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Solar Flairs : Forget the Tan; Brighten Up With Splashy Colors, Baseball Caps--And Even Red Flannel


Every summer brings a wave of hot accessories for beach-goers--from sunscreen for the top of your nose to cool sandals for the bottoms of your feet.

What's the hottest beach gear for the summer of '93?

The No. 1 summer accessory used to be a tan. No longer. With worries about skin cancer and a shrinking ozone layer, people have become protective of their skin. Cocoa butters and tanning oils that enhanced the sun's burning capabilities have been eclipsed by products with a double-digit sun protection factor.

No matter their age, beach-goers are slathering on powerful sun blocks with such amphibious names as Alligator and Bull Frog. Surfers are carrying around small tubes of Moon Tan, a waterproof sun block with a high SPF rating of 30 (available for $4.95 at Huntington Surf & Sport).

Beach-goers are also shading themselves with all kinds of hats.

This year, baseball caps may be more plentiful at the beach than they are at the ball field. The coolest ones come brandished with the logo of a favorite beach/surf/skate wear manufacturer. Orange County can be proud of its contribution in this department; many of the best-known brands are from local companies such as Stussy, Mossimo and Quiksilver.

At Newport Surf & Sport in Newport Beach, the best-selling caps come in black or earth tones with the Stussy logo ($21).

For younger kids, there are baseball caps festooned with dinosaurs, fish and other colorful characters. Cow, polka dot and star motifs are among the hundreds of cap styles for $11 to $16 at the Balboa Island Kids Clothing Co.

Parents especially like infants' hats with flaps that look like something worn by a baby contingent of the French Foreign Legion. They protect babies' delicate necks and faces, says Susan Hoffman, owner of Balboa Island Kids.

Beach togs are another way to cover up.

From the shores of Seal Beach to San Clemente, the colors of beach apparel are heating up. Last summer, dull black and gray tones were all the rage. That stark rebellion against neon is over, and earth tones and toned-down brights such as magenta and forest green are brightening up everything from cover-ups to swim trunks.

The girls of summer are throwing on floral print sun dresses in comfortable cotton knits or rayons. Most of these '60s-inspired dresses are thigh-high, such as the peasant-style dress in a purple and white floral knit ($29) at Good Times Surf & Sports in Dana Point.

Flannel, once the fabric of granny nightgowns, has become the stuff that beach apparel is made of. Good Times has Hana's red plaid flannel shorts for young women with a matching zipper-front jacket ($37).

Proving that flannel can be sexy, Mossimo has used the fabric for skimpy little sun dresses and rompers. One tank-style Mossimo romper comes in the kind of red and black plaid flannel usually seen on lumberjack shirts, available at the Corona del Mar Beach Club ($39).

Guys favor oversize T-shirts and huge shorts. The shirts hang practically to their knees, which is OK because some of the shorts go to their ankles.

Good Times has a mustard-colored striped knit shirt by World Industries that's long and loose ($34), as well as big long-sleeved T-shirts with surf manufacturer logos in faded earth tones ($20).

"It's a fashion trend--kids want things as big as they can get. They want to be different, just like every generation of kids," says Nancy McAtee, Good Times owner.

Call them flip-flops, zoris or Flojos, beach sandals are a must for stomping around in the sand. There have been major improvements in the flip-flop genre since the classic all-rubber model with the V-shaped straps first came on the market.

Newport Surf & Sport has a more advanced rubber-soled sandal by Teva with heavy duty nylon straps ($65) that president Tom Noble mischievously calls "a version of the old Jesus sandals."

Reef sandals are another upgrade of the old flip-flops, with non-skid rubber bottoms and serious double Velcro straps in vivid color combinations of lime and royal blue, hot pink and black or solid black ($17 at Balboa Island Kids Clothing Co.).

Flojos also makes a line of durable sun sandals, some that crisscross over the foot, some with a single strap over the toe and around the ankle, and the basic upside-down V model. Most have black rubber soles and rubber or colorful canvas straps. One style at Good Times features black canvas straps with blue ethnic trim ($33).

To further adorn the feet, many women are sporting anklets--bracelets for the legs. Newport Surf & Sport carries both plain silver chains and ones adorned with beads and charms ($16 to $24).

"They're really selling," Noble says. "If I knew why I'd be in Vegas right now."

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