Assuming that you've settled on your beverage of choice and have your hors d'oeuvres sorted out, that only leaves one to-be-determined detail-your outfit, of course! Obviously this is a low-key affair, so although it's important to appear put-together, you don't want it to seem like you've put gobs of effort into your look. The secret to creating the ideal ensemble is to pick uncomplicated pieces-comfort is key!-then enliven those clean silhouettes with interesting accessories. A patterned or sweetly detailed shoe, casually cool bag, and a killer pair of sunglasses will upgrade your simple separates into a cohesive, chic look.
Of all the Spring 09 collections, Marc by Marc Jacobs' line best embodied this spirit, so we searched for items with the same sort of quirky cuteness. We also found alternatives for some of the slightly pricier pieces, in consideration of those messy eaters out there (hey, who hasn't accidentally "sauced" a top or two?) Feel free to mix, match, and make these items your own; just don't forget the sunblock-or the rosé!
Carrera Champion Aviators ($150)
Once upon a time, we received a vintage pair of Miami Vice-style Carrera aviators as a gift. They're still one of our favorite styles, so when we heard that the storied brand was relaunching a line of sunglasses, we got very excited. Happily, the new collection lives up to its historical greatness and offers excellent options like our above selection. The Champion Aviators really pop in red, but they're also available in turquoise, white, black, and tortoise if you prefer a different frame shade.
Murder She Tote Bag ($27)
A summer barbecue outfit shouldn't be super-serious, so we suggest injecting a little stylish humor into your look with this canvas shopper by Murder She Tote. We love the crazy amalgam of fonts (it's old-school horror-film, varsity cheer, and Sweethearts Conversation Hearts all at once), it's definitely not your standard issue eco-tote!
Omelle Avrey Flat Sock Sandals($575)
Though this is the first time we've featured Omelle on WhoWhatWear.com, we've been intrigued by this relative-newcomer for quite some time. Created by two young designers-Cherise Angelle and Nicole LaFave-who met as students at FIDM here in LA, the collection is distinctive and fresh, featuring styles like the grosgrain ribbon-detailed Avrey Sandal. They're functional and unfussy, yet fabulous, which makes them perfect for a festive afternoon!
Vanessa Bruno Athé Striped Cotton Blouse ($345)
There's little that's less attractive than a girl fidgeting with her clothes-especially at a relaxed event like a barbecue. As such, we implore you to pick pieces that have an easy grace, like this soft blouse by Vanessa Bruno Athé. The cap-sleeves are sweetly feminine and the generous cut manages to look neatly flowy rather than sloppily oversized. If you'd rather keep your dry-cleaning bills to a minimum, try Delia's Molly Tunic ($45); it's got a similar shape and is less of an investment.
Delia's Jamie Short ($30)
We tend to be slightly skirt-favoring in practice, but these simple stretch twill shorts might make us rethink that stance. Admittedly, the combo of pleats and cuffs sounds pretty unappealing (or flat out scary), but these shorts have a slim fit and an abbreviated hem, which keeps them looking current. If this isn't enough to entice you, just consider the fact that the price is very, very nice!
TOMS University Flats ($50)
When you're wearing basic or classic items, it never hurts to splash out on some slightly intriguing footwear. These striped canvas flats from TOMS will add a little zip to any outfit and give back to the world as well (for every pair purchased, TOMS donates a pair to a child in need). We like them in red, but the cheerful flats also come in a more sober blue striped version too.
Marc by Marc Jacobs Mixed-Stripe Jersey Dress ($250)
We couldn't reference Marc by Marc Jacobs and not include anything from the collection, now could we? Certainly not! Though we love runway pieces like the Cutout Jean Jacket ($398) and the Link Print Dress ($358), the item that won out for today's story is the Mixed-Stripe Jersey Dress. We love the jaunty nautical stripes and the way the double-layer skirt lightly references the eighties. It's smart yet effortless, which makes it a wonderful choice for this occasion.
Dannijo Dominica Necklace ($238)
We always get a bit more playful with our jewelry picks when the weather warms up, because for some reason heat equals fun. On that note, we decided to include this bold necklace by Dannijo, which is made from neon roping, brass chain, woven leather, and malleable silver-plated aluminum. The hand-made piece is strong and sure to spark conversation, making it the best choice for a summer barbecue.
Runway images, from firstVIEW.