During the season of sand and surf, it can be difficult to assemble a tailored look breezy enough to face the sweltering temperatures between June and August. This year, don’t invest in yet another floral sundress, opt instead to stock up on a different genre of staple for your summer wardrobe — something we like to label under: summer sophistication.

And what brand better than MaxMara — a fashion house renowned for creating classic contemporary looks — to turn to when in want of clothing and accessories that have elegance enough to infuse one’s look with a touch of Hepburn, while retaining a trendy and youthful element of cool.

To aid us in our effort to mature your seasonal closet, we called upon Avril Graham, the Executive Fashion & Beauty Editor of Harper’s BAZAAR, to share her expertise and guide us through the season’s hottest trends, and the corresponding must-haves from MaxMara this spring/summer.

Below, Graham divulges expert tips to help secure longterm wardrobe investments, rather than bids on passing fashions, plus the scoop on the clothing to help you do it.

Rule I: Colour — “It makes the whole outfit pop if you add that spot of colour.”

A fan of MaxMara’s revival of their colonial safari looks, Graham recommends perking up the muted tobacco tones of this trend with pops of “sunshine colours, almost like an African sun,” including coral and orange. Another go-to colour to contrast against neural palettes like black and white this season is azure blue, a “key colour” this spring/summer, picking up the perfect accessory in this shade (check out the bag below), makes for a versatile way to stay on trend.

Rule II: Graphic Patterns — “You don’t have to have just the one pattern; it’s all about interpreting them in a much more artful way, and putting them together as one look.”

Graphic patterns are a wide spread SS13 favourite, while the trend of mixing patterns, too, has tickled down from the international runways on to high street fashion. As Graham suggests, try a more artful approach to patterns and give mix-matching a try. Or, go for a graphic black and white pattern, like the pant suit below, to channel the season’s in-demand ’60s vibe.

Rule III: Less is More — “Have a more elegant demeanour and err on the side of caution.”

Summer is the season of evening soirées, but, due to the diversity of cocktail parties — ranging from old school formal to new school smart casual — this can often present a tricky dilemma, namely: what is considered overdressed and what is deemed underdressed when speaking of official cocktail attire. Should our lady readers find themselves stuck on the matter of what qualifies as proper dress, do like Graham and just remember “not to show too much skin.” In other words, design your outfit around muted glamour, and go for a simple dress that relies on accessories to take it from smart casual to formal. We fell in love with Graham’s black and white silk pick above. Architectural in silhouette and classic in mood, this is a dress we are confident will do well at standing up against passing trends.

Published June 10, 2013