JUNUARY'S dreary conditions have pushed summer fashions to the back of the closet.
Now that summer is finally here - officially, with Wednesday's solstice marking the longest day of the year and unofficially, with the promise of sun in the days ahead - it's time to dress like it.
Nothing feels more like summer than wearing a dress, says Katie O'Brien, owner of Plum, the locally based manufacturer and retailer of women's clothing.
Plum bucks the trend for "fast fashion" by producing its Simone line of dresses right here in Vancouver. Only 80 dresses are created per print and sold only in Plum's nine stores including the one in Central Lonsdale.
Popular dress styles this summer include knee-length shifts with designer details like bowed waists, scooped backs and wrap fronts. Prints and fabrications include denim looks, mini florals and a graphic bird print evocative of Miu Miu's popular runway collection for spring.
Plum will be clearing out summer fashions at a sidewalk sale this Thursday through Sunday, June 21-24. The boutique will have clothing items for sale at 20 to 70 per cent off the original price. Among the bargains: coloured jeans from Mavi and Judy Blue for $60; Point Zero jackets, belts, scarves and jewelry at half-price, and Plum-designed Tobias jackets for $79.
In store at Reitmans in Capilano Mall are fresh prints, lightweight knits and plenty of bright colour everywhere. Seethrough yarns, open stitches and crochet details define summer's prettiest knits. Floral prints abound, from soft and pretty abstracts to bold and bright tropicals. Vibrant hues range from sunny yellows and vivid oranges to cool blues and brilliant greens. In footwear, the wedge heel is key with an emphasis on materials with a natural look, such as cork and rope.
Trending at Unity Clothing Co. right now is the high-low or "mullet" skirt, named for a hemline that's shorter in the front and longer in the back - just like the haircut. Also popular are light summer dresses by Blue Pepper, coloured jeans, denim shorts from Dish, cuttingedge designs from Birds of a Feather and accessories that are edgy yet feminine, modern, according to the store's co-owner Lori Simcox. Arriving in store soon and just in time for the beach are neonhued flip-flops from Dept. The clothing store, located adjacent to the Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier, is throwing a first anniversary party, 6: 30 to 9: 30 p.m. next Thursday, June 28, with savings of 25 per cent on everything in the store. As well, there will be live music, a candy bar, quick hair fixes by the styling team from Supernova the Salon and makeup touchups by Karmaface Cosmetics.
Across the street at Second Wave surf and skate shop, 139 Lonsdale Ave., owner Neil Callaghan is doing brisk business moving an article of clothing he'd rather not see flying out the store. "Unfortunately, we've been selling a ton of raincoats," he says.
Popular for guys this summer are Sitka tank tops and singlets with subtle Vnecks (not deep Vs) in super soft materials like organic cotton and bamboo and "amphibious" shorts like Rip Curl's Boardwalks series - "the best swim shorts ever, but they look like a dress short."
WEwood eco watches are super hot. "We've sold hundreds," Callaghan says of the high-tech timber timepieces whose maker plants a tree for every sale.
Electric brand sunglasses in brights with "crazy colour lenses" are trending, especially the post-modern Tonette and classic Knoxville styles, as are Brixton hats in fedora and wide-brim styles, and local shoe company Native's lowprofile Jericho and chunkier Miller slip-ons in brightly coloured foam rubber.
For women at Second Wave, there are Sitka sundresses in bamboo or organic cotton and reversible swimwear from Volcom. A top seller is Sitka's Fauna striped scoop-neck dress. "Stripe action is killing it for us," says Callaghan.
Key looks at Spanner, a Toronto-based clothing collection available at BJ's in Dundarave and retailers across Canada, are bold blocks of colour, beach-influenced neutrals, tie-dye prints and looser, languid shapes. Beaten and washed fabrics are played against metallics. Fashion denim, sporty mesh and parachute cotton echo a casual undercurrent. Shirtdresses, tunics with asymmetric hemlines and wide-leg pants are pivotal pieces for summer.