Firstview.com / Malia Mills
High-waisted bikini bottoms, a la Jayne Mansfield, are back. If you feel the need to match your two-piece with your beloved Chanel tweed, the designer's Ecru tweed jersey bikini top and shorts, far left, is your only choice. Love the pin-up girl look but don't want to spend a car payment to achieve it? Pick the Malia Mills pucker showgirl bottoms with raquel top, left.
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updated 2/7/2007 5:20:27 PM ET 2007-02-07T22:20:27

The fashion forward may be eyeing the runways hosting New York Fashion Week's fall collections, but many have spring and summer on their minds.

That's because when the temperature drops, the stylish flock to such hotspots as St. Barth's, Fiji or Anguilla. But just because the weather's warm doesn't mean the looks are hot.

“I just got back from a trip to a resort at the Dominican Republic where a lot of fashion industry people were congregating for the weekend, and let me tell you--people did not look at the top of their style game,” sniffs Joe Lupo, co-founder of image consulting company Visual Therapy and co-author of Nothing to Wear?: A Five-Step Cure for the Common Closet. “I was surprised. It seemed even people well known for their style were caught off guard by this mid-winter trip.”

Don't you be. Whether you are heading off to St. Martin or San Juan, Tortolla or Tahiti, make sure you are prepared. Depending on who you are with, or where you are, wearing a pair of passe sandals can be as fatal as forgetting sunscreen.

But looking your best doesn't have to mean breaking the bank. In addition to compiling the season's key trends, we've also found ways to look just as lovely for less.

Back To The Future
The 1940s are a major theme this spring, and retailers such as the Elizabeth Charles boutique in New York City have taken notice.

“Our most popular pieces are very ‘pin-up-girl-esque,'” says Charles. “For spring you are going to see pieces with more coverage, especially in beachwear.”

Oversized sunglasses with tortoise shell or dark frames--reminiscent of Jayne Mansfield--such as these by Beryll--will provide shade both on and off a sweltering beach. For an affordable alternative, head to H&M; the Swedish retailer with locations across the country has similar glasses at a fraction of the price.

Bathing suits--both one-piece and bikini--also show a 1940s influence. Hermes' backless bathing suit in matte jersey provides maximum coverage, with maximum style, as does J Crew's one-piece in navy. If bikinis are more your style, look for Chanel's two-piece in white. It, too, provides generous ‘40s-era coverage while being very fashion forward.

Rather spend the same money on a Chanel handbag than a bathing suit? As an alternative, pick the Malia Mills pucker bottom bikini, which comes in eight different sizes (2-16) so you can always have a perfect fit.

Loosen Up
A casual appearance may be de rigueur, but don't achieve it with tank tops and cut-off shorts. Instead, kick things up a notch with sporty pieces such as a tailored hoodie. They're fashionable, without sacrificing comfort.

Slideshow: Stars with style “For spring, you will see that [hoodies] are perfect for layering over a sundress or even over your swimwear,” says Sabrina Yeung, an editor of fashion blog stylehive.com. “Hoodies are definitely no longer relegated to just the sporting crowd. They're a great way to have a trend-driven piece that is practical and keeps you warm, but at the same time makes you look stylish and chic. It's a style that anyone can pull off.”

Brightly colored pullovers such as the long tunic hoodie by Jean Paul Gaultier can be worn on their own over a bathing suit or with a pair of leggings and flats. The Mike & Chris logan hoodie is an equally bright and functional--but less expensive--choice.

Frock Around The Clock
Dresses are a vacation necessity. For daytime, choose a loose-fitting, ultra-feminine frocks, such as a seafoam green Chloe number. A just-as-seductive alternative? A Karanina halter dress also allows you to show off that tan.

Getty
You'll be seeing pretty dresses everywhere this spring. And you can't get more feminine than this seafoam dress from Chloe, far left. A cheaper, though equally cute alternative: the halter dress by Karanina, left.
For night, why not channel your inner Sienna Miller and wear a Factory Girl-inspired Gucci minidress that hits three inches above the knee? The less expensive Alice & Olivia version in chocolate and taupe can be worn on its own or combined with a pair of jeans on chilly nights.

It's All In The Details
No vacation can be complete without accessories, and this season's essentials include sexy shoes and a large bag.

For a casual daytime look, choose patent leather wedges such as those made by Goldenbleu; you can justify the $420 price tag by wearing them at night with a shift dress. Nine West also offers a patent wedge, in both black and bright candy-colors.

Slideshow: What to wear this fall If you shy away from heels, bring a pair of metallic flats, such as Christian Louboutin's Maigrissima flat sandals; they'll easily get you from bungalow to beach. Too pricey? Pick up a pair of Deer Stags women's goddess flat thong sandals instead.

If it's a handbag you're after, look no further than the Prada lock hobo bag. Alternatively, the Bulga crescent tote is less costly but just as cute.

No matter where you go this season, the most important thing you can do is not get caught by surprise by the warm weather right around the corner.

“Prepare yourself by adding a couple key spring pieces every month,” says Lupo. “By the time you go on your vacation or the first warm day rolls around, you won't be caught off guard.”

© 2012 Forbes.com

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