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Frock Options

Little nonblack dresses: Though you may wear these sunny summer slips every day, they're anything but basic. And they're the best way to show off a tan.

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Sexy, slinky sundresses may be timeless, but they're the last thing you want to spend real money on -- sweat, smoke, and spilled margaritas are likely to wreck them after a few nights out. Luckily, some of this summer's splashiest choices are almost disposable -- with prices as low as $25, they're as easy to toss as they are to love.

Strappy styles are warm-weather staples. On weekends, you'll live in H&M's classic slipdress with dainty ruffles at the neck ($25). At night, try shiny fabrics with big prints. Synthetics stand in for silk at a fraction of the price: We adore Madison's psychedelic blue one ($26 at Madison -- our favorite new source for inexpensive, trendy clothes) and a sophisticated paisley from Warehouse ($39.99). EXPRESS's silk version has a sexy asymmetrical hem and an of-the-moment abstract floral print ($58).

For retro flair -- think Catskills 1962 -- we love halter-neck dresses, even if they don't accommodate bra straps. Try a graphic-printed rayon style with a sharp, tie-side neckline from Zara for the office ($45) and pack XOXO's sexy Hawaiian-print number for the beach ($48).

H&M, 640 Fifth Ave., at 51st St. (212-489-0309); Madison, 290 Madison, near 41st St. (212-447-9740); Warehouse of London (for locations, call 212-941-0910); Express (for locations, visit www.expressfashion.com); Zara (for locations, call 212-868-6551); XOXO (for locations, call 212-334-6708).

Picks of the Week

Rubin Chapelle's sharp, architectural women's summer clothes (sold at Barneys) are 50 to 70 percent off, from $35-$150. Sizes 2-10. 133 W. 25th St., seventh floor west (212-367-8061); A.E., M.C., V.; Thurs.-Fri. 1-7:30; 7/13-7/14.

Suarez bags and shoes -- classic shapes in Italian leathers and exotic skins -- are up to 70 percent off. Bags are from $50-$1050. 450 Park Ave., near 56th St. (212-753-3758); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Fri. 10-6, Sat. till 5; 7/10-7/29.

Intermix is clearing summer stuff from designers like Catherine, Anna Sui, and Kate Spade at 50 to 70 percent off, from $30-$200. 125 Fifth Ave., near 19th St. (212-533-9720); 1003 Madison Ave., near 78th St. (212-249-7858); A.E., M.C., V.; call for hours; 7/14-8/14.

A Pea in the Pod is taking up to 75 percent off trendy designer maternity wear. Prices are $30-$200. 625 Madison Ave., near 58th St. (212-826-6468); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Fri. 10-7, Sat. till 6; 7/10-7/15.

Selima stores -- Bond 07 (clothes), Selima Optique (glasses), and Le Corset (lingerie) -- are all marking 50 to 75 percent off most stock. Call for locations and hours: Bond 07 (212-677-8487); Selima Optique (212-343-9490); Le Corset (212-334-4936); 7/14-7/31.

Les Petits Chapelais's French kids' clothes and accessories are 50 to 75 percent off ($5-$58). Sizes 0-8. 210 W. 107th St., Suite 4D (212-662-5538); cash only; Wed.-Fri. 10-6, Sat. till 4; 7/12-7/15.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store sale has seconds of objets, tableware, and jewelry -- great for gifts -- at half price. Fifth Ave. at 82nd St. (212-879-5500); A.E., M.C., V.; Tues.-Thurs., Sun. 9:30-5:15; Fri.-Sat. till 8:45; 7/11-7/23.


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