When does a plain white T cross the border into exotic territory? When paired with one of this summer's multicultural prints.
The simplest shorts, pants and skirts become international symbols of jet-set style when rendered in an African wax print from Royal Native or a Peruvian motif from Anthropologie. Just add sun and sandals, and you'll shine straight through to September.
Tribal prints are a summer staple for those with bohemian sensibilities, but this spring they took a more serious turn on the runways. So if your lifestyle skews more complicated than a day at the beach, designers deliver a sophisticated interpretation of the trend too.
Sarah Burton combined intricate black and red beading with horsehair, ostrich feathers and black crocodile for the effect of a transcontinental warrior princess at Alexander McQueen. Colorful embroidery of indeterminate ethnicity adorned maxis and minis at Valentino. Edun and Zero + Maria Cornejo worked multicultural motifs in graphic black and white. At Givenchy, designer Riccardo Tisci cross-cultivated Japan and Africa for draped jersey dresses.
Kate Moss' latest Topshop collaboration includes a smock dress with Aztec-inspired embroidery. At H&M, Gisele Bundchen's capsule includes ethnic-print pajama-inspired pants and tops.
Whatever the age or budget or sensibility, there's a globe-trotting summer signature waiting for you, as surely as balmy breezes are (finally) blowing across the Northern Hemisphere.
"When you wear a tribal print you have the rich color and the bold patterns mixed together to create something so eye-catching you can't help but be drawn in," said Hilary Star de Roy, founder of The Royal Native and a veteran of Diane von Furstenberg. ''There are so many ways to rock them. But my favorite is to keep everything else simple and let the print stand out." TRIBUNE