Five Summer Essentials

Whenever I think of Summer, certain must-haves instantly come to mind.  Trends come and go (hi-low dresses, crop tops, gaucho pants, oh my!), but each year like clockwork there are five key essentials that jump to the front of my shopping list. Swimwear

I love bathing suits, and over the seasons I've acquired more than my fair share of them.  This year I am excited that one-pieces and retro high-waisted tankinis have made a comeback, as there is something seriously seductive about not baring it all at the beach.  In fact, I love one-pieces so much that for Christmas my boyfriend gave me this Mara Hoffman - which I debuted for the first time last month in Florida.  I love the plunging neckline and open back, not to mention the vibrant colors (thankfully they distract nicely from my less than desirable lack of a tan).


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Mara Hoffman Pow Wow Swimsuit - $275

In addition to kaleidoscope-like patterns, I am also coveting suits in color-block and ocean-inspired prints.


Left panel: Gottex, $178.  Right top panel: Forever21, $25.  Right bottom panel: Seafolly, $163


(Ah-mahzing) Totes

Nothing says "let's go to the beach" better than a new summer bag.  This year I wanted something versatile that I could use for work, but something that would also be a fun addition to weekend outfits. After spending an unhealthy amount of time pouring over options online, I found the perfect all-in-one tote in this Sondra Roberts laser-cut carry-all, and for just the right price, too!


Sondra Roberts Patent Tote, $178

Though I adore the turquoise and white, I decided to go with black for the reason that I wanted the bag to be both chic and work-appropriate.  In addition to the patent leather cut-out pattern that makes it incredibly easy to clean, the tote comes with a detachable linen lining - making it the perfect accessory for trips to the beach.  With this gem on your shoulder, there's no need to worry about sand floating around in the bottom of your bag long after you've left the ocean!


Nail Varnishes

I love nail polish all year round, but there's something about summer that just begs for color.  This season is no exception, except (ha) that in addition to the bright teals, purples, and blues spotted on the runway I have also developed a soft spot for opal-esque white.  I blame Carey and Leo entirely - the pearlescent hue of OPI's Kyoto transports me back to the decadent shores of West Egg instantly.

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OPI in Kyoto, $8


Essie Resort 2013: $17


Sunnies are a staple accessory regardless of the season (#stopthewrinkles).  There's all kinds of literature out there on how to find the best frames for your face, but I like to keep it simple and generally abide by just one rule, which is to choose eyewear that is approximately opposite to the shape of your face.  For example: if you have a round face, wearing massive circular sunglasses à la the Olsen twins will only exacerbate the roundness.  Instead opt for frames that are more square.  Conversely if you have a well-defined jaw (think Jackie O), the rounder the better.  Oval faces look great wearing glasses that are more rectangular or cat-eye in shape, to create the illusion of a wider visage.


Clockwise from top: Marc JacobsDolce & GabbanaBvlgariMichael Kors, Chanel


Hair is not something I only think about during the summer.  Nonetheless, as soon as the weather warms up I find myself setting seriously warped expectations for what my hair should look like while lounging poolside.  Perhaps it is the Victoria's Secret mags that get delivered to my door by the bundle with each model perfectly foiled, highlighted, and styled - or perhaps my desire for shiny voluminous tresses are rooted in something deeper and more psychologically damaging: Disney movies.  All I can say is:

Summertime Hair Expectation:


Summertime Hair Reality:


Sad, yes.  Yet here I am again, another summer is upon us and my urge to up the ante hair-wise has been raging for about a month.  After Googling different summer styles and downloading more hair try-on apps then I care to admit (hint: InStyle Hairstyle Try On for iPads is the best there is), I decided to give ombré a go. First I thought I'd just watch a couple of YouTube tutorials and attempt it myself, after all how hard can it be to dye just the ends of your hair in a messy, texturized fashion?  Turns out very - and if you don't do it right you run the risk of looking less boho-chic and more like your stylist left town and you haven't bothered to find another - for six months.  So instead I called my salon and made an appointment with my girl Samantha Kirklen at Liquid Hair Studios in the South End.

I love Sam for many reasons; she has a quirky and honest sense of humor that makes her fun to be around and easy to talk to while in the chair, and she is very very good at what she does.  But most of all I love how well she listens.  Too many stylists just assume they know what you want - I cannot tell you how many times I've heard "Don't worry doll, you're going to have Gisele's hair by the time you walk out of here!" only to end up with Florence Henderson two hours and $150 later.  (Actually that only happened once, but believe me once was enough).  Yet with Sam I never have to worry - if I tell her I want to try parting my hair in the middle or going for really voluminous side-bangs, she gets to work and always takes the time to ask "is this enough?" before cutting more.  I simply love this approach, because while I do recognize that it is just hair and it does grow back, it's really nice to feel like you're in control of your own style even when you aren't holding the scissors.

Anyway, I told Sam before my appointment that I wanted to try ombré and some gentle highlights to frame my face, and brought her a few pictures of what I had in mind.  A few hours later I emerged - teased, dyed, rinsed, combed, cut, dried, and styled - and I could not have been happier.  In fact, a month later and I'm already plotting my second visit.  "I want more!" the summertime hair urge yells inside me - "More!"


Clockwise from top left: Twisted bun after ombré, Me at the salon waiting for the dye to do its job, Me at the beach post-ombré, Before pic in Miami (look how dark!!), Me in the sink at the salon while Sam brushed out the dye, Me stylin' before dinner last weekend. 

Love it or leave it, every girl dreams of her perfect summer 'do.  If you're anything like me and want to try something new this season, pick up the phone and give Sam a call - and then tell Ariel and those other Disney queens right where they can put it.

Happy Summer!