5 Must-Have Summer Fashion Items

The summer of 2012 has brought in a wave of fashions inspired by retro, ethnic and modern influences. Whatever your shape or size, there’s something in this season’s collection to flatter your figure. Here are five of the top trends:

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1. Peplums

If you’re under 65, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of the word “peplum,” let alone considered wearing it. A peplum is a short, gathered skirt attached to the waistline of a dress, jacket or top. This short skirt is typically made of the same material as the rest of the outfit to give it a pulled-together look. With a cinched, belted waist, a peplum gives you an instant hourglass figure. Thanks to the movie “Mad Men,” this retro look is making a big comeback.

For summer, sleeveless and halter peplum dresses and tops show off tanned shoulders, while peplum skirts put the focus on legs. On runways, designers are even pairing peplum jackets with matching shorts for summer.

Givenchy has reinvented the classic little black dress as a slender, pencil-skirted dress with wide lapels and a flared peplum. The designer’s dresses also come in stark white, one of this summer’s top colors.

2. Maxi dresses

Despite the yards of material, maxi dresses are incredibly cool and airy. Paired with flat, strappy sandals, the maxi dress is equally at home on a windswept beach and a restaurant in town.

For an ethnic flair, look for styles that have beaded necklines or tribal-inspired prints. Also popular are flowing maxi dresses in jumbo-print paisley. For an elegant evening style, try a silky maxi dress with a voluminous, flared skirt skimming the ankles and glistening beads decorating a plunging neckline. Supertrash has an eclectic collection of maxi dresses, including tiered or one-shouldered styles. The clothing designer has even created a form-fitting, strapless maxi tube dress reminiscent of the slinky tube tops of the 1970s.

3. Jumpsuits

If you equate jumpsuits with the uniforms of test pilots and mechanics, you haven’t seen the ultra feminine jumpsuits that top designers are creating for women in 2012. Designer Michael Kors has put together an amazing collection of jumpsuits for both day and evening wear. For work or travel, choose a slim-legged jumpsuit with a menswear collar or a draped hood. For evening, check out a jumpsuit in a silky or shimmering fabric with a plunging halter or a strapless neckline. For chilly restaurants or nightclubs, a halter-necked or strapless jumpsuit can be paired with a coordinating jacket.

4. Skinny cropped jeans in pretty colors or prints

This is not the summer to wear one pair of faded denim jeans with every top. Designers like Calvin Klein are showing skinny cropped jeans in bright jewel tones and bleached-out pastel colors. This slim profile is perfect with a loose top. Slender cropped pants are also showing up in floral prints for summer. Wondering how to wear cropped jeans? You can dress up any of these styles with a tall pair of platform heels or dress them down with a pair of sneakers.

5. Asymmetrical hemlines

Asymmetry lends an air of modern chic to clothing styles this summer. Designers are showing asymmetrical dress hemlines in two ways. One way is to wear the front short and the back long. Some have dubbed this style “the mullet dress” after the ubiquitous men’s haircut of the 1980s. The other way to wear the asymmetrically hemmed dress is to wear one side short and the other long, also called a diagonal hemline. DKNY envisions the asymmetrical hemline as a diaphanous, tiered creation worn with a 1960s-style floppy sunhat.

Dresses aren’t the only fashions that are being created with asymmetrical hemlines. They’re also showing up in loose-fitting, lightweight summer jackets and tops, perfect with a skinny pair of jeans.

Michelle is a writer for Adventures in the Stiletto Jungle shopping blog, which has been delivering daily fashion and beauty shopping advice since 2006.

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