What to Pack for Your Summer Getaway

Are you breaking out in a sweat thinking about what to pack for your summer vacation? There’s no need to fret. Summer clothes are so lightweight and versatile, you won’t even need to check a bag, whether you’re spending a weekend at the beach or a week in Paris.

Think Ahead
For the weeklong trip, consider your daily activities. Are you going to be traipsing through ruins, dining at four-star restaurants, or visiting churches where bare shoulders aren’t permitted? “I start packing three to four days before my trip, so I have enough time to make sure I’m taking what I need and taking out things that aren’t necessary,” says Nada Vergili, owner and tour operator of Nada’s Italy Tours, who frequently travels overseas from her home in Charlotte, N.C.

Pick wrinkle-free fabrics that pack and launder easily, like cotton jersey. If you don’t already carry an on-the-go stain remover in your purse, slip one in.

Pack for Utility
What I call “fashionable utility pieces” are a must. They’ll freshen up looks you’ll be repeating and also serve the practical purpose of keeping you warm on a chilly night. Two of my favorites are an open-knit sweater with the perfect amount of see-through for easy layering; and a large, colorful scarf that’s convertible as a shawl, a cleverly tied halter or a head wrap. A boyfriend blazer is another must; it puts a smart spin on a casual tee and will also look chic worn over a sleeveless summer dress.

City Vacation

  • Four to six tops Include a couple of casual shirts or tees, one tank top and one sequin or beaded top for dress-up nights. That’s a minimum! Since tees and halters barely take up more room than a pair of undies, you can easily toss in a few more.
  • Two pairs of pants Trend alert! Think pastel ankle jeans in mint green or buttercup yellow. Add a second pair of pants that can be worn with your fancy top.
  • One pair of shorts Opt for a crisp, classic, flat-front version that can be dressed up or down.
  • One skirt Accordion pleats are very now; wear with a simple tee for an effortless, flirty look.
  • One little summery dress Go for all white, a light print or -- my pick this year -- a candy-colored solid.
  • One swimsuit Choose a suit that’s reversible for a two-in-one option.
  • Three pair of shoes Flats for walking, dressy heels, and flip-flops.
  • Accessories One belt; one cross-body bag; one clutch or small purse; one simple pendant necklace; one statement necklace. “The statement necklace dresses up basic outfits for evening,” says Lisa Colaw, owner of Elan Style, a popular Scottsdale, Ariz., boutique. “Pick a piece that has both silver and gold, and it will go with just about everything.”

Beach Getaway

Pare down the city packing list for a weekend at the shore. Omit the pants, skirt and two of the tops. Opt for flowing fabrics and lightweight cotton blends.

  • One dress Choose either white or floral.
  • One tee Opt for paper-thin cotton.
  • One tube or tank top Look for a playful, bright hue.
  • One pair of denim shorts
  • One open-knit sweater
  • One large scarf
  • Three pairs of shoes
  • Two swimsuits Select swimsuits that have mix-and-match tops and bottoms.
  • One high-low skirt Short in the front and longer in the back, these skirts serve triple duty as a dress and a beach cover-up with the simple addition of a belt. Find them at Forever 21 (for less than $20), Urban Outfitters, Madewell or your favorite department store.
  • One flouncy romper or a strapless maxi dress Both are easy to toss over your bathing suit for a poolside lunch or sunset cocktails, and they’re equally great as standalone pieces. You can browse dozens of styles at the fashion search engine ShopStyle.com.
  • Accessories Substitute a linen tote for the cross-body bag; it’s versatile for the beach or marketplace shopping. Keep accessories playful. Turquoise is brilliant against golden skin, and dangly earrings are perfect for bare shoulders. For a relaxed vibe, slip on beaded leather wrist wraps.

The Best Jeans for Your Body

Trying to find the best jeans to fit your body type used to mean an exasperating tour of dressing rooms at the shopping mall. Thankfully, denim manufacturers are finally getting hip to our hips … and other body parts. Today, they’re designing jeans to flatter curvy figures, long torsos, petite proportions and everything in between. Major fashion brands such as Gap, Banana Republic and Victoria’s Secret offer petite and tall sizes. Online fit guides, such as Levi’s Curve ID, direct shoppers to the cuts most suited to distinct shapes.

The new attention to fit means that shoppers can select jeans not only by style, but also by inseam, rise and leg opening. There’s a lot to know, so here’s a handy guide to finding the right jeans for your figure.

If You’re Apple-shaped
You have a larger waist and upper body with slimmer hips and thighs.

  • Choose midrise jeans, ideally with 1-2 percent spandex to avoid muffin top and spillover.
  • Avoid pleats and gathers; a flat front minimizes the waist.
  • Select boot-cut or flared jeans to balance a heavier upper body, says Jill Roberts, owner of three eponymous boutiques in Southern California.
  • Don’t despair: Upcoming fall styles feature wider flare-leg jeans that are better proportioned for the apple shape, says Hollywood stylist Tod Hallman.

If You’re Pear-shaped
You have curvy hips, bottom and thighs; a defined waist; and proportionately narrower shoulders and bust.

  • Chose moderately low-rise jeans, preferably with a boot cut or slight flares to balance proportions, says Roberts. She suggests Rag & Bone’s fit for customers with the pear’s typically shorter torso.
  • Look for new stretch blends (Lucky Brand has a 4 percent spandex blend) and shape-enhancing engineered fits -- such as those from Not Your Daughter’s Jeans or Yummie Denim by Heather Thomson -- to help visually contour the hips and thighs and prevent gaps in the waistband.
  • Opt for dark washes; they’re more slimming than light hues.
  • Choose patch back pockets with simpler stitching designs.

If You’re Rectangular
You have a flatter rear, an undefined waist, and shoulders and hips that are in equal proportion to your bottom half.

  • Select a higher rise (10-12 inches) that sits at or above the waist and balances a long torso.
  • Try the skinny and pencil jeans from J Brand, which tend to fit the typically longer rise of the rectangular figure, says Hallman.
  • Trouser-style jeans that are fuller through the thighs and sit higher on the hips can add elegant shape to a rectangular figure.
  • To add a curvaceous boost to thin legs, look for washes that are lighter in the seat and along the front of the thighs.

If You’re Petite
You’re less than 5 feet 4 inches with a small overall frame.

  • Investigate brands that cut small sizes, such as 7 For All Mankind’s size 23 waist, and CURRENT/ELLIOT’s size 22 waist. True Religion, Gap, Levi’s and Not Your Daughter’s Jeans offer petite sizes that are specifically proportioned for shorter women.
  • Beware of back pockets with elaborate embroidery or flaps that can overwhelm petite figures.
  • Find a good tailor who can hem jeans that would otherwise drag or crumple on top of your foot, says Hallman.
  • Flaunt it! This spring’s colorful skinny jeans look great on petite physiques.
  • A final note of advice from Hallman: “No body type looks great in all jeans. When you find a brand that works for you, stick with it!”

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/POCHITALIN

Day-to-night Chic in a Flash

When the time comes to go from work to wining and dining, all you’ll need are a few key pieces to take your look from corporate to completely chic.

A Standout Top
“Be it a sparkly cardigan or a well-fitting velvet blazer, an extra layer is often all it takes to give your office outfit that 'ready to party' look,” says bicoastal fashion stylist Aretha Busby. You’ll be amazed how much attention you get with a little shine and touchable texture. Just make sure what you’re wearing underneath is simple, like a black or ivory camisole rather than a busy print that will compete for attention.

Statement Jewelry
One oversized piece of costume jewelry will have everyone eyeing your ensemble. “Large studs or jaw-dropping dangling earrings, like chandeliers or drops, are perfect switch-it-up pieces to have on hand when you have to dash to a party,” Busby says. “They quickly dress up any look -- even jeans.”

A chunky cocktail ring; a long, layered necklace; or an armful of bangles are also good options. (Choose one to avoid accessory overkill.) Best of all, you can find stunning pieces -- especially more trendy looks -- for less than $10 at shops like H&M, Claire's and Kohl’s.

Flirty Shoes
Just ask Cinderella -- the chunkier the shoes, the less appropriate they are for a night on the town, especially when they’re navy or corporate brown. Trade in your trusty square toes for something more fun. “An irresistibly sexy shoe, like an animal-print slingback, metallic ballet flats or satin pumps can easily be stashed in a desk drawer for a quick change,” says Busby. “A kitten heel is also enough to give you a flirty presence.” No dangerous heights are needed!

A Dressy Scarf
“A rich-looking, textured scarf is a perfect last-minute add-on to your outfit,” says Busby. Wrapping a scarf around your neck is not only seasonably appropriate, it draws attention to one of the prettiest places on a woman -- the collarbone -- and it can cover a multitude of sins, including a double chin or a less-than-taut jawline.

Experiment with different ways of wearing a favorite scarf: loose and knotted, tied in a bow or wrapped around your neck with the loose ends hanging freely down your chest. “Stick to tones that are flattering on you yet still festive,” says Busby. Try cranberry or emerald during fall and winter. In spring and summer, go for a lightweight “summer” scarf in coral or turquoise prints. Classic black works year-round, especially in a glam light-velvet, crinkled silk or chiffon.

A Cute (Well-stocked) Clutch
Nothing says you made a mad dash out of the office like lugging your overstuffed workbag to cocktails. “Free your shoulder of all that weight and your mind of all the work worries by stowing a petite purse or evening clutch in your desk,” recommends Busby. Something black, metallic or embellished is always a good option, she adds.

Stocking your evening bag is just as important. The hair essentials? Hair-matching bobby pins and a travel-size hair spray, says Houston hairstylist James Phillips. “People don’t realize the power of a bobby pin,” he says. “You can hold your bangs back or move random pieces, go sideswept, or wrap a piece of hair around the holder of a low pony.” For the perfect party purse, add a stronger, nighttime fragrance like musk or tuberose, a soft kohl liner to intensify your eyes, a shimmering lip gloss and mints.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/dpaint

Get Gorgeous for a Cause

Every woman knows there’s nothing frivolous about looking her most beautiful. And that’s even truer when you choose a new hairstyle, shoes, jewelry or even a perfume in ways that help others. Here’s how to look good while doing good:

1. Donate Your Ponytail
Do you admire the short, chic ’dos of stars like Carey Mulligan, Michelle Williams and Halle Berry and wish you had the nerve to chop off your own flowing tresses? Here’s a way to get your courage up. If your ponytail is 8 inches or longer, donate it to the Beautiful Lengths program and it will be turned into a real-hair wig for a woman battling cancer. A partnership between Pantene and the American Cancer Society, the program has collected over 270,000 ponytails and turned them into 18,000 free wigs. (It takes at least six ponies to make a wig.) Got a few long-haired friends who can also use a new look? Host a Beautiful Lengths party and go get your locks cut together.

2. Clean out Your Closet
Refurbishing your wardrobe by getting together with your girlfriends for clothing swaps is a good idea. An even better idea: While you’re trading favorite togs with your BFFs, make a pile of party dresses and accessories to donate to an organization that provides prom dresses for girls who can’t otherwise afford them. (Google “donate my prom dress” and you’ll find organizations like The Princess Project, Donate My Dress and the Fairy Glam Project.) Make a second pile of suits, interview-appropriate separates, shoes, handbags and unopened cosmetics for Dress for Success, the national nonprofit organization that distributes outfits to disadvantaged women who are trying to enter the workforce.

3. Buy One, Give One
There’s no need to shop with a guilty conscience. Instead, seek out retailers that follow the “buy one, give one” concept pioneered by TOMS Shoes. With every pair of shoes you purchase, the company donates a pair to a needy child. (We have our eye on their fall corduroy wedges!) Need a new pair of specs? Buy a pair of $95 prescription glasses at the online boutique Warby Parker and they’ll provide a pair to someone in the world who doesn’t have access to good vision care. And as temperatures start to drop, you might be thinking of dressing up your bed with a new comforter. Purchase one through The Company Store and a homeless child will get one too.

4. Bejewel Yourself
You can deck yourself out in accessories and give to a good cause at the same time. The supermodel Iman has designed a chic baby-blue-and-white version of the lariat bracelets we all used to make in summer camp. All proceeds go to Save the Children’s efforts to treat malnourished children in Iman’s home country of Somalia and throughout East Africa. You can find the $35 Modelinia Beautiful Friends Forever bracelets at the Noir Jewelry online boutique. You’ll be hearing a lot about actress Rooney Mara -- star of the upcoming film The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo -- which will make the striking necklace she designed for eco-friendly jewelry line Kora even more of a conversation piece. Made from dyed recycled cow bone and wrapped with recycled brass and aluminum cuttings, the $95 necklace is crafted by local African artisans. One-hundred percent of the proceeds benefit families in Kenya’s impoverished slums. Find the necklace on the Kora Designs website.

5. Spritz on a Little Bieber
Admit it: You think Justin Bieber is kind of adorable. Now you can wear him behind your ears with Someday, his new scent for women. It’s a catchy, fresh everyday fragrance with notes of mandarin, juicy pear, jasmine, musk and vanilla. Better yet, the sweetness lingers even after the scent fades. All profits go to two of Bieber’s favorite charities: the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Pencils of Promise, which build schools in poverty-stricken areas throughout the world.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/DawnPoland

Layering Made Easy

Do you find yourself struggling to dress appropriately when going from the tropical weather outdoors -- even with the rainy season -- to air-conditioning that greets you the minute you start your morning commute? Fluctuating temperatures can present fashion dilemmas of the layering kind. How much is too much, and how can you pile on clothing stylishly?

“Start simple,” says Anne Bella, former fashion editor at Preview Magazine and in-house fashion stylist for the SM Department Store chain. “Practice with the items you already have: a sweater over a button-down shirt, a vest over a polo, or a cardigan over your favorite sundress.”

Building Your Best Base
Bella advises wearing a thin base layer to minimize bulging and bumps, and to keep a neat look overall. “Layering thin fabrics is a must in hot and humid places, especially if you’re doing it for fashion,” says Bella. “However, make sure your top layer serves its purpose and will keep you warm in air-conditioning.” Try a sheer lace top under a thin knit sweater or cardigan. “Avoid wool, fur or any thick fabric, unless you don’t mind looking like a (sweaty) fool.”

A great top-layer investment is a thinly lined navy blazer, which goes with practically everything. When traveling, it’s also an easy way to look dressed-up and stay warm and comfortable at the terminal, which tends to be colder than expected.

Cute and Classic Combos

Try these stylist-approved buildable wardrobe pairings:

  • For a classic preppy look, layer a lightweight sweater over a pique polo shirt.
  • On a breezy, rainy day, don a turtleneck shirt over or under a sundress.
  • For a no-frills layering option, wear a cardigan over a tank top. This also tempers the skimpy factor of a low-cut tank.
  • Feeling trendy? Try the androgynous look by layering a tuxedo jacket over a cocktail dress.

Make Use of Color
“Color is always key in layering. Make sure the ones you choose complement each other or have meaningful contrast,” says Bella. “Texture also makes things interesting: A sequined top under a knit cardigan creates a unique statement.” Speaking of cardigans, a pop of color can tone down the frump factor. Try one in mustard, tangerine or violet. If you work at a place where a loud-colored cardi isn’t exactly office-appropriate, try a classic hue in a modern boyfriend cut, and accessorize it accordingly with a vibrant cobalt skinny belt, a bejeweled pin or an elegant brooch.

As for accessories, you can go minimalist or all-out statement. “It all depends on your personal style and what type of layering you put together,” says Bella, who suggests wearing a contrasting leather cuff with a ladylike ensemble if you’re daring, or pairing a costume statement necklace with a simple T-shirt, jeans and sweater. “Accessories should anchor or complement a look,” she says.

Wrap It Up

If layering isn’t your thing, a chic and warm alternative is a scarf. Celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Camilla Belle and Jessica Alba may be responsible for popularizing scarves for all-year wear. Actress and singer Selena Gomez claims she wears hers even when outside temps reach 100 F!