Fashion Forecast for 2012 … Sunny with a Sprinkle of Femininity

December 16, 2011
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by Julie Davis

This past year, fashion was exceptionally loud: primary colors, wild prints, dramatic lengths (think the maxi dress) and big, bold statement-making jewelry. It was also the year of the gentleman, with menswear influences bullying their way (albeit beautifully) into several silhouettes.

For 2012, designers have tapped their softer sides with a return to full-on femininity. Light colors, easy patterns and an overall more romantic feel, along with classic pieces, remain the cornerstone of a truly fashionable—and functional—wardrobe.

Understated is a key word for the New Year. “It’s about ease and simplicity. Looking a little undone, but pretty and balanced, not messy or grungy like we’ve seen in years past,” says Vicki Cohen, style expert and founder of Style Hunter. Balance and proportion are equally as important. “Perfectly mixed proportions look modern. Pair a loose flowing shirt with a slim trouser, or baggy pants with a fitted top,” adds style expert Suze Yalof Schwartz.

While designers, for the most part, are in a minimalist and ladylike state of mind, beauty pros are anything but. Topping the beauty trend list for 2012: bold lips, smoldering lids and skin as dewy as an early summer morning.

The full forecast follows.

Rainbow Sherbet

Color is next year’s big story, with the spotlight shining on pastels—a pinwheel of shell pink, baby blue, mint green and ripe apricot seen at Tibi, Philip Lim, Ralph Lauren and Prada, among others. Some fashion insiders argue that pastels feel somewhat matronly, while others assure the new palette is much more modern and refined. Schwartz says it all comes down to how you wear it. “You want to mix pastels in odd, unexpected ways. Pair mint with lavender and add a touch of peach,” she says. Adds Cohen, “Pastels are much more flattering to the skin tone than some of the color stories we’ve seen in the past. And they wear well with what you already have in your closet—anything black, navy or tan.”

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Feminine Dressing

Pretty, romantic silhouettes at Christian Dior's Spring 2012 show.

Flirty shifts, florals and knits dresses, with peplum accents and other romantic frills, are in full bloom. “There’s definitely a departure from the boxy, architectural silhouette,” says Cohen. “Dresses for 2012 are more body conscious, but not tight. They accent the body without being too structured.” Hemlines are also rising, with last year’s duster lengths being traded in for the knee or just above.

 Sporty Chic

“There’s a big movement toward sportswear and athletic styling,” says Cohen. Thankfully, it looks nothing like the tight, hard-edged ‘80s gear. Instead, designers are using lighter fabrics, comfortable fits and cleaner lines. Among the big winners: nylon skirts, mesh accents, and chic anoraks that promise to make carpooling in the rain (or snow) extremely stylish.

Arm Candy

Rose gold is having its “golden” moment. Watches and bangles in the shimmering metal are poised to be the hot hardware of the New Year. A continuing trend is layering bangles and cuffs—piling on different shapes, styles and metals to create your own signature look.

 Loud Mouths

Feminine floral dresses and bold red lips at the Christian Dior Spring 2012 show.

As models paraded down the runway at Dior, Jason Wu, Ann Sui and YSL, every beauty editor had the same silent thought: red lips were last year—and the year before. The difference for 2012: the look is less matte and a lot more dewy, and not nearly as precise in application. Pat it on with your fingers for lips that make a modern statement.

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High Drama

Smokey eyes are still on fire. At Rodarte, Gucci and Alexander Wang, makeup artists went heavy on the lids, but with a slight twist. After applying a traditional dark eye, they muddled it up, using clear gloss and Vaseline to give it an untidy, yet very sexy, edge.

The Wet Look

Luminizer is the number one must-have for every makeup bag. It adds a youthful luminosity wherever you apply it. At the spring shows (where the beauty trends emerge), makeup artists saturated the models’ skin, creating a dramatic, shimmering, wet-look effect. How the rest of us will be wearing it: dab a small drop wherever you want to shine—above the brows, along the cheekbones or washed over the lids. Try mixing a drop with foundation for a perfect glow every time.

 Knots Landing 

The topknot made headlines in 2011 (hair wrapped in a bun at the top of the head). For 2012, side, low or a messy, undone knot is this year’s crowning glory. The look couldn’t be any easier—just grab the hair, twist and secure. It’s an effortlessly chic style to wear with jeans or any of the new ultra feminine dresses.


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