sum*mer*ize: (verb) -rized, -rizing. To pare down to warm weather essentials <summerize your wardrobe> –sum’me*ri*za’tion (noun)

“This gold looks fake, you know?” the Japanese-American woman in front of me, in line for the H&M dressing rooms, tells her friend. She’s referring to a set of gold bangles, meant to be worn together, stacked and shiny. “Like, it’s too gold.”

This is coming from a woman wearing orange and gold wedge espadrilles. For the next 45 minutes, I listen to the woman and her friend gossip about skanky co-workers — their words, not mine; I’m sure their co-workers are just lovely — and postulate which of their friends woke up this morning with hangovers.

I am here in an effort to summerize. Since September, I’ve been in slacks, and my legs are in need of a slathering of self-tanner. I want R&R, and a flirty dress.

I need the dress for this weekend — my cousin’s wedding. I want something summer-y, something suitable for a San Antonio outdoor ceremony, but versatile enough to be dressed down to wear the rest of the season. Because I am going to be around family, I don’t want anything too revealing, and I want the dress in floral, but not a pretty floral. Pretty florals belong on the walls of English tearooms.

A man comes up to the woman behind me. He sighs. He doesn’t understand how women derive pleasure from clothes shopping, how some women see it as a sport. “Has this line moved at all since you’ve been in it?” he asks. “Are you really going to stand in line for 45 minutes for $17 clothes?”

“You’re right,” his girlfriend says, ditching the clothes she was going to try on. “I’d rather go to Banana.”

Banana Republic does not have $17 anything, not even on the sales racks downstairs, but Banana has dressing rooms to spare. Come to think of it, I’d rather go to Banana, too. But I can’t. I’m here, and determined not to leave this store without something to show for my efforts. My efforts, and $39.99.

The line for the dressing room is as long as the line for a Disneyland ride, in part because one blonde has holed herself up in a dressing room with seven garments — the maximum allowance — and keeps sending her whipped boyfriend to fetch items in different sizes and colors.

“She doesn’t want these,” Whipped says, handing a pair of pants to the dressing room attendant. “She’s gonna’ try this,” (a flowy blouse) “instead.”

The woman behind me complains. “Did you see that? Did you see what he just did? They shouldn’t let him do that.”

I shrug and smile. I feel sorry for Whipped. Poor guy probably gets sent to the drugstore for tampons. Really, there are lots of things that could make this experience worse than having to wait for a dressing room: I could be here to buy a swimsuit.

The only must-have this season is a flirty dress. Last year’s bikini will do just fine, but flirty dresses change from summer to summer. In 2008, black and white graphics were ultra-popular, but in 2009, the “It” print is floral. The cuts change too. Last year, we saw fuller skirts, but this year is all about the hour-glass.

Of course, if you give a girl a flirty dress, she’s going to want a new pair of sandals. And an envelope clutch. And maybe some bangles …

Mariel Howsepian digs black coffee, fairy tales and a man in coveralls. She lives in Santa Monica and can be reached at

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