do have a wider-cut pant from Cheryl Nash, an American designer from Maryland.
“There are two ways to carry off colored pants,” Briedis continues. “You can wear a white top and tie the look together with a scarf that has a print with the color of the pant. Or, you can create color blocking by pairing the pants with a boldly colored top. Just be careful not to wear the same color on top as on bottom. That’s too matchy.”
While Kate Middleton is a fashion darling, one of the princesses of prime time, the Megan Draper character on “Mad Men,” is setting trends with her embrace of mid-’60s fashion, like bold colors, geometric patterns and miniskirts. “We at Colette embrace the ’60s anyway, but it’s especially hot right now,” Esposito says. “Shift dresses are very popular and so are the more structured, retro dresses from Stop Staring and the colorful patterns from Veronica M.”
“Round necks and shift dresses and all of the patterns are very feminine and very mid-’60s,” Brockstedt says. “The way to make the looks modern is with accessories. You don’t want to look like you’re going to a Halloween party. So, pair those dresses with bags and shoes that have a bohemian or glamorous feel.”
Shoes and bags of all kinds can be found at Bellissima in Avalon, which is celebrating its new home. The fashion-forward footwear boutique carries Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Aquatalia and Bacio 61. Bellissima also has shoes and accessories for girls and boys. And, if Avalon is a bridge too far, shop Bellissima’s website, bellissimaavalon.com , where shoes are on sale for almost half off list price and shipping is free on full-price items.
While certain summer nights call for sky-high heels, being comfortable is one of the pleasures of summer fashion. Casual chic is the name of the game at Caroline Boutique in Cape May, which carries designers who specialize in summer style. “Feminine, colorful, eclectic” is how sales associate Vicky Maniotis defines the fashion focus of the boutique. “We have pieces that make women look good and feel good because they are comfortable. But it’s not the schlumpy kind of comfortable. It’s the put-together kind of comfortable.”
Caroline’s easy-breezy summer fashions include maxi dresses, maxi skirts and shift dresses from Michael Stars. The boutique also carries boho-glam clothes from Sanctuary and boho-surfer styles from Johnny Was. Minimalist brands like James Perse and Three Dots round out Caroline’s collection.
Schlump-free comfort is an option at Cleo’s, where Brockstedt has a happy supply of casual dresses and pants from Lilla P. and Marc Cain. “The maxi dress and skirt are the perfect summer pieces,” says Brockstedt. “In fact, I think they are replacing beachwear. You can throw on sandals and go to the beach, or put on jewelry and a nicer shoe and go to dinner.”
At Crysti, designs from Tribal, Lynn Richie and Salaam are flying through the door. And Briedis has another casual chic suggestion: wide-legged, printed bottoms. “It sounds very ’70s, but they are flowy and comfortable,” she says. “I have great printed pants from Frank Lyman and from Nally and Millie. Wear them with a tank top, or another kind of fitted top, so that you’re not wearing something big on the top and on the bottom.”
“The most important keys to summer fashion are to find styles that fit your body and fabrics that keep you cool,” Esposito says. “There are so many options now that there is no reason to look schlumpy at the beach, or anywhere else.”
Mimi James loves it when everything old is new again.
Colette, 900 Asbury Ave., Ocean City, 609.525.0911
Bellissima, 2513 Dune Dr., Avalon, 609.967.4343
Caroline Boutique, 400 Carpenter Ln., Cape May,
Cleo’s Boutique, 247 B Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, De., 302.227.6840
Crysti, 33 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, De., 302.227.2818