Flat smoking slippers in velvet or satin and wedge sneakers with studs and straps overtook sky-high platforms in the fashionable footwear race.
Whether it was tiny Union Jacks, tuxedos, stripes, crystal flowers or caviar pearls, nail art went from the subculture sidelines to becoming an everyday indulgence, and not just for flamboyant pop stars like Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga. The boom was due in part to nail technology advances, including new, easy-to-apply nail decals and gel-color manicures, which allow for long-lasting decoration, including gradated glitter and stripes, as well as crystal and charm appliques.
When Gwyneth Paltrow exposed her tanned tummy in a two-piece Emilio Pucci ensemble at the Emmys in September 2011, she was on to something. The midriff-baring trend, borrowed from the 1980s, has been gaining steam all year, with Hollywood's resident exhibitionists (Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus) racing to uncover. Crop tops were all over the fashion runways in September and October, seen at Balmain, Balenciaga and elsewhere, so don't expect this trend to go away anytime soon.
Hollywood stars also played peekaboo by wearing gowns with sheer panels and cutouts, none more so than Kristen Stewart, who turned heads at the L.A. premiere of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2" in a sheer corseted Zuhair Murad gown and wore several more nearly nude looks while promoting the film in the following weeks. The sheer trend has translated to the street in more subtle forms, among them sheer chiffon shirts and sleeves.
The year was so bright, you had to wear shades. Hot-hued jeans, Cambridge Satchel bags and nail polish were among the most popular traffic-stopping items.
Fashion magazines advised readers on how to mismatch prints, and blue jeans were covered in a riot of pattern and color. Designers put their best prints forward, with florals, foliage, paisleys, plaids, houndstooth checks and photo-realistic effects, all in an effort to stand out from the pack.
Wise owls, furry foxes and dashing dogs were among the cutesy creatures taking center stage on the fronts of sweaters and shirts by Burberry, J. Crew and Tory Burch. We're still waiting for a sweater featuring Karl Lagerfeld's beloved cat Choupette — who garnered many fashion headlines this year with her adorable antics and pampered lifestyle.
Leather and lace
Naughty and nice, leather and lace were both big trends, even better when worn together. We shopped for leather motorcycle jackets and pants, which were available everywhere from Proenza Schouler to Forever 21, and lacy T-shirts, sweat shirts, blouses and tops. It was all about mixing hard and soft.
Lizzie Garrett Mettler's "Tomboy Style" book, which came out in April, documented 80 years of women who blurred the gender lines. It was perfect timing, with designers showing gender-bending styles on the runways for fall, fictional action heroines like Lisbeth Salander and Katniss Everdeen hitting the big screen, and women borrowing style from the boys, including lace-up oxford shoes, tuxedos and fedoras.
From the malls to the multiplex, it was a banner year for the beard and mustache bunch and the companies that cater to them. Men's grooming became one of the fastest-growing segments in the beauty business. Gillette launched a grooming gadget called the Fusion ProGlide Styler and enlisted a trio of celebrities — André 3000 Benjamin, Gael García Bernal and Adrien Brody — as pitchmen. Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" served up more chin whiskers than that of all the previous year's movies combined.
Preppy's progenitor — Ivy League style — crept back into American men's wardrobes this year. It was found on the runway, where J. Press showcased a new back-to-the-Ivy-roots York Street capsule collection designed by Ariel and Shimon Ovadia. And it was featured in books and museum exhibitions, specifically the Museum at FIT's "Ivy Style" exhibition in New York City.