Renew, refresh, replace — these are the keys to keeping your wardrobe spring-fresh all year long. You might get away with wearing those little black dresses way past their prime, but here are a few fashion basics that you should consider replacing now — before summer heats up and you're a hot mess.
—White jeans. They are a staple of warm-weather wardrobes — the quintessential bottom to go with all your summer tops and jackets. Depending on how often you wear and wash them, however, white jeans can go dingy on you fast, yellowing quickly.
In fact, if you do find a pair you like, go ahead and buy several pairs. You'll be glad you always have a fresh pair. Let's face it; a drop or two of sangria at the pool party might do those white jeans in for good. Tip: Keep a Clorox bleach pen in your purse for just such wardrobe emergencies.
The newest way to wear white jeans? Cropped flares. But you can't beat boot-cuts. They are always a flattering choice.
—White shirts. If these classics are part of your everyday work wardrobe, then you're probably always searching for the best way to spend your money on the labels that give you the biggest bang for your buck and hold up to dirt and grime, as well as dry cleaning. Spending major money on white shirts might not be the best option. Instead, look for inexpensive brands that still provide quality in classic shapes updated with fresh details. Lace, pleats and cuffs in textured cottons are lightening up summer suits. And the newest white topper? The classic polo shirt is making a comeback. Check them out at Lacoste, Wal-Mart and everywhere in between.
Update white shirts and tees by teaming them with one rugged or "tough" fashion item to give them the instant cool factor. Pair a classic white button-down with a pair of distressed denim boyfriend jeans or a long, flowing floral skirt. Think new combinations — tailored clothes mixed with bohemian flair.
—Swimwear. This one is a no-brainer. Most of us know that when summer vacation rolls around, we often rely on that one swimsuit that we've worn for years because we still haven't gotten around to shopping for a new one. We're still searching for the perfect suit anyway.
But if your swimsuit (or any body part) is starting to sag and drag, start shopping now. Browse the Internet first to get some ideas. (Retro suits are back in a big way! High-waisted two-pieces. Yes!) Then spend a few Saturdays in the swimwear trenches at your favorite boutique or department store.
And if you just can't let go of that old suit, then at least check out all the new cover-ups. Swim dresses, complete with SPFs of 50-plus, are just a click away at http://www.athleta.com.
—Shoes. Flip-flops flipping out? Sandals a little run down at the heel? When summer rolls around, our feet come out of hiding. But try to give them a little support. Don't slide through summer in cheap shoes. The $1 rubber thongs may blow out on you fast. You can't go wrong with the new "old-style" Keds or Sperry Top-Siders for wear and tear. There are also lots of stylish sandals with ortho technology available at http://www.vionicshoes.com.
—Handbags. I love to buy a new straw tote when summer rolls around. It's time to leave the heavy leathers behind, but if you insist on sticking to one bag until it falls apart, then make sure you replace it before it explodes in the security line at the airport. There are lots of sturdy new beach totes that go way beyond basic and will hold lots of travel or work necessities. Or downsize altogether and check out the new slimmed-down purse pouches that will hold your phone and a few other essentials.
—Workout wear. Sweat. Need I say more? Unless you do yoga by yourself on a private beach, you need to replace workout gear often. Ditto for hiking gear. Be considerate of your fellow gymgoers and trekkies.
Spend the most money on those basics that don't show so much wear and last for years — the tailored suits, cocktail dresses, evening coats, etc. — and save money on the disposable white jeans, shirts and accessories that start to show wear fast. Never let "shabby chic" — even in the summer — be a phrase you use to describe your wardrobe. Refresh now.
To find out more about Sharon Mosley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.