07/09/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Makeover For Summer...Affectations!

The kids are out of school, you've finished your multiple rounds of graduation parties, and women who don't work in cabarets or on certain territorially guarded corners of your city's streets are wearing white pants again, with various levels of underwear show-through. It's official: summer is here.

But just like the clothes in your closet, your special turns of phrase, individual "quirks" of dress, and opinions need a makeover. After all, how will anyone think you're worth looking at or talking to if you don't find the right set of just-uncommon-enough trends to act as the clapboard siding of a personality that they'll immediately recognize as a mirror image of their own? So toss out last season's too-warm obscure viral video quotes, clear away that somber, wintry pant-tightness, trade in your most recent "totally ironic" cheap beer choice...and try on a brand new set of made-for-summer affectations!

Parasols - there's nothing that can replace content of character like a superficial fashion choice, and what choice screams "I'm a totally interesting and unique individual, I promise!" more loudly than the agonizingly anachronistic, cumbersome, and generally unnecessary parasol? Though it's possible to gain some of the benefits of bizarrerie with an umbrella, the true aspirant to affectation's highest lists will employ a device that is unserviceable, in fact ruined, in actual weather conditions. Other options in the "useless and deliberately 'eccentric' accessories" realm include monocles, canes-without-injuries-which-necessitate-them, and those little hats bike messengers wear.

Really ugly and/or cheap sunglasses - This particular affectation has been in full swing for some time now, but it shows no signs of stopping, especially with the under 21 crowd. Avoid looking like you only jumped on board when you saw everyone else was doing it, you lame-ass, by pronouncing loudly, whenever you're wearing your sweet window-blind-slatted-neon-plastic monstrosities or your buddy-holly-but-with-UV protection eye-flaps, how you've "had them since your were, like, literally, 5 years old." Throw in the fact that you "mailed in cereal tops to get them " for good measure. If you're feeling like really pushing your point, print up a few Rice Krispies decals and slap them on the awkwardly formed, uncomfortably large plastic side-bars for plausibility. Proceed to wear at all hours of every day, regardless of sun, or actual daylight, levels.

Noun-verb switch-ups/double-duty:
Affectation isn't just for the painfully hip! A classic with the moneyed set, letting friends know you're "summering" in the Hamptons instead of simply renting a house for a week, that you plan on "overnighting" with the yacht (or that you're going yachting to an overnight...), or that "the club" you're referring to need never be named, as it could only refer to whichever one nearby precludes entry to certain ethnicities and forbids denim, means that your linguistic output will be cut in half while your smarm is doubled! Note: true to its dual nature, this affectation can work equally well within the gilded confines of old-money circles, or as a crown atop the deliberately-unwashed hair-los of Williamsburg; dependent on the crowd into which you're seeking entry, play your use of pretentious noun-verbs "straight," or attribute it to your strong sense of "irony." For true artistes of disaffectedness, this particular affectation can be played so straight that everyone else finds you "totally ironic," but proceed down this path with caution. Clothing options which serve the double-duty of covering you while proclaiming your "summering" nature include: ascots, nautical/whale-themed styling on pants, ties, or hats, salmon-colored anything (please, "Nantucket red") and topsiders and/or really worn out leather flip-flops protecting you from that totally not top-drawer dirt.

Knit gloves - if there's anything that can be taken as an ironclad law of affectation, it's that totally-seasonally-inappropriate clothing is ALWAYS in. Think micro-minis with ballet flats in January, windbreakers with a wool scarf as "outerwear" for your trip to Maine, and canvas shoes during monsoon season. Get ahead of the curve by ditching your huge, neck-swaddling race-car checkered scarf over an inexplicable no-bra-beater combo (so utterly last year!) for wool knit gloves...worn with a beater, and no bra. Fingerless works fine - after all, you can't adjust the seat height on your fixed gear bike with stupid finger-tips getting in the way - but physical discomfort which rises in direct proportion to the temperature is a must. If you're not itching, uncomfortable, sweaty, and unhappy, you're not fashionable enough yet. Best worn with anything American Apparel.

Dan Brown/Stephenie Meyer - Every good dealer in deliberately-chosen "differences" knows that occasional well-placed "conformity" will in fact prove how truly "uncultivated" your highly-polished sheen "is." In music, this shows up as an abiding love for all things Britney and/or Hilary Duff-related alongside a library of Pitchfork-approved unknowns (for instruction in this art, read up on the critical works of Sasha Frere-Jones). But being a music snob is last year's way of proving how great you are - for you, there's literary snobbery, with the concession that in the summer "you just can't help yourself, you love reading absolute trash." Make sure that you're caught at least once reading something unrealistically weighty, like Walter Benjamin, Gogol (in the original Russian), or a history of Asian genocides, which book you refer to as "your comfort food - you just love rereading it whenever you get a chance!" so that observers realize how truly charming your lighter choices are. Once you've "just totally devoured the new Dan Brown/Twilight book - gawd, I get dumber while I read this schlock, but I can't seem to help myself!," start up a steady stream of Danielle Steele novels, from which you occasionally read aloud, beneath the umbrella, large hat, and parasol you brought with you to the beach, so that your fellow-travelers can truly appreciate how "brilliant" it is when things are "just so bad! Ohmygod, I love that!"