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Cool resort wear can warm up a vacation

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012

For fashionable travelers, it's resort season, a time for some rest and relaxation -- and a matching wardrobe of comfortable, stylish clothing and accessories.

Designers are happy to accommodate with bright and bold colors, as well as floral and fun patterns, which will add a little zip to that cruise, tropical island visit or beach vacation.

"Bright colors are a sure-fire way to lift your mood, but I also think resort collections have a dreaminess about them," says Project Accessory's Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti. "They almost always have you planning your next vacation or weekend getaway. Resort is also the best excuse to get a head start on revamping your spring wardrobe. And because it's a narrow season and sells out quickly, you can usually stock up on items that not many other women will have."

There is a certain part of society that considers resort a third collection to go with spring-summer and fall-winter, says Soo Buchanan, founder and president of Buchanan and Zavala. This is the first time she has designed a resort collection for Neiman Marcus online.

Color schemes contain bright oranges and fluorescent pinks. Most of the fabrics in her resort line are knits, Buchanan says, and are created from scratch using Italian yarn.

"What is nice about knit is, it is comfortable, and it travels well," Buchanan says. The collection is sophisticated, stylish, yet simple, and comfortable for a woman's fast-paced lifestyle. The base hue is a modern version of beige.

Everything from handbags to shoes will have some color this resort season. Shoe designer Anyi Lu says her resort footwear line is inspired by the stylish, colorful flavors of Tuscany with shoes that embody simple, yet exquisite living.

"We are finding women want shoes that combine comfort and style," Lu says. "And they want a shoe or sandal such as a linen-textured leather in a warm coral hue, with a woven leather at the sling and wedge.

"People and designers are playfully pairing prints, textures and colors that, a couple of seasons ago, would have been considered clashing -- to beautiful effect," she says.

Vera Bradley is introducing a limited resort line on Feb. 23 that includes totes, beach towels, sandals and a sarong.

"Many Vera Bradley fans enjoy taking our Vera bag to resorts, as it is the perfect size to hold a beach towel, sun hat, sunscreen and many beach and pool essentials," says Melissa Schenkel, public relations manager for Vera Bradley. "Colorful Vera Bradley bags are like a little piece of sunshine in the harsh winter months."

Tangerine will be a popular shade this year, along with orange and shocking pinks, Jeanbart-Lorenzotti says.

"I always think a Bohemian look is fun for resort, since it exudes a more casual and playful feel, and I like to incorporate interesting and ethnic-inspired accessories," Jeanbart-Lorenzotti says. "There are two different handbags that work well for resort. The first is a raffia clutch, which is great, since it will work for day or night and is very versatile. The other is a fantastic tote bag."

Resort season offers a different perspective from spring-summer, fall-winter collections. It offers that first "spark of escape."

"What is exciting for our brand is longevity and continued freshness of a nautical look that's strength through this resort season is still very prevalent," says Sarah Hand, Nautica women's designer.

Hand has found that customers are looking for lighter weights, spring colors and even shorts. "Brighter colors and fun resort product adds a levity to one's travel wardrobe," Hand says. "There is an element of refreshment after wearing darks all winter."

The Tommy Bahama collection mixes bright colors, lightweight fabrics and a play of patterns in a carefree style. Its sportswear comes in a warm palette of magenta, purple, aqua and orange, evoking a Moroccan market -- rich in color and texture. A washed, striated sweater in sun-drenched brights is the season's go-to look; wear it with a skirt, capris or shorts. From day to evening, an ankle-length tank dress in taupe needs nothing more than a quick change of accessories.

"I believe that resort wear inspires the idea of vacation and, after the cold winter months being bundled up, the idea of a warm climate and a vacation is inspiring," says Red Carter, designer of Red Carter swimwear. "After months of wearing black, gray and burgundy, we are finally given the opportunity to feel bright and fresh even if it means we have to show off some skin. New Year's resolution: Prepare to show skin."

This season's resort swimwear will be full of bright colors and photographic prints, Carter says. Ruffles are flirty and hot. Black-and-white graphic prints are a good way to start off spring, especially if mixed with neon accents like yellow citrine.

Cover-ups are a great way to maximize your wardrobe.

"A good cover-up can take you from spring to summer and be versatile enough to take you from the pool to the lounge. Don't be afraid to make a statement with a bright color, bold shape or amazing trim detail. I love anything nautical-inspired; this trend is perennial and never goes out of style, whether it be a bold navy and white stripe or a navy caftan with some amazing gold hardware," Carter says.

Resort wear makes a woman happy because it creates the image of or idea of warm weather, vacation and relaxation, says Stacy Josloff, designer of Inca.

She says chiffon leopard prints for this season are the perfect bathing suit cover-up but can function as a great tunic or little dress for any occasion. Because resort season is such a short window of time, she says designers try to offer items that can fit into your regular wardrobe.

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