Summer Style A-Z
A is for American in Paris
Kate Moss and Eva Mendes know that one needn't be French to adopt a soupcon of Gallic style: The classic Breton striped shirt looks utterly chic and easy when paired with good old American denim—skinny or trouser-cut—and a pair of dark sunglasses.
B is for Braids
The low, loose side braid is the new ponytail; it's pretty without being too polished. From left, Rachel McAdams, Leona Lewis, and Kate Bosworth sport the look.
C is for Cutouts
Peek-a-boo cutouts are the perfect way to show a little skin. Go for solid colors and streamlined silhouettes to maximize the drama; as Malin Akerman and Halle Berry demonstrate, the greater the contrast between the dress's shade and your skin tone, the sexier the reveal.
D is for Denim Top
Denim button-downs aren't just for cowhands anymore: Paired with high-heeled sandals and a pencil skirt—as seen on Ginnifer Goodwin, far left, and Hilary Duff—a chambray shirt is well-suited to both a business meeting or a laid-back afternoon stroll.
E is for Elaborate Earrings
Swap out the statement necklace for a pair of ornate danglers—they elongate the neck, draw attention to your face, and work with both updos, as seen on Kate Beckinsale and Nelly Furtado, and loose, beachy waves a la Sienna Miller.
F is for Full Length with Flats
A flowing maxi-dress looks positively ethereal with a delicate pair of flat sandals; take a tip from Charlize Theron and add big-night jewelery to make it evening-appropriate, or dress the look down, like Jennifer Aniston, for a stroll by the beach.
G is for Gingham
The quintessential picnic pattern is surprisingly versatile: Dita Von Teese goes retro with a fifties silhouette and a headkerchief, while Katrina Bowden looks modern—even sexy—in a checkered minidress paired with platforms.
H is for Hip-Slung Belts
In winter, a cinched waist is where it's at, but the heat of summer sometimes calls for a breezier silhouette: A low-hanging belt adds definition but still looks laid back. Chanel Iman, far left, chooses an ethnic style for her basic cutoffs, while Fergie opts for a more polished effect.
I is for Isabel Marant
It's no wonder that the coolest girls in New York and L.A. will wear literally anything by this Parisian designer—Marant makes basics anything but. The must-have piece, as seen on Zoe Saldana and Natalie Portman, is a petite, ladylike jacket that works with dark jeans or a bright minidress.
J is for Jean Shorts
Abbreviated denim is a summer staple, but this season a rolled-up hemline looks best—it's easier to dress up than a messy cutoff. Rachel Bilson gives her casual pair some polish by adding a chain-strap bag and metallic sandals, while Whitney Port goes elegantly bright with a patterned blouse and flats.
K is for Khaki
These dust-colored trousers work well with dark leather and denim. Make the menswear basic more female-friendly by cuffing them—to reveal a flash of delicate ankle—and strapping on a pair of neutral-colored sandals like Heidi Klum and Jennifer Aniston.
L and M are for Lace and Military
Diane Kruger and Alexa Chung both opt for this unexpected mixture of rugged and soft: A stretch of elegant lace is a surprisingly apt complement to standard-issue military style. Add high heeled sandals or a structure bag to create a look worth saluting.
N and O are for Nude and Off-White
Peaches and cream is a classic combination. But these fair neutrals needn't look staid: Sarah Jessica Parker toughens up her taupe lace dress with a sharp white blazer and layered chains, while Megan Fox's sexy ivory sheath looks elegant when paired with a blush-colored bag.
P is for Print Over Print
Mixing prints and patterns is a very modern move, with a high degree of difficulty. But if you're careful to keep all your pieces in the same color family, like Kirsten Stewart and Whitney Port, you should be able to rise to the challenge. The results are thrillingly au courant.
Q is for Quick Hair Fixes
Summer heat and humidity have conquered many a hairstyle; better to abandon any idea of looking impossibly sleek in favor of a host of quick fixes that will leave your do impossibly chic. Sarah Jessica Parker and Jessica Alba opt for gently mussed topknots that work day and night, while Beyonce caps her beachy waves with a colorful straw hat.
R is for Rope Details
Go goddess in a Grecian-gown accented with braided details——January Jones and Eva Amurri show two different takes on the classic look. Draped, flowing fabrics belted with rope are great for accentuating curves, but keep your accessories simple to avoid looking like you're headed to a toga party.
S is for Spice Colors
Super-bright shades may be sunny-season favorites, but don't overlook the duskier side of the color palette: Cinnamon, sage, and mustard shades can add flavor to your warm-weather clothes. Paula Patton's printed dress is pretty tropical, and Miranda Kerr's seperates make her skin glow.
T is for Tie-Dye
Tie-dye has come a long way from it's hippie-dippie roots: As recent runway iterations have shown, the technique can be used to achieve very high fashion results. Kate Bosworth pairs her loose-fitting dress with a chicly earthy bag and heels, while Kristen Bell wisely lets her vibrant choice take center stage, sticking with nude, minimalist accessories.
U and V are for UV Protection
Coco Chanel may have popularized the suntan, but this century trendsetters are focused on finding stylish ways to avoid burns, skin cancer and wrinkles. Kate Hudson and Vanessa Hudgens strike the right balance, pairing wide-brimmed hats with sweet sun-dresses. Finish the look with strappy sandals and of course, a generous helping of SPF.
W is for White Dress
This summer, set aside your little black dress in favor of a bright white version: In the right silhouette, the shade can suit almost any occasion. Reese Witherspoon's streamlined sheath is perfect for the office, paired with an ivory status bag and metallic heels; Demi Moore tempers the sweetness of her strapless a-line with a black clutch and heels.
X is for Xtra Bright Lips
A smoky eye can be too tricky for the sweaty season. But a super-bright lipstick confers the same quantity of pretty polish. If you're fair-skinned, choose hot pinks and reds with blue undertones; the medium-to-dark-skinned should try orange-based reds and vibrant plums.
Y is for Yellow Bag
Sunshine-y yellow packs a punch, but it definitely doesn't suit everyone's skin tone. Instead, try pairing a bright lemon bag with tailored office-ready separates, like Taylor Swift, or a more boho-style dress, like Joy Bryant.
Z is for Zigzags
Jagged lines are a jaunty alternative to horizontal stripes, and have the added advantage of drawing the eye upwards, rather than out. Try a zigzagged handbag, like Anne Hathaway's, or a copy Milla Jovovich's cool coat.