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Updating your wardrobe each season can be a challenge for even the savviest fashionista. With a confusing barrage of looks coming down the catwalks for 2012, how do you determine the hottest trends -- and which will work for you? And what if your closet is chock full of 2011 clothes that you're not ready to ditch?
Style visionary Arabella Greenhill offers her insight on what to wear in 2012. As senior fashion editor of British "Marie Claire" magazine and a personal stylist to boot, she's always front and center at the fashion shows -- and fabulously expert at predicting the hottest looks for the new season.
It’s about finding what suits you, adjusting it to your look and making fashion work for you.
- Arabella Greenhill, senior fashion editor of U.K. "Marie Claire" magazine and personal stylist
Q: What will the main trends be for 2012?
A: One of the biggest trends is going to be a late '50s/early '60s style. It’s the "Mad Men" kind of look that was around two summers ago, but it didn’t really happen then. However, now, with the influence of shows from that era like "Pan Am," it feels really huge. Think of it as a kind of twisted American housewife look -- you’ll want a full skirt and winged eyeliner.
There’s also a look we’ve called "modern sweetness," which involves pastel colors, lace and pretty pleats. Then there’s a big tribal trend, which has lots of zebra and snakeskin prints, but at the same time feels quite urban. In general, prints are a big feature for next season -- and it’s not just floral prints. There will be a lot of digital prints, photo prints and mixed prints.
Next, there’s an urban sportswear trend, which is a lot of blouson jackets, parkas and zippers. This isn’t about the traditional tracksuit; it’s more couture sportswear than active sportswear. For example, Victoria Beckham did a lot of this look in her collection with fitted dresses that had big elastic straps, suggesting a sportswear look with fabric.
Then there’s a trend for couture shapes -- which is about wider and rounder shoulders and peplum skirts. It’s rather like a classic Balenciaga shape, but it’s very modern and beautiful and also quite difficult for the cheaper stores to replicate because the cut has to be perfect. This sort of look is always best in designer clothes, rather than budget knockoffs. There's also lots of shine and shimmer and metallics around going into 2012.
The brighter colors we saw in 2011 have now moved into new pastel shades for 2012 summer. Expect to see these colors featured in a lot of color blocking.
Finally, there’s 1920s flapper-style looks from Marc Jacobs and Gucci. It was an era of beautiful dresses with dropped waists. This look feels like a nod toward the "Great Gatsby" film, which is coming out in 2012.
Q: What will you personally be wearing in 2012?
A: I love all the prints, but I probably won’t mix them -- even though putting a print with a clashing print is a trend. I’ll probably wear something like a gray sweatshirt with a great printed skirt -- which will be slightly fuller and lower on the waist with some wide pleats. This style of skirt was shown in the Jonathan Saunders show. I like the idea of color blocking, but being English with red hair and freckles, I have to be careful with the bright colors! I’ll probably also be wearing a lot of cropped trousers and some metallics.
Q: What trends can we wear from our 2011 closet into next year?
A: Color has been around for a while, but it really wasn’t picked up by everyone. Now, though, people are getting a lot more confident with color, so that will carry through to next season. You can wear the bright colors you might have tried in 2011 -- and pair them with the new pastels next summer for a color-blocking look.
Lace is sticking around, as is black and white monochrome, which is always really chic and sharp. So hang onto anything that would work for these looks.
Mixing contrasting fabrics has been a longer-standing look, too. In the winter of 2011, we saw sweatshirts with leather sleeves -- and going into next summer, you might wear a satin top with a cotton sleeve, for example. It’s about mixing two contrasting fabrics, so keep anything along those lines.
Also from winter 2011, there were a lot of shimmer and shine and Lurex fabrics around -- and they’re going to carry through to next year, too. If you’re wearing those shimmery looks with black right now, they’ll also look great next summer with white or a pastel color.
You can also keep any slightly longer skirts you might have. These longer lengths will carry through into 2012. Skirts should be on the knee, just above the knee or maxi length now and into next year.
Q: If we’re not model skinny, how can we make 2012 trends work?
A: I always think that for any size, it’s best to keep the clothes simple. You can choose a great, flattering cropped pant or rolled-up jean -- and wear them all the time with great blouses. Then all you have to do is change the shoes and the bag and accessories to completely change and modernize your outfit. It’s also important to look at the trends and ask, "What’s actually going to suit me?" Certain trends don’t suit everyone -- and not everyone likes them. It’s about finding what suits you, adjusting it to your look and making fashion work for you, rather than trying to make yourself fit the trends.
Q: What accessories should we be wearing in 2012?
A: There will be lots of long, dangling statement earrings. Marni did beautiful '60s plastic earrings, then Prada just launched long diamante earrings with little roses on them for their Cruise collection. They’re slightly kitsch, but very cool. It’s very much an earring season in 2012.