It's mid-summertime, and the shopping is easy. Mostly because everything's on sale. So I offer these predictions on which warm-weather trends will survive.
First sale-shopping rule of thumb: Retail buyers make mistakes. Sometimes, a garment is on sale because it never should have made it to store racks in the first place. Your first clue: a wide selection of colors, sizes or both.
Second rule of thumb: Not all sales indicate a buying mistake. In fact, most of them don't. Many stores, especially boutiques (which often have limited storage space), would rather sell the clothes at a discount than bother with storing them until next spring.
Also, the retail markup (generally double the wholesale price plus 10 percent) means a store can do a lot of marking down before the sale constitutes a loss.
The high-glamour look in swim wear (molded or underwire bra cups, high-waisted bottoms, wide straps and lots of shirring) will stick around, especially now that ready-to-wear designers have turned to the glamorous '40s for inspiration.
But athletic-styled swimsuits for non-athletes (front zippers, wetsuit fabrics) have been going for several summers; they should be gone by spring '92.
If you find a well-made, great-looking jacket on sale, buy it. Jackets have emerged as the wardrobe essential of the decade, and the decade's pretty young yet. The beauty of this is that jackets of all shapes from ultra-long to bolero-cropped remain in style.
The current favorite is a long jacket shaped at the waist, a silhouette I expect to stay strong for at least another year. Your best long-term bet, though, is a slightly oversized, traditionally cut blazer.
Neon colors have stayed alive way beyond their estimated life span. True trendoids gave them up three summers ago, but many stores continue to stock them. Do not be fooled.
Aquatic shades of ocean blue, sea green, coral orange and seashell pink are better color bets. They just hit the runways, so are apt to be favored by designers for at least one more warm-weather season.
You won't go wrong with head-to-toe white, a summer perennial. You're also safe with nautical navy-and-white, but playing it this safe is pretty boring. All navy or all white makes a stronger style statement.
Skirts probably will stay above the knee one more season, but long is on the way back. Full, flowing summer skirts are a good buy.
Avoid wide-legged pants; the legs should be no fuller than a traditional trouser cut. The good news, if you're blessed with thin legs, is that super-skinny pants seem destined to stay around.
A-line and oversized tops are also likely to remain popular (because they're comfortable, and they cover the hips when you wear those pencil-thin trousers). Tent dresses and tunics are wonderful sale buys, as are big, breezy shirts.
If all-over lace hasn't run its course by next spring, maybe I'll buy it then. But I still won't like it.