The dress that makes the biggest splash at this summer's soiree might not be a dress at all. Swim cover-ups can make chic, comfortable and relatively inexpensive cocktail dresses, and they pack down to almost nothing in a suitcase.
The season's top styles - one-shoulder silhouettes, metallic hardware and rich jewel colors among them - make the easy transition from day to night because they're infused with a little everyday glamour.
Plenty of fashion trends are translating to swim, says Colleen Sherin, fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue, pointing to tribal prints, patterns and animal prints, embellishments and ruffles.
Carmen Marc Valvo made the leap from evening wear, his specialty, to swimwear, and says it was a seamless process. "Unlike sportswear, evening wear is very exposed, and swimwear is even more bare," he says. "They're similar."
Saks' Sherin notes that cover-ups are making up at least half of the swimwear business for some brands. The inspiration for so many of these cover-ups come straight from the catwalk, such as Michael Kors' chain-link belts and clear plastic panels, and Jacobs' ruffles.
But you're not paying runway prices - Valvo's dresses typically sell in the $500 to $1,000 range; a dress from the swimwear collection is closer to $150.Carmen Marc Valvo strapless jumpsuit comes in black, pink or turquoise; $150 at swimwearanywhere.com.Crocheted-back cover-up from Kenneth Cole Reaction, $54 at macys.com.
Milly's beach cover-up has a nautical feel, $325, at select Saks Fifth Avenue stores or saks.com.
Mesh cover-up by Gottex, $98, at select Nordstrom stores or nordstrom.com.
Juicy Couture strapless cover-up, $98 at select Bloomingdale's or bloomingdales.com.
All eyes on Wu
The world has been buzzing about Jason Wu since he designed first lady Michelle Obama's Inaugural Ball gown in 2009 - and now it'll be buzzing about his accessories, namely eyewear.
We first caught a glimpse of Wu's sunglasses at the designer's spring 2010 fashion show back in September - and we've been awaiting their arrival in stores ever since.
Just like Wu's frocks and separates, his line of frames ($255-$375 at ILORI in Manhattan or modoshop.com) has a vintage vibe, unique details and interesting colors. He says that if women are sick of basic blacks and browns, they should try a matte white frame like the Seberg from his new collection.
- JULIE GORDON