Trends are Passé? A Survival Guide to Fall Fashion 2012

Are trends passé?  That was the question posed last month by The New York Times writer Ruth La Ferla.   Her point was that the lines between who and what dictates a trend have become blurred and democratized thanks to technology.  It’s no longer just those in fashion’s Ivory Tower who get to choose, it’s anyone with a passion, an idea or a camera.

Fall 2012 is a perfect example.  I have never seen fashion so spaz-tastic.  It’s not that there’s a lack of trends, it’s that’s there’s a lack of focus.

Anything and everything goes.  Confusion is the new black.

I find this idea exhilarating and terrifying.

On one hand, I like creating a wardrobe that’s limited only by my body type and imagination.  Tutus, tartan and tiaras coming right up!   On the other, while I pretend I’m the master of my fashion destiny, the truth is I cling to sanctioned trends like a security blanket.

Ever the optimist though, I am choosing to look at Fall 2012 as the season where it’s almost impossible to fail at fashion.

So for your consideration, here are some trends ideas for Fall 2012:

1. Crazy prints.  Don’t be intimidated, let your freak flag fly with prints.  Put anything together, shoot the couch, tear down the drapes and make a suit out of it.  The more mismatched, the closer you are to fashion nirvana.   Blame Prada.

All kidding aside, crazy prints aren’t so bad if you start out with just one item, but you get extra fashion brownie points if you’re bold enough to pull of a suit.  Printed Capri pants and pencil skirts are everywhere, just be sure to get the right fabric and chose a print that’s on the smaller side so you don’t look like a walking piece of furniture.  And remember, that the more outlandish the print, the more dated it’s likely to look in a year or two.

2) Brocade, black and gold.  This makes me feel all sorts of Dolce and Gabbana virgin/whore in the best possible way.  What I like about this is that brocade is a classic that’s been rebooted with a shot of gold and black, so if you invest on a major piece, you’re likely to get a lot of runway out of it.  Brocade is also a wonderful fabric for hiding lumps and bumps, just be sure you wear this in small doses and that the fabric isn’t so thick that it’s stiff or adds bulk.

3. Leather. Go on, blame 50 Shades of Grey, but spank me I’m thrilled leather is back in full force. It’s a great investment piece because it’s like the Fort Knox of Spanx, moths can’t eat it and it was front and center at the Spring 2013 shows, so this trend has staying power.

The best part about leather though, is that it’s a statement piece that tells the world you’re confident, sexy, substantive, but not to be messed with.  The trick is play down everything else you wear.  Just leather pants and a simple cashmere sweater are all you need; don’t worry about make-up or even brushing your hair.  No one will notice.   Shhh….leather will do the talking.

4) Wine, oxblood, cordovan, burgundy.  Who would have thought that a color normally seen on upholstered chairs in the Library of Congress would become  is the “it” shade of the season?   The last time I saw oxblood, I was 8.  My mom has a collection of Etienne Aigner hand bags, a designer who seemed to have made a pact with the devil to only design in this color.  For that reason, oxblood in my mind will forever be stained with 1976.  But, that’s my issue.  For most it’s a wonderful new neutral and plays beautifully with navy.  The only watch out is to make sure it truly flatters your skin tone; this color has a variety of different undertones that can make or break how it looks with your complexion.

5) Sculpted waistline.  Basically this is peplum redux (a trend that is slowly waning).  While I don’t need any help accentuating my hips, this trend is worth noting because this silhouette  is everywhere.  In real life it’s getting translated into very sculpted waists lines on what otherwise would be A line dresses.  The right cut, and this can be very flattering, but it takes a lot of patience trying stuff on to find the right piece.

6) Man shoes.  I’m grateful for whoever decided “man shoes” should resurface.  Nothing can ever replace heels in my heart, but “man shoes” are a nice alternative for those days when I actually have to get somewhere.   Although ballet flats are adorable, they make my feet look unusually wide.  “Man shoes” on the other hand, have structure and hight that I find more flattering and comfortable.  Whether it’s the hipster pilgrim (hey, didn’t we meet back in 1997?), the velvet tuxedo loafers with a nifty crest or snazzed up loafers, this is one trend I’m happy to embrace.

7) Black and blue.  If there is one thing you try this year, do this!   Here’s why; black on it’s own often sucks the life out of anyone over 30, while navy is just plain “meh”.  But like peanut butter and chocolate, together they’re pure magic.   The only word of caution is to make sure there is enough contrast between the navy and black so it doesn’t look like you got dressed in the dark; it has to look intentional, not accidental.

8) Embellished Collars.  An evolution of the statement necklace which I love because it brings attention to your face and is an easy way to sparkle up an otherwise plain top.  I’ll take as many as I can get my hands on.  In fact, if I weren’t all thumbs, I would DIY Bedazzle my way to embellished collar glory.  Careful not to overload on the accessories when sporting a jeweled collar.

9) Big bold coat.   A resurrection from the fashion graveyard of the mid-late 1980s.  That’s OK, a slightly oversized coat is nice, especially right after the holidays when you don’t want to have to explain your penchant for eggnog to your wardrobe.   And if we think overstuffed parkas look OK, then why not these?

10) Cap toe shoes.  This started a few seasons ago and seems to have reached total mass saturation, especially with the metallic tip.  I love this look and think it updates an ordinarily classic shoe, but don’t too nuts here.  The metallic tip will look dated the instant this trend dies out, so enjoy now (I give it about a year or two).  The duo-toned caps have a slightly longer shelf life and the classic cap toe flats will be around forever of course.

Since it’s open season on fashion, what trends ideas are you trying for fall?

Credit: My backstage pass to all of the shows must have gotten lost in the mail, so the images in the collages are pulled from,, Viva Woman, Refinery29, The Cut, Who What Wear,, Harper’s Bazaar, Frugal Fashionista.  Collages were all created by