No matter where you're heading this summer -- Ocean City or Cape Cod -- your packing essentials are the same:

1. Stunning bathing suit. Pick a vibrant color or pattern. And find a suit that flatters your body. "Go to a store where they have a fabulous selection of swimwear year-round and finding you a suit is their passion," says Helen Kestler, co-owner of Sylene, a lingerie, loungewear and swimwear boutique.

2. Gorgeous sunglasses. Look for sun-worshiping colors like purple, honey and pink.

3. Fun towel. Express a beachy sentiment or announce your favorite vacation destination. Plus, it'll be easier to pick yours out from all the others.

4. Smart shoes. "Comfort is essential and you want it to have a good look," says Judi Flowers, co-founder of Bonjour Fleurette. Something flashy (like gold) but manageable (one-inch heel or lower) is good. A thong flip-flop works because it complements skirts, capris, dresses -- and bathing suits.

5. Big bag. The right bag is big enough for the basics (magazine, sunblock, saltwater taffy) and has a sturdy zipper to keep everything in and the sand out.

-- Janelle Erlichman

"I Need a Vacation" terry cloth towel ($45) and monogrammed hat ($25) at preppychicks.com. Jets Maldives halter-neck floral swimsuit ($220) and wrap ($112) at Sylene, 4407 S. Park Ave., Chevy Chase. Bonjour Fleurette Just Gold kitten heels, $39 at Corby Collection, Mazza Gallerie, 5300 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase, and bonjourfleurette.com. Manuel Canovas beach bag, $215 at Hysteria, 115 S. Royal St., Alexandria. Prada metal cat-eye sunglasses, $99.95 at bluefly.com. Abroad travel organizer and journal. $17.95 at Tabletop, 1608 20th St. NW. Cocktail playing cards, $10 at Saks Fifth Avenue, 5555 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase. Vital sun protection lotion ($18.50) and spray ($17.50) at Kiehls, 3110 M St. NW. Havaianas rubber sandals, $12 at Sylene.