?' la Mode: Guide to Style

Creative dressing for summer events and the importance of bloomers

The Spectrum

Other than not having class for a couple of months, the best part about summer is the events that make summer, summer. We each have our own ideas about what summer is - whether that's bonfires at night, vacations to the beach or lounging in Adirondack chairs on a wooden deck. When summer comes to a close, these are the things we long for.

Summer is also the best season for getting dressed - you don't need that many layers and you're especially free to experiment with skirts and dresses. Rather than covering up with a giant, puffy winter coat, you can use lightweight jackets and sweaters to complement, rather than compete with, your outfit. Boots move to the back of the closet as you pull out ballet flats. The colors are brighter and patterns are happier.

But it can be easy to fall into a summer rut of shorts and t-shirts.

Make this summer a fashion season to remember - explore your closet and put together fresh combinations as you embark on the wonderful long days of summer.

Here are three common summer events and creative ways to dress for them.

Outdoor wedding or graduation party

When you've got an invite to a friend's graduation party or a relative's wedding, the first thing you might reach for is an easy dress - you can dance, sit, drink and converse with ease.

That's expected.

Try something new.

Here, I'm wearing printed silk pants from Ann Taylor, a black blouse from the Up! Market in London and navy blue brogues.

Even though these pants feel like pajamas and are just as easy as wearing sweatpants, silk takes them to a new level of elegance. Silk pants are light enough to keep you cool during the hot day but you'll be thankful your legs are covered as the night gets chilly. The blouse has an open back and a Peter Pan collar overlaid with lace, making it both trendy and classic.

Trading in a dress for pants for a wedding or a graduation party can easily fall into the territory of being too casual, but expensive fabrics will instantly elevate your look.

These particular pants remind me of summer - it's like walking on the sands of a beach in the Mediterranean. They're loose, low-rise and have pockets, combining ease and comfort with fashion-forward styling.

Independence Day

This is the only day out of the year when you can combine red, white and blue and not have to worry about looking too tacky. Like red and green or orange and black, this combination should generally be reserved for the holiday it represents. Of course you can mix them in an outfit on any given day, but there's a fine line between looking tacky and mixing colors well (which is a travesty, because these colors go so well together).

The outfit I chose for the July 4th celebrations is one that can actually be translated into every day. I'm wearing a black and white polka dot blazer, high-waisted denim shorts from Garage, a black sleeveless blouse from H&M, red American Apparel socks and navy blue brogues.

The red and blue is entirely obvious, but by tossing a blazer with such a shocking pattern tones down the patriotism while keeping you warm as the celebration moves into fireworks time.

I'm a firm believer in high-waisted shorts. I'm not a believer, however, in limiting them to graphic crop tops.

Experiment with how you wear this trendy style of shorts. By mixing casual denim with business-like apparel, you'll differentiate yourself from the crop-top-wearing hipsters flocking to the keg.

This blazer is definitely not your average work wear, though. I see polka dots as being a neutral, like black, navy blue, gray, brown and metallic. Neutrals are colors and sometimes patterns (such as stripes and leopard print) that can be mixed with each other and mixed with any other color (yes, that means black and brown DO work together). Layering polka dots over any outfit adds a flare of fun, taking your normal red-white-and-blue from average to patriotic-chic.

Yeah, that's a thing.

Music Festival

Summer is filled with music festivals and outdoor concerts, especially in Buffalo. There's the Outer Harbor Concert Series, Tuesdays in the Park and Coors Light Wednesdays at Artpark and Thursday at Canalside concert series - just to name a few. For indoor music, venues like PAUSA art house, Nietzsche's, Hardware Caf?(c) and Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar in Allentown regularly host live music.

If you're traveling outside of Buffalo, there's no shortage of major music festivals like Amnesia Rockfest in the province of Quebec, Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada and Electric Forest in Rothbury, Mich. There's a ton.

The most important part of attending a concert is dancing. We can leave your friends behind because your friends don't dance, and if your friends don't dance, well, they're no friends of mine.

When getting dressed before a show, you have to consider the weather, how much you'll be dancing and even the type of music you'll be listening to. Obviously don't divert from who you are, but it can be a bit weird to see a punk in full gear and patches sitting on the lawn at a Willie Nelson concert.

In this picture, I've got on a vintage sailor-esque blouse from a friend, my go-to burgundy American Apparel tennis skirt, patterned over-the-knee navy socks from Payless and the most important part - navy blue American Apparel bloomers.

Although dressing for concerts is subjective, the one thing you cannot be without is bloomers. Never heard of them? Good thing I'm here.

American Apparel sells an awesome selection of bloomers from comfy cotton ones, to seersucker, to sexy, sheer, trimmed-with-lace ones. Bloomers are slightly poofy (adding a bit of volume to a skirt or dress) and prevent wardrobe mishaps if the wind picks up, or if your dancing is as physical and grandma-like as mine is.

I layer bloomers over every pair of tights and under every skirt or dress that I wear. If you've ever tried to wear a dress and walk down the Promenade on a windy day, then you know the struggle of holding your dress down.

Bloomers are the single most beneficial undergarment you can invest in. Believe me, once you get used to wearing them, not wearing them will feel like you're walking around naked.

And when you're dancing, you don't want to worry about flashing the people around you. Be free and wear bloomers.

Summer is a time to embrace the free time and warm weather and put together new, creative outfits. Play around with colors and patterns to develop your personal style. Going to your favorite summer events is the perfect opportunity to wear your favorite clothing, but doing so in new ways will inspire you and will help make this summer something special.

email: emma.janicki@ubspectrum.com