In our glorious tanning months of summertime (this is still such a weird concept for me, being a California girl, where every month is a tanning month) tan lines sometimes become a part of your outfit. Even if you aren't the type to lay out and soak up the rays on the weekend, your shoulders and knees get sunkissed from lunches in the park and drinks on sunny patios.
And it's important to keep tabs on those lines. Tan lines are like visible bra straps or see-through tops -- there's a fine line between sexy and tacky.
I always stress if too much sun early in the season catches me by surprise in a short-sleeved top of some kind. Once you get that farmer's tan line across your arm, you'll be spending most of the summer trying to get rid of it. No matter how dark you get, that lower part of your arm will always be slightly ahead of the upper part. The line may eventually fade, but will almost certainly still be there.
And if you aren't committed to tanning it into submission? Well, you've pretty much screwed your whole summer of wearing sleeveless tops and sundresses. That kind of tan line is never sexy, even on a man.
I'm also very careful when I choose a swimsuit. Aside from all the obvious things we take into consideration when picking a suit, I'm very cognizant of what tan lines I'll be getting from the top. Like I said before, tan lines can be sexy ... but too much is not a good thing. I tend to think a low cut strap-free is always the best way to go.
Think of all those strapless dresses you'll be wearing to weddings this summer. Those halter top tan lines in all the pictures really only work if you're at a destination wedding.
And it wasn't until last weekend, when I jokingly teased a friend about her flip flop tan lines, that I realized how I might be a little obsessed with avoiding too many lines. I might just be lucky in that my feet tan fairly dark but I never seem to pick up a sandal line. But it might also be that I'm pretty careful to avoid them. If I'm sitting outside for long periods, I either take my shoes off and set my feet on top of my sandals or flats, or I keep my feet under my chair or in the shade somehow, when it's just inappropriate to take off my shoes.
Getting yourself a serious flip-flop tan line and then wearing a t-strap sandal? I tend to think that just looks tacky.
So while the season is still early, think about the tan lines you might pick up before you spend too much time in the sun. Once you've got 'em, they're hard to shake. I also keep a travel size tube of sunscreen in my purse, so I can easily swipe a little extra on my shoulders or the tops of my feet whenever I realize I'm going to be out in the sun longer than I expected.
And never forget your chest, especially when you're wearing a statement necklace. Saw a girl with a repeating triangle tan line on her chest the other day and felt a little sorry for her. She's stuck with that until 2013.