Flirty '50s Style Defines Summer Fashion

If you want to be en vogue this summer, take a cue from 1950s TV moms June Cleaver and Lucy Ricardo.

The '50s housewife look is back this season — dresses with full skirts that fall below the knee, form-fitting jackets and dainty, feminine high heels. Marc Jacobs' (search ) spring line embraced the trend.

"It was all a celebration of the '50s housewife," said Dannielle Romano, a style expert at the trend-spotting Web site "It's very prim and coquettish. There's something a little naughty about it."

The look is feminine and flirty, with details like powdery or bright colors, flowing skirts, ribbon trim and polka dots.

"The '50s dresses go into this kind of 'pretty woman' category," said Sasha Charnin Morrison, Allure magazine's fashion market director. "It's a softer shape in pastel; sugary, lemon yellow; printed satin; delicate florals. It's almost like a grown-up prom dress."

Also in for the hot summer months are 1960s-inspired dresses, which designers like Paco Rabanne featured in recent lines.

"The '60s trend is huge — that short, boxy, A-line dress that basically fits every body type," said Charnin Morrison. "It's a very free, linear, stream-lined look."

And also straight out of the swinging '60s: super-short skirts, which are back in full-force.

"The hemline that's making the most news for spring and summer is the mini," Charnin Morrison said. "The shorter, the better."

Bright, rainbow colors — orange, red, yellow, pink and green — are bursting on the scene. In fact color, rather than cut or fabric, is the focal point of many of this summer's styles.

"Color is being used as the main theme of a piece,” Romano said. "It's being used so much and so boldly. People are falling in love with colors."

Also very chic this season are metallic accents on clothing and accessories such as Louis Vuitton's (search ) metallic-trim bags.

To go along with accented accessories, shimmery satin is hip. The usually dressy fabric isn't just for lighting up the night — in the right colors, satin will spice up summer days, too.

"Satin is huge — that's the fabric of the season," Charnin Morrison said. "You're getting it in oyster, pink and dove gray, all these pretty colors in a fabric usually thought of as an evening fabric."

In another fashion flip-flop, normally casual cargo pants are crossing the line into dress wear. Romano suggests donning high heels and slinky tops with the cropped pants, which come in multiple colors and fabrics.

"Strappy sandals with cargo pants — that's the look," she said.

In fact, according to Charnin Morrison, there's a "luxurious sportswear" phenomenon that seems to have caught on this season.

"[The style is] a tank top that's completely beaded, a warm-up jacket in satin or perforated leather or a sleek dress that fits the body but has racing stripes on it," she said.

One of the more unusual fashion fads this summer is the use of the wetsuit fabric neoprene. Prada (search ) and Marc Jacobs have both experimented with it, creating Bond girl-style skirts, dresses, tops and jackets.

"There's this whole surfing trend," said Charnin Morrison. "Most of the colors are bright just like surfing clothing. It's very revealing on the skin."

In general, this season's fashion promises an influx of fun and vibrancy after the long, bitterly cold winter that engulfed much of the country.

"It's going to be a nice, refreshing spring and summer," Charnin Morrison said. "Everything is going to be bright and cheerful. It feels optimistic after such a dreary winter."