Summer Dos & Don’ts From A Fashion Insider
Summer Dos & Don’ts From A Fashion Insider

Summer Dos & Don’ts From A Fashion Insider

Carmel Harrison is creative director of Second Summer – a label we love for its swimwear and linen resortwear. She’s also one of the most stylish women on Instagram. From dressing for the heat to breaking out of a rut, these are her rules for the season ahead…
By Elaine Lloyd-Jones

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DON’T be afraid to have fun. Summer calls for accessories and colour. Stack bangles with long flowing maxi dresses, add boho-style belts to shorts, and venture into more feminine fabrics such as crochet and lace. 

DO create a few failsafe outfit formulas. Mine include loose-fitting maxi dresses, maxi skirts paired with crop tops, and a good shirt-and-sarong combo. Maxi dresses are great because you can wear them with flats in the daytime, then dress them up easily for the evening with heels and bold jewels. I recently purchased an amazing strapless one from Massimo Dutti. I'll be styling this for the day with a Marni beach bag and a pair of flats from a brand I recently discovered called Amanu. I also love Martha Kalvo and Ben Amun for incredible beach jewellery. Another great summer outfit combo is a cami top and maxi skirt. Jacquemus, Christopher Esber and Dion Lee are examples of really great brands that offer this. 

DO have an at-home styling session. Pull everything out of your wardrobe, and play around with putting new outfits together. You’ll be surprised at the pieces you forgot about, and how you can rework them for the new season. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to see which new pieces you might need to invest in for the new season to bring your style back to life again – without going off course, thinking you need to completely change your style, then buying a whole new wardrobe that seems on trend for the time, but isn’t really you. It may be as simple as investing in some good jewellery pieces to elevate your core dresses, or maybe you’re missing a few summer tops to go with pants and skirts you already have. 

DO play around with textures and silhouettes. When it comes to shopping basics, I always look for unexpected materials and unusual cuts to bring a cooler edge to simple outfit combinations. 


DO invest in a good linen shirt. It is an absolute must for summer because it’s such a versatile piece that can be worn with almost everything. Tie it up over a maxi dress, pair with sarongs, shorts, trousers and skirts, or simply throw over a bikini for the beach. Every summer I check Massimo Dutti’s men's section for linen shirts and invest in one or two – the cuts give that great ‘borrowed from the boyfriend’ look and the brand has such fab colours. I’ve had some of my Massimo men’s ones for years now, and I always pack them with me for vacations. For more elevated linen, I wear my Second Summer ones – the embroidered logo feature, grandad collar and more structured silhouette give a chicer take. 

DO try dresses. Over the years I’ve picked up some great timeless maxi dresses and summer tops, including a gorgeous white silk Asceno maxi dress and a beautiful, backless, silk ruched top from a cool NYC brand called Tae Park. Since boho (my favourite trend) is back in full swing this year, I’m raiding my belt drawer to restyle all of these pieces. I’ll be styling the Asceno dress with a low-slung Isabel Marant statement belt I invested in a few years ago, and I plan to wear the Tae Park top over a bikini for a boat party I have coming up in Ibiza. I’ve also found a Zara shell cord belt (which can be worn as a necklace too) to wrap around it. Accessories can change up any look, and this season my tip would be to invest in bohemian belts and statement shell necklaces. 

DON’T be afraid to try different brands each season. I love Alix of Bohemia’s amazing colourful crochet dresses, Cala De La Cruz for its bold Mediterranean-inspired prints, Sara Cristina for swimwear in gorgeous cuts and shapes that’s great for tanning in, and New York’s Julietta for incredible statement shell jewellery. 

DO embrace femininity. When it comes to summer layering, opt for more sheer fabrics. Summer to me is about softness, and embracing your femininity. Sheer tops thrown over lace bras or swimwear offer a beautiful, ethereal feel to a look, making you feel naturally beautiful. 

DO pull out your hero pieces at the start of each season. I live in Dubai so I wear my Hermès Chypre and Extra sandals most days. They are so comfortable and worth every penny. A great sarong is also essential. And there’s a million and one ways to wear it: for the beach I’ll pair with a linen shirt and bikini; for an evening look, I’ll wear it with a strappy top and statement necklace, and wrap it into a long maxi; I even wrap mine into a short mini skirt and pair with a jewelled crop top and heels for the club. 


DO pay attention to details and shapes. Whether it’s a white shirt, denim jeans or a tank/cami top, always look for a detail or a slightly cooler shape with your wardrobe staples. I love tank tops that have super-square 90s necklines; they feel chicer and more elegant than the usual basic styles. Stylist Hannah Lewis has just collaborated with Klayd on a collection of basics and the cami tops are stunning – I ordered one in every colour. Opt for white shirts with embroidery or a detail that sets them apart. Yaitte’s classic Puglia shirt is the most incredible. For denim, look to Toteme because its staple straight-leg jeans have a cool, unexpected twist detail in them. 

DO invest in pieces that elevate your wardrobe. Look at your current favourite pieces and see how you can incorporate the trend with them. I’m a boho girl at heart and Sienna Miller has always been my style inspiration, so I am very happy to see that trend back for this season. 

DON’T discount the high street. My secret go-to is Zara Home clothing and Zara lingerie – both have pieces that feel slightly more elevated in their fabrics and materials. Zara’s lingerie range includes some amazing soft cotton shirts and trousers with gorgeous detailing, while Zara Home has the best silk/satin shorts and trousers as with lace trims. I’m also always searching Etsy for unique jewellery pieces. You can find 18kt gold, handmade statement jewellery pieces of the same quality but for a fraction of the price of bigger brands. Pieces like this instantly elevate any look. 

DON’T overpack for holiday. I always have an itinerary, so I know exactly what I'm packing for. I build my outfits around these events, and take pictures on my phone, so I know exactly what I will wear. This also means I never over pack and always wear my entire suitcase. I section everything: beach pieces, dinner pieces, swim pieces and then a few statement pieces. I style all these out by mixing and matching everything to create more outfit combos to last me the entire trip. Shoes and bags are heavy, so I limit these and style across multiple looks to keep my luggage weight down. Taking pictures of each look is the best piece of advice I can give for holiday packing. It means you can look back at all your looks while you’re away and you’ll never feel like you are in a style rut or didn’t pack enough.

DO find brands that work for you. When I’m playing with my kids, I want a bikini or swimsuit that won’t fall down, and that I can move around in easily while still looking chic. I think our Second Summer Peggy styles are amazing for this. They give a good amount of bum coverage, and are super supportive and figure hugging. For lounging, I love Venezuelan designer Sara Cristina’s styles. Her cuts and shapes are cool, and she has gorgeous detailing thanks to baroque pearls and crochet. Eres also has great bandeau-style tops. If I’m looking for something more statement for a beach club, I love Magda Butrym’s pieces with the giant flower detail. 


DON’T wear anything too tight. I live in effortless maxi dresses, or a maxi skirt and strapless top. Nothing too skimming, essentially – I love feeling comfortable and relaxed when I'm out for the evening. These looks also work well day to night.

DON’T wear everything oversized. I prefer not to see women with curvier figures wearing boxy and baggy pieces. The key is to highlight your best curves, not hide them. It’s about playing with shapes and proportions to define your figure and make you feel the most confident. It’s not necessarily about covering up. If you have a petite frame or are shorter in height (I’m 5’4”), just keep things balanced. For example, if I wear an oversized blazer, I’ll only ever wear it with shorts or a mini skirt and heels. If I wear it with flats and jeans, the blazer will drown me and make me look even shorter. I opt for more fitting blazers when I’m wearing looser trouser and jean styles. 

DO question every purchase. When you’re buying new items, ask yourself: Can I dress it up with heels? Can I dress it down for a casual look? Can I wear it to work? Can I style it back with a number of other pieces in my wardrobe? Is it really my style? if the answers tend to be yes, make the purchase. If not, you’re probably impulse buying into a trend that you’ll wear once, not feel comfortable in, and the piece will end up just sitting in your wardrobe. 

DON’T go out feeling unconfident. You’ll regret it the moment you walk out the door, and spend the rest of the day feeling uncomfortable. Go back to your favourite classics and instead add a statement piece of jewellery, bag or shoe instead – I guarantee you will have a much better day. 

Follow @CarmelHarrison_ on Instagram



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