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If You Like Piña Coladas...

via H&M

Dressing down has never been my strong suit. Picture me, as a 6 year-old, at the beach, in my sparkly bathing suit, with my ruffled plaid purse slung over my shoulder (yes, it was as awesome as it sounds). You could not rip that thing off me no matter how big the waves got or how hard my parents tried. And boy did they try. I couldn't help myself, I was born to accessorize. And yet, I've witnessed more blinged-out beach babes and foundation-plastered trophy wives at the gym than I care to count. So, over the years, through trial and error, I've learned the art of subtlety when it comes to casual style. The goal (always and forever) is looking like you care, but not too much. Never too much. 

Whether you plan on hitting the beach, cottage or pool-deck this summer, swimwear is way more than just swimsuits. If you're like me, you probably spend 86% of your time out of the water with your perfectly-pedicured feet planted firmly on solid ground. Whether lounging on a chaise reading a smutty beach read or making sand castles with your littles, a banging beach wardrobe is within your reach. From sunnies to cover-ups to an Instagram-ready beach towel, the stores are stocked with pretty finds to make your next trip to the water may more stylish. 

Want to make a big splash this summer? You'll be the belle of the beach in these sweet summer finds. Hope you're having an amazing July so far. Sigh..don't you wish time would slow down just a little?


STYLE CRUSH | The 15 Finds You Need in Your Life, Like, Now.

via H&M

Summer dressing for most of us goes a little something like this: shorts, tees, the occasional dress, done. After so many seasons of being zipped in and buttoned-up, it feels like such a relief to just chill out with our wardrobe for a bit. And as long as our pedis stay intact, it doesn't really matter what we put on our feet, assuming we even remember to put our shoes on. After all, our minds have our feet planted firmly on a beach, dock or pool deck somewhere. Okay, here's the truth: my dream summer wardrobe would actually be me, with Candace Swanepoel's perfect bod, in a bikini, at the lake, for 2 straight months. (With Channing Tatum. Reenacting Magic Mike XXL.) Ahem. I digress.

But then work gets in the way. And Re.Spon.Si.Bi.Li.Ties like grocery shopping, and camp drop-offs and indecent exposure laws. And suddenly, our daydreams of prancing around barefoot in a bathing suit come crashing down. We still have to get dressed and we still have to plan out our outfits, even in the summer. So, might as well make the best of it, right?

I'm seriously crushing on some new summer finds and want to share them with you. Each of these pieces will help inspire your summer wardrobe to new heights. Because sometimes, all it takes is a beautiful skirt, a bright tasseled necklace or an on-point pair of sunglasses to make the daily dressing grind a little more fun. 

Happy summer! 

HOW TO WEAR THEM | Each season, designers decree a new must-expose body part. Yup, it's a thing. While exposed midriffs were a huge trend last summer, the focus has shifted to shoulders. A flirty off-the-shoulder top is perfect if you've recently chopped your hair, if you're wearing solid bottoms and want to add interest to your outfit, or if you love to look over your shoulder, red carpet-style, while the paparazzi (ie. your husband) snaps your pic. 

OUR PICK | Design Lab Off-the-Shoulder Crop Top, $48, Hudson's Bay

HOW TO WEAR IT | This scarf is so cute we want to marry it. No matter what you wear this summer, from shorts and a tee, to white jeans and a chambray tank, to a little red dress, this scarf will play a starring role. Compliments guaranteed. 

OUR PICK | Star Print Scarf, $27.96, GAP

HOW TO WEAR THEM | There is nothing worse than whiling away the afternoon on a patio, drinking a few Coronas, and sharing a platter of nachos with your baes. Oh wait, that's the best. It's the aftermath that sucks. Too-tight shorts that only get shorter and tighter as the day goes on, turning your perfect afternoon into a self-conscious examination of your friends' Instagram feeds later on that day. Summer's the perfect time to loosen up in a pair of adorable pleated cotton shorts - forgiving and flattering and perfect for keeping your cool on any steamy summer day. Love!

OUR PICK | Wide Cotton Shorts, $29.99, H&M

HOW TO WEAR THEM | Knee-high gladiators are a big deal this summer but I can't picture actually wearing most of them. Anything too dark, too high-heeled or too buckled just feels like I'm auditioning for Game of Thrones. The soundtrack plays in my head and I can't get it out. Kit Harrington wearing gladiators (aka Westeros Cruisers) also has a habit of getting in my head. Anyway, these gladiators are the perfect colour, the prettiest soft suede and even though they're a statement, they're as subtle as you can get for knee-high gladiators. I want. Okay, fine, maybe these will make me feel a little bit like the Khaleesi. Is that a bad thing? And if none of these references make any sense to you, WHY ARE YOU NOT WATCHING GAME OF THRONES?? If you don't subscribe to HBO, get seasons 1, 2 & 3 here

OUR PICK | Suede Gladiator Sandals, $120, ALDO

HOW TO WEAR THEM | This season, it is all about either really short choker-style necklaces, or super long swingy styles. I love the idea of a pre-layered necklace because it takes the guesswork out of accessorizing. I'm a stylist and even I like to turn my brain off as much as possible in the summer months. My second necklace crush of the moment is anything with tassels. The brighter, the more playful, the better. And neither of these styles will break your summer budget. 

OUR PICKS | Tiered Abalone & Horn Necklace, $24, American Eagle; Tassel Necklace, $15, ALDO

HOW TO WEAR IT | A red handbag is one of the easiest ways to make your summer outfits stand out. While this particular orangey-red is perfect for summer, I love that you can bust this baby out all year long. Wear it with head-to-toe white and taupe sandals, a chambray dress, and even with a mix of black, leopard print and tan. Not trying to be a control freak about your outfits but seriously, can you picture how amazing you'll look? If clutches aren't your thing, there are loads of perfect bright red bags at Danier right now. 

OUR PICK | Perforated Leather Clutch, $32, GAP

HOW TO WEAR THEM | Okay Jackie O., we know how glam you feel in your oversized shades. And I'm not going to hate on you for sticking with your tried-and-true. But whether you're 25 or 65, you need to pick up a pair of round sunglasses this summer. These faux bois (sounds so much better than fake wood, doesn't it?) shades are only $12 but they'll make you look like you know what's up. 

OUR PICK | Faux Bois Sunglasses, $12, ALDO

HOW TO WEAR IT | No idea what to wear to your next gallery opening, wedding shower, or Sunday brunch? Looking to shake up your 9-to-5 and burn that suit you've been rocking for the past 6 months. Then you need this stunner of a skirt. I'd wear it with a crisp white button-down shirt, sleeves rolled up, of course, matte red lips (Sephora) and a pair of black or nude pointy-toe heels. Prepare yourself for, 'You got that at H&M??!'

OUR PICK | Printed Midi Skirt, $59.99, H&M

HOW TO WEAR IT | Caked-on foundation, clumpy concealer and spotty, dirty-looking bronzer will ruin your glowy summer look faster than you can say 'Happy Canada Day!' No makeup-makeup is the key, so head to Sephora and ask a pro to help you find the perfect shade, watch the web tutorial (click on link below) and get ready to look fresh and dewy all summer. Worth every single penny.

OUR PICK | bareMinerals Get Started Kit, $60, Sephora

HOW TO WEAR IT | For those days when you can't squeeze in a blow-dry, a chic little fedora will be your hair's best friend. Put your hair into a low ponytail or chignon, throw on a pair of sunglasses, put on a perfect jersey black tank dress (see below) and toss on this fedora. You'll look so cute you won't even be able to stand it. I highly recommend doing this, heading to Starbucks and placing your order with an accent. You weel look zo chic, zey might even give you a grande instead of a tall. 

OUR PICK | Straw Fedora, $25, American Eagle

HOW TO WEAR IT | This dress is errrthang. I personally would be wearing a pair of Spanx underneath to smooth out everything but if you've been committed to your FitBit and hot yoga, you might not need to bother. Wear it with a pair of lug sole sandals, block-heeled city sandals or shower slides. You see? Simple is sexy in summer. 

OUR PICK | Jersey Racer Back Midi Dress, $49.95, Le Château

HOW TO WEAR IT | Do not, I repeat, do not let a plastic bag ruin your look. A leather crossbody will take you from the market to the mall in style. Make sure it's big enough to hold everything you might want to pick up and don't be afraid to go for a go-with-everything black & white print. Might I suggest python?

OUR PICK | Leather Crossbody, $104, GAP

HOW TO WEAR THEM | Repeat this mantra after me - I am better than flip flops. These lug sole sandals will elevate your look this summer - everything from the gold buckle to the edgy sole to the subtle cognac banding will make you look like you care, even if you don't. The bonus? These sandals are super comfortable so you won't have to cut short any of your summer adventures. 

OUR PICK | Lug Sole Sandals, $80, ALDO


SUMMER STYLE CLASS | 3 Must-Try Trends

via Stradivarius

Summer is nearly here and while I've been lusting after the season's top trends for months now, many of them haven't felt all that feasible until now. I mean, busting out floral shorts on a frigid day just didn't seem right. And all that girly gingham really only makes sense during picnic weather.

For Spring '15, designers sent loads of tempting trends down the runways but as we all know, so many of them look better in performance than in practice. Luckily this summer, it's easy for even the most cautious dressers to diffuse the big trends down into outfits you can actually wear. 

Florals can feel too precious but the right blooms make for the perfect summer look. I'm loving the floral high-waisted shorts at H&M right now - add a chic white shirt and block-heeled city sandals and you're good to go for the Best Lunch-Date Look Ever.

The Seventies has been the biggest trend of the season so far but I like my disco-era in small doses. You dig? Round sunglasses, wooden accents and clean, pale denim feel like just enough to give off the right vibe. I'll be rocking summer's must-wear shirt - the short-sleeved chambray shirt - with my white girlfriend jeans and easy slides (another huge summer trend, btw).

And while stripes are a perpetual summer staple, the most fresh print of summer is gingham. The picnic print is back in a big way and will ensure you'll look right on point this season. I love the idea of a sweet gingham dress worn with sneakers or gladiators. I've shown a mildly risky pair but if you feel like pushing it even further, I'd highly recommend a pair of super tall gladiators this summer. 

Check out the looks below for some hot-weather style inspiration. Happy (summer) shopping! 

Michael Kors Spring '15. - via Getty Images

1. Wide Eyelet Blouse, $34.95, H&M | 2. High-Waist Floral Shorts, $14.95, H&M | 3. City Sandals, $70, ALDO | 4. Baby Banff Woven Bag, $248, Roots | 5. Gold Ring Stack, $10, ALDO.

via APC

1. 1969 Girlfriend Jeans, $79.95, GAP | 2. Criss-Cross Slides, $50, ALDO | 3. Round Tortoise Shell Sunglasses, $20, American Eagle | 4. Turnlock Small Leather Tote, $395, Coach | 5. 1969 Denim Popover, $54.95, GAP

Oscar de la Renta Spring '15. via Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images

1. Michael Kors Round Sunglasses, $170, Sunglass Hut | 2. Design Lab Gingham Fit & Flare Dress, $88, Hudson's Bay | 3. Gladiator Sandals, $60, ALDO | 4. Pink Pebble Leather Satchel, $99, Danier | 5. Crystal Flower Earrings, $12, ALDO