How To Wear Summer's Biggest Trends The Right Way

We'll start off by saying that there is no "right" or "wrong" way to wear something. You put a garment on, and — bam! — you're wearing it. That part is simple. It gets a little more complicated, though, when you're dealing with trends: Your staples may fit like a glove, but a foreign silhouette might not groove as well with the rest of your closet. It could be the construction (under- or overdetailing that straddles the fine line of what looks chic versus cheap), or something about the shape that doesn't quite work.

During the winter, staying warm is the name of the game: As long as you're layering, you're doing it right. However, summertime (and the limb freedom that comes with it) is a whole different story. With many, many more trends to keep up with, there's ample room for play — and for some trial and error.

This particular season, too, is all about the throwback: pieces you knew and loved way back when, rising from the ashes to seize their rightful place in your wardrobe. So the question becomes how we can seamlessly incorporate these long-forgotten items — the cargo short! the tube dress! the belt bag previously known as a fanny pack! — without looking ironic.

To maximize the aforementioned trial and minimize the error, we pulled some of the must-have items that pop up during the warm months — and show you how to nail 'em every time.

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Shawl Cardigan
Don't: Let's leave the unnecessary fringe at the Coachella campgrounds, where it belongs. The stringy hem might make sense at a music festival, but is a little too fussy for hot-days-turned-chilly-nights. In terms of prints, avoid the graphic florals and faux tapestries: Normally, we're all about the eye-catching patterns, but, on this particular canvas, they don't make sense — all scrunched up at the sleeves, a little worn out from so many consecutive #OOTDs.
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Do: Seek out fitted sleeves, so that the jacket has an almost blazer-like look. The open judo silhouette will play down the structure of the topper for a more casual, off-the-clock vibe.
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Do: While a relaxed fit isn't out of the question, opt for a simple kimono silhouette. This glittery style is eye-grabbing for all the right reasons — a playful shimmer and texture — and not because of overbearing detailing.
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Do: Highlight the torso with a wide belt. Most judo jackets we've been eyeing this season come with a wraparound detailing that defines the figure, whereas the rest of the silhouette is bulky with clean lines. The waist accent adds a feminine touch.
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Do: Crop the sleeves if you're going for a longer cut. A knee-skimming jacket can still be worn in July — there'll inevitably be a surprise chilly night among the sweltering days — as long as other details in the construction accommodate ventilation.
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Fanny Pack
Don't: It's tempting to fully commit to the throwback here. But we're asking you to resist the magnetic, nostalgic pull of a plastic buckle strap and other telltale signs of the '90s. Instead of digging through your parents' garage to find your original fanny pack, upgrade its hands-free convenience to the belt bag — fashion's heroic rebranding effort for the long-forgotten accessory.
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Do: Add a pop of color. You're making a statement by wearing a belt bag, anyway, so you might as well commit.
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Do: Ramp up your Canadian tuxedo into a denim three-piece suit.
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Do: Attempt a weak pass at blending in with sleek camo. Alexander Wang's signature texture looks just as good on your waist as it does draped on your shoulder in bucket-bag form.
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Do: Upgrade the waist strap. You’re a grownup now, and you're much better than a scratchy, plastic belt.
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Do: Integrate structure. Part of the problem with the fanny packs of your past is how flimsy they were. This belt back is almost architectural, with its hard-look shape and gray, black, and white colorblocking.
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Cargo Shorts
Don't: As much as we want to show off how practical our bottoms can be — especially in a world where most dresses don't have pockets, for shame! — you'll want to avoid pockets that are too noticeable, since this will make the trousers look bulkier. Also, eschew the traditional cream and beige colorways, as these too closely recall our summer-camp uniforms from back when.
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Do: Colorblock your way into masking the "cargo" of the cargo shorts. The resin-coated pockets blend right in with the rest of the almost-leather-look contrast.
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Do: Try a foldover waist as a way to rejigger a tired silhouette — this looks best over a swimsuit on a beach getaway.
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Do: Lengthen the leg of your short. With a simple tank or T-shirt up top, turn your shapely bermuda cargo bottom into the centerpiece of your outfit.
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Do: Get green. For a more traditional cargo silhouette, try an olive-hued style — it feels more refined than the beige bottoms you have stored in a box somewhere.
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Strapless Tube Dress
Don't: When it comes to the short strapless dress, we err more on the side of Victoria Beckham in 2015 than Posh Spice in 1996. That means we avoid the barely there, formfitting tube style more akin to club kids than the free-spirited summer children we hope to incarnate. Instead, we adopt a more-is-more mentality: less nostalgia in favor of more structure, more color, and a tad more fabric down the thigh. The key is, then, to bring this fancy, put-together silhouette into daytime wear.
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Do: Yes, even the fanciest invest piece can be dressed down for your day-to-day. After all, if you're saving to splurge on such a lovely item, why leave it hanging in your closet? Try this fit-and-flare midi for summer weddings and Saturday brunches — the latter of which requires your go-to superstars and a casual denim topper.
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Do: Show off your unbeatable outfit coordination by matching the picnic blanket. More figure-hugging than the average fit-and-flare, this bandeau-top midi skirt bubbles up right below the waistline to create an illusion of shape.
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Do: Find a flared skirt or other structural details that add volume to the silhouette.
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Do: If you're going for a Posh-inspired look, keep the hem short but the silhouette a little loose. This silk minidress creates a delicate line down the figure but doesn't trace out every natural curve and crevice in your body.
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Do: Undertake a measured throwback with an all-denim minidress. The sweetheart neckline is feminine and playful, and the short, flouncy skirt makes it an obvious choice for those really hot summer days.
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Cuff
Don't: You'll want to avoid too much clunkiness on your wrist. So, avoid cuffs that are big on details, like nonmetal colors or sculptural embellishment, focusing instead on a singular feature to make the statement. Too much fuss cheapens the sleek, minimalist look you want to achieve with the hardware, anyway.
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Do: Double up with a singular layered cuff. This curved band comes with a thinner, metal bangle to add a three-dimensional element to your #armparty.
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Do: Ditch the perfect-circle convention in favor of a snap-in closure, to switch up the geometry of your jewelry box.
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Do: If you’re going big on the hardware, keep it sleek and simple. This cylinder cuff is a conversation starter taking up prime real estate on your wrist.
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Do: Open up — your conventions on summer wear, and your cuff.
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Do: Integrate accents, as long as the silhouette still feels clean. The ball-capped ends on this open cuff add more geometry to it, without overbearing the simple band.
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One Shoulder
Don't: Summertime is all flowy everything — but, when it comes to exposed shoulders, you want to avoid the overly draped look for the partial shoulders. After all, the neckline should make sense, and not look like the designer simply ran out of fabric.
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Do: Go full crop, chopping off the hem of your top, too. A formfitting, one-shoulder top optimizes breeziness by exposing more skin while simultaneously upping the nostalgia factor. I mean, it doesn't get more late-'90s Britney than that.
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Do: Draw attention to the neckline with a banded trim. The stitching on this blouse creates thick bands across the neckline and the hem, devising the slightest of contrasts.
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Do: Let it flow. Keep the shoulder detailing slick and streamlined, and let the fabric cascade down for a flowy, almost toga-esque look.
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Do: Play around with the neckline. With its sharp edges and asymmetrical finish, this origami-style top puts a sculptural spin on a normally unstructured silhouette.
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