By Wendy Donahue

(MCT)

Pity the shivering masses who thought they could stuff their jackets into storage closets come May and rely on cardigans until September.

A spate of rain and unseasonably cool weather in much of the country has made the notion of "summer coats" seem a whole lot less anachronistic.

The addition of that accessory catapults the piece from an afterthought to an outfit in itself.

"The coat has become kind of a dress now," Morrison said. "You can wear something underneath that's as old as the hills and no one will care."

Where the mercury rises, so does the air conditioning.

So a dressy anorak or updated trench in a lightweight fabric can be kept in rotation all summer. Even if the coat comes with its own belt, consider subbing in a leather, braided, stretch, Lucite or metallic belt.

Blazers present a shorter alternative.

Finally, one of the most versatile alternatives is back: the fitted jean jacket. Morrison likes an undersized jean jacket paired with an airy tank dress, she says, "to play with proportion." Bonus: You probably have one in your closet already.

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Your tabula rasa: A Daisy Fuentes anorak in white, marked down at last check to

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stores and kohls.com, lends itself to a variety of wide belts, including a stretchy Simply Vera Vera Wang wood buckle belt,

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