Summer is the perfect time to try on a new fashion persona. No soul and style-crushing puffer coats and snow boots to deal with, and we all look better thanks to that stress-melting summer sun and a faint tan (self-administered, of course).
If you feel deep down that you’re actually a super-chill surfer instead of, say, a tightly wound marketing manager, for the price of some salt spray for beachy waves and a pair of cut-offs you can be, if only for the weekend.
In my personal (and very detailed) vacation fantasy life, I own a Mediterranean villa and spend the summer dressed exclusively in linen while I welcome a steady stream of visitors. In the mornings we shop at the local marché for ripe cheeses, basil-flecked olives and patterned cotton scarves to wear as sarongs. Our afternoons are spent at the beach or by the pool. (Of course my fantasy villa has a pool. You should come visit.)
And when my guests retire to their spacious guest rooms with enough closet space and their own bathrooms to get ready for dinner, they too can dress according to their vacation style, each with a perfectly matched fragrance.
Like one of these:
armani air di gioia
This year, Armani’s classic Acqua di Gioia is joined by Air di Gioia, (50 ml eau de parfum spray, $95 CAd at sephora.ca and $70 at sephora.com) a breezy sibling with a zingy sea spray vibe that they’re calling a “salty floral.” It’s perfect for someone whose perfectly legitimate idea of dressing up for dinner is a sarong and a tank top.
The only accessories necessary are sun-lightened messy hair and bronzer. Remember: pedicure essential, shoes optional.
Sarongs at latitude.com, zappos.com and overstock.com; Physicians Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer ($19.95 CAd at drugstores and $14.99 at ulta.com); L'Oreal Paris Vernis à L'Huile in Violet Vendome ($10 CAd at drugstores)
weleda jardin de vie agrume
Tricked out with grapefruit and mandarin to evoke the citrussy scent of sea buckthorn berries, Weleda Jardin de Vie Agrume eau naturelle parfumée, (50 ml, $32 CAd at Whole Foods and $24 USd at weleda.com) is an energizing spray-into-the-air-and-walk-through-the-mist winner. (It also contains sandalwood if you have a hippie side that needs feeding.)
And because it’s so well-priced, you can scent your towels and bed linens (fancy!) or use it as a room spray without feeling like a money-mad fragrance wastrel. Best paired with a patterned caftan and no bra.
prada candy kiss
A more nuanced version of the original swoon-worthy Prada Candy, Prada Candy Kiss (50 ml eau de parfum spray, $98 CAd at thebay.com and $88 USd at sephora.com) is kicked up with addictive vanilla and orange blossom. It’s for that friend who wears her mother’s vintage 70s tunics with an armful of bracelets and a lot of liquid eyeliner.
ex nihilo fleur narcotique
Can a super-sexy floral be light enough for summer? Absolutely. Ex Nihilo Fleur Narcotique (50 ml eau de parfum, $295 CAd at Saks Fifth Avenue; 3.4 oz $325 USd at saksfifthavenue.com) is seemingly all sweetness and light with notes of lychee, peach and white flowers, but gets its come-hither charms from an overdose of peony, musk and warm woods.
The friend who wears this travels with too much luggage, changes outfits several times a day and probably uses up all the hot water. But that’s ok, because she brings truly stellar hostess gifts.
hermès eau de neroli d’oré
Hermes Eau de Néroli D’Oré (100 mL, $149 CAd at the bay.com and $129 USd at saksfifthavenue.com) takes heady orange blossom Neroli and deepens it with saffron so it smells like someone bottled a fiery Mediterranean sunset.
This is for the understated friend whose crew neck sweaters are always Prada and those pale blue shirts that she wears over tanned legs and white flipflops? Well, they’re always Celine. Pair with burnished, gleaming legs.
derek lam 10 crosby silent street
Housed in a sleek cylindrical bottle, Derek Lam’s Silent Street (50 ml eau de parfum, $120 CAd at sephora.ca and $95 USd at sephora.com) from the 10 Crosby Collection smells as though someone took the reassuring, warm scent of musk oil and put through an expensivizing machine to make it richer, plusher and the olfactory equivalent of a spotless, pure-white house maintained by a fleet of servants. Worn best with gleaming, freshly scrubbed skin and a black bikini.
The Body Shop African Ximenia Scrub ($32 CAd and $32 USd at thebodyshop.com). Image: still from the movie La Piscine; actress Romy Schneider.
summer pasta: low-effort, dead-easy dinner
You need only one more detail to complete your wonderful fantasy life: a genius, near-zero-effort dish of sun-soaked flavour. Summer pasta is for those hot days when the thought of standing at the stove seems like the worst sort of punishment.
A "raw" sauce that comes together quickly with minimal prep from you, "Summer Pasta" is an old standard from the 1980s classic Silver Palate cookbook that became so popular that it went from novelty to dinner party staple to overexposed artifact pretty quickly. Recently it found new life thanks to the internet, where it gets regularly rediscovered and enthused over.
The meal is simple: assemble the ingredients around lunchtime in a glass bowl and place it in the sun to let the garlic and basil infuse the tomatoes.
Come the dinner hour, just boil up a huge pot of pasta and mix it all together. The whole wheel of camembert you'll see in the ingredients list sounds very showy and silly, but the flavour really works.
Summer Pasta ingredients (serves four)
- 5 fist-sized tomatoes or 7 roma tomatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes
- One half-pound wheel of very ripe camembert (about 5 inches across) rind removed
- ½ cup basil leaves, torn up or chiffonaded (rolled up and cut into thin strands)
- 2 medium cloves of garlic, finely minced
- ¼ to ½ cup of olive oil (the original recipe called for 1 cup, but eww.)
- 1 500 gram box of spaghetti or small pasta shapes
- Salt and pepper to taste
Summer Pasta assembly instructions
Dice tomatoes into a bowl with torn basil leaves, finely minced garlic cloves and a longish glug of olive oil (1/4 cup? 1/2 cup?)
Carefully cut away the rind from a half pound wheel of camembert (the Le Rustique brand from your local semi-fancy cheese shop works perfectly here) and put the sticky gooey contents in the bowl along with everything else. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the sun for the flavours to meld.
When you start feeling hungry, drag your sun-stunned body to the kitchen, boil up a huge pot of pasta, drain the pasta and then add directly to the tomato, cheese, basil, oil, garlic mixture in the bowl and fold quickly with a giant spoon or wide spatula.
The camembert magically coats each piece of pasta but will look like it’s vanished. You may be tempted to grate parmesan on top, but you don’t need to. Ladle onto plates. Garnish with a couple of decorative basil leaves if you’re feeling fancy. Serve with salad if you got it together enough to make one.
Pour everyone a glass of rosé or just fizzy water with lemon if you’re already too tipsy from #daydrinking.
Have you found a summer fragrance that enriches your dream-vacation life?