Now the fun kind of summer shopping begins, those exhilarating trips to your favorite haunts where you can score a swimsuit, sundress and sandals -- all on sale -- just before embarking on a week at the beach.
"It's never too late," said Anu Narayanan, vice president of women's and non-apparel at Old Navy. "You can always find, even on sale, great pieces, and it's how you mix them together that makes everything look new."
This year, many stores are recognizing that shoppers like to purchase summer clothing closer to when the weather is warm enough for them to wear it, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with The NPD Group.
That translates to a later, more gradual rollout of summer clothing as well as staggered and later-than-usual sales, he said.
The weeks ahead in mid-July and August are prime time to look for deals on basics like tank tops and trendy dresses, printed pants and colorful blouses, he said, though it may be trickier to find what you want because the sales will not be storewide.
While you're making your way through the sale racks, style experts recommend keeping an eye out for clothing that remains in the fashion forecast for fall.
"It's a great time to find things you're going to wear for the summer months and a great time to look for things that will effortlessly move into your fall wardrobe," said Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director for Neiman Marcus.
Calling leather now a "365-day-a-year proposal in fashion," his top pick is warm-weather leather, especially by way of a biker jacket. "Scoop up every biker jacket you can find on sale after July Fourth because rocker chic is the major message as we go into the fall season," he said. "That biker jacket will take you everywhere."
For color, think orange, a popular spring and summer hue that will work well in autumn with violets, reds and cranberries, Downing said. Distressed denim also makes his "buy" list, and anything that follows the black-and-white trend.
Narayanan suggests grabbing a pair of printed shorts on sale for a summer update along with a tunic or caftan to polish your poolside look. Consider maxi dresses and skirts that can move into fall with flat boots, she said, and if you're a fan of denim, look for denim tops on sale.
"Any denim jacket or vest, that's a key staple," she said. "It's become the new cardigan."
Bright, printed tops in acid yellow, coral and fuchsia are good bets to wear again in autumn.
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