This is the time of year when your wardrobe -- like everything else -- could use a refresher: the addition of one special item to give some starch to want already hangs (limply) in your closet.
So we have scouted -- as we have done years before -- the last buys of summer. The items to perk up the way you feel about your clothes, as well as the way you look, are off the regular-price racks to make sure they will be in stock for awhile. The same kind of looks, of course, can be sought out on the now-proliferating sale racks.
Most of the choices can go into fall and others, like the jackets, are winners year-round.
And don't forget, taking away from what is in your closet may provide as big a boost as adding something. Check the racks and shelves to see what you haven't worn yet this summer. Give those items one more chance, paired with things you might never have thought of before. Give the dress you think is too short, for example, one more try as a tunic over pants. Or a shirt a new twist worn over pants and belted. Those things with no future can be recycled to a friend, or boxed for a child to grow into. Just less confusion in your closet is going to give a better start to your day.
Some other ideas for freshening up summer:
Chop off a pair of pants you have pushed to the back of the closet. Start with mimimal cuts. (Remember, once you've started, there's no turning back.) Begin with ankle length: just above the ankle. That isn't becoming? Try below the calf, mid-calf, just-above-the-knee, two inches above the knee. There aren't many choices after that.
Talk to your hairdresser about a new short haircut (possibly the First Lady cut?). If you don't have a hairdresser, stop someone on the street who has a great haircut and ask them to share their beautician's name. Most people are flattered by such a request. If you have never worn your hair truly short, you have no idea how much lighter it makes you feel, or how pleasant it is to step from a shower and have only to towel-dry your hair.
Find different ways to braid or bunch your hair. A new hair style should provide as much of a lift as the much-talked-about new hat. (A new straw hat worn for the fun of it isn't a bad idea, either.)
Put some of the things you plan to wear the next day in the refrigerator: lingerie, jewelry, cologne, body cream. The chill might not last long but it will give a fresh start.
Dust the insides of your shoes with baby powder before you start the day. Dusting them at the end of the day before you head for the bus or Metro is also pleasant.
Check your weekend suitcase for things you have been lugging around all summer that you don't need. Even extra keys, a lipstick that isn't quite the right color for the moment, a mirror you never use, make a bag feel heavy, and somehow hotter in warm weather. CAPTION: Illustrations 1 through 6, White-trimmed blue crepe dress to go from office to theater, Nikki Young, $120; copper-toned, open-knit rayon sweater, Harriet Kassman, $190; white slub silk pants, Cachet, $185; pink silk tunic/jacket/blouse, Marie Claire, $49; copper-toned rayon ottoman go-over-everything jacket, $88, printed camisole, $44, matching skirt, $68, all from Claire Dratch; Kenzo's much-copied cotten eyelet blouse, Cachet $155. Illustrations by Martha Vaughan for The Washington Post