Fall 2012 Trend Guide: 17 Key Looks to Guide Your Season

Liz Doupnik
Fall 2012 Trend Guide: 17 Key Looks to Guide Your Season
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Fall is fashion’s biggest season, and the sheer amount of exciting new trends this season is reason enough to revitalize your wardrobe. From Colored Leather to Nouveau Rave to Exaggerated Shapes, this season is all about taking risks.

Whether your moves are as simple as incorporating a minimal and masculine-inspired jacket or as daring as rocking Bart Simpson printed sweater, celebrate your individuality by incorporating some bold pieces into your fall closet. You can forego redundancy and pepper in multiple inspirations, or you can favor one all-out look, but above all, be confident in your approach and have fun!

Here, we’ve compiled the biggest trends as seen on the fall runways, to serve as your guide in approaching your big wardrobe refresh. Which one’s your favorite? Tell us in the comments!

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Fall is fashion's biggest season. Here, we break down the biggest trends, straight off the runways, to set off some inspiration for your own wardrobe.

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New Nostalgia

If there was one thing that was evident on the fall runways, it was a nostalgia for an older time. Whether it was referencing the Victorian era or the swinging '60ss, reflection on the past was prominent. 

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Classic '50s dress shapes were incredibly popular for fall. Here, the fit 'n' flare silhouette is spruced up with a short hemline and neutral color courtesy of Dennis Basso's Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection.

The cocktail dress a la Brigitte Bardot received a facelift at Alice + Olivia with a modern pattern and vibrant color to present a refreshingly modern take on a classic.

It was all kinds of flower power on the runways as well. During Temperley London's Fall/Winter 2012-13, the days of Haight-Ashbury in the late 1960s were embodied as craft-inspired maxi dresses strutted down the runway, Afro and all.

Shift to another century, Victorian undertones were envisioned with black lace and opulent yet gothic details seen in shows such as Salvatore Ferragamo's Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection.

Ophelia was in the house during the Fall/Winter 2012-13 shows as well. Vivienne Westwood revived the mad and tormented character for the season with accentuated cuffs, rounded necklines and mid-length skirt hems.

Mad about Mad Men? Moschino and several other designers revealed that the Youthquake was back in a big way.. Channel your inner Megan with A-Line dresses, Mary Jane heels and mini-skirts like whoa.

It appears to be the perfect time for the Great Gatsby to begin advertising the release of the highly anticpated film. With 1920s making a massive resurgence, silent film stars are returning to the forefront of everyone's mind as seen here in Reem Acra's Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection.

Kick up your heels and dance the Charleston. Ralph Lauren suggests the 1920s are back as well with flapper-inspired details.

Menswear-Inspired Chic

Have you been fighting off the urge to raid your boyfriend's closet? This season is the time to give into temptation. Be sure to veer clear of loose, ill-fitting lightweight options. Select structured and tailored items to achieve sophisticated and clean lines.

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Assume the role of a English country gentlemen in this version as Ruffian displayed for Fall/Winter 2012-13.

Alber Ebaz proves that there's still nothing sexier than a woman in a man's coat in Lanvin's Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection.

Veronique Leroy suggests exaggerated proportions to achieve a masculine look in the Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection.

In DKNY's Fall/Winter 2012-13 showing, structured coats with leather details were both sophisticated, conservative and yet seductive.

Colored Leather

While we've been long been fans of leather, the fabric is getting a bold update for fall. With bold tones being key for the season, unexpected color treatments were applied to this must-have.

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Derek Lam presented a luxurious, oxblood colored leather dress for his Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection.

Cynthia Rowley introduced a season-appropriate pumpkin colored leather shirt for her Fall/Winter 2012-13 show.

YSL offered a moody, forest green approach for the season.

Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Are you a fan of mustard? Try donning the color of your favorite Dijon as Tommy Hilfiger did for the lines' Fall/Winter 2012-13 runway.

The Peplum Waist

Women have long struggled with the dreaded "trouble area" where our waists meet our hips. Lucky for us, the peplum waist is a popular shape for just about everything from blouses to skirts to dresses to even jackets, and the silhouette helps highlight curves while hiding less flattering areas.

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While we've long dismissed our body-con dresses from our wardrobes, we do still like to show off our figure. Alice + Olivia displayed the perfect solution in a printed, peplum dress for Fall/Winter 2012-13.

We may have previously questioned wearing a matching top and skirt, with the updated peplum detail on the blouse and use of a basic belt, this Burberry Prorsum look is incredibly elegant.

In this Lanvin style from its Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection, the pieced peplum detail serves as a wonderful point of interest and allows the eye to focus on the intricate top.

Winter Whites

It has long been one of fashion's "rules" that white shouldn't be worn past Labor Day. This season, however, the axiom has been turned on its head. 

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This all-white dress with a lovely eye-drop detail may have once been frowned upon by traditionalists. Bill Blass proves, however, that his look is not only season appropriate but downright smart.

Hello winter warrior. Begging to be taken out on a serious ski slope, this look from Alexander McQueen's Fall/Winter 2012-13 is one for snow bunnies of the future.

Alexander Wang's fall collection gives white-on-white a sporty edge.

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A menswear-inspired sophistication reigns in this all-white ensemble from Proenza Schouler's Fall/Winter '13 collection.

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Retro-inspired elegance at Derek Lam.

Photo: Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

Desert Tones

While black, grey, and darker tones were once the go-to for one's fall wardrobe, this season is veering towards a more neutral palette.  Imitating the day cycle of the desert, tones ranging from warm sand to cool, dusk skies to accents of invigorating daybreak.

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Bottega Veneta's minimal pieces were refined and reminiscent of warm desert stones in color.

Early morning skies are suggested with Isey Miyake's color choice for Fall/Winter 2012-13.

A soft, sandy-colored suit from Max Mara's Fall/Winter 2013 collection.

Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

All the key colors are seen here in Vera Wang's look from her Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection with warm sand tones and light browns.

The Explorers

This season's woman isn't a damsel in distress by any means. Curious, intelligent and independent, the season features themes like a Western settler in pursuit of a gold rush and an archeologist discovering some of the first secrets in the Egyptian pyramids.

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Heading out to a long archeological excursion, Max Mara woman is geared with a proper trench and utilitarian details for Fall/Winter 2012-13.

Givenchy displayed an updated take on the archeology trend for Fall/Winter 2012-13 with a satin jumpsuit and knee-high boots, perfect for discovering new grounds.

Floor grazing dresses with high-collars reference the Western pioneers as seen in Band of Outsiders' Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection.

Denim and lightweight cotton combinations channel the Oregon Trail travelers seen the Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection from Chris Benz.

Apocalypse Now

The Mayans may or may not have been correct about the end of the world in 2012. Regardless, designers sat up and took note and applied end of the world inspired prints to their pieces for fall featuring burn-out details, catastrophic scenes and patterns evocative of lava.

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Helmut Lang led this trend with all-over patterns of fire and fury applied to their looks from head-to-toe for Fall/Winter 2012-13.

Monique Lhuillier adorned her looks with prints reminiscent of fire and volcanic ash for the Fall/Winter 2012-13 season.

In the Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection from Giles, different chaotic scenes adorned extreme silhouettes to further the point.

Oncoming Opulence

Spanning brocade to intricate embellishments to lavish fabrics, opulence is in full force for fall. Offering extra texture and organic patterns, elaborate weaving techniques were applied to updated trousers, jackets and dresses to appear overly extravagant.

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King of luxury, Valentino presented dresses complete with over-the-top detailing.

The elaborate embroidery at Balmain evoked something between a Faberge egg and religious iconography.

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Brocade mingles with fur at Jason Wu's Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection.

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Liquid-like gold and embellishments on display at Marchesa's Fall 2012-13 runway show.

Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

Marc Jacobs applied an updated accent for the Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection, with rainbow colors intermingled with rich black to achieve the opulent effect.

Dolce & Gabbana opted for baroque reference with their heavy material and rich embroidery for Fall/Winter 2012-13.

Wednesday Addams

The ultimate goth princess, Wednesday Addams, seemed to pop up on several runways for the fall season. Capes, black baby doll dresses and corpse-like makeup were just a few of the traits seen as her influence made it into the procession of fall trends.

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Fit for a princess, the dark cape, head-piece and ruffled collar were all suited well enough for gothic royalty at Dolce & Gabbana's Fall/Winter 2012-13 show.

A younger Wednesday Addams marches down the runway in white tights and baby doll dress during Marni's Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection.

At Sonia Rykiel's Fall/Winter 2012-13 show, a more modern version of the dark daughter was displayed, yet with her stacked Mary Jane heels and black, pleated skirt her staple details are still present.

1940's Utilitarian

During the World War II period, women rolled up their sleeves, left the kitchen and filled jobs that were once only reserved for men. This confident, tailored mood is revisited as functional trousers are modernized in luxurious fabrics and practical accessories are reworked into sharp outfit additions.

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A cinched, '40s-inspired suit from Rodarte's Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection features exaggerated labels and an earthy hue.

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Although the fabrications were upgraded during Thomas Tait's Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection, the shapes and subtle color palette are pure 1940's work wear for women.

A '40s-influenced double-breasted jacket gets a graphic update at Prada.

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A full pleated skirt and school-boy blazer paired with socks and boots at Marc by Marc Jacobs' Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection remind us of the sophistication of the youth during WWII.

Black & Blue

Although bold colored embellishments accent outfits for the season, the color of combination of black and blue were distinct and presented a futuristic approach to even the most nostalgic of looks. Dependent on one's personal style, with this color pair will refresh even the dullest of outfits.

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Here, an electrifying royal blue coat invigorates a basic, black pant suit seen at Iceberg.

Black and Blue

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Though a simple shift dress, with the placement of blue colored inserts, this Ohne Titel dress looks fresh and slightly futuristic.

This Stella McCartney look from her Fall/Winter Fall 2012-13, energizes the rich embellishments, which could otherwise threaten to look heavy.

Eccentric Prints

From avant-garde trompe-l'oeil prints to tonuge-in-cheek kitsch, all-over patterns infuse  comedy to collections for fall. This season, try to stop taking yourself so seriously and have fun with fashion.

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Jeremy Scott recalled a favorite cartoon terror in his lighthearted collection for Fall/Winter 2012-13.

A cornucopia of digital prints at Mary Katrantzou.

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Oriental trompe-l'oeil prints were given a surrealistic treatment for Dries Van Noten's Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection.

Clashing original prints at Prada works perfectly thanks to the similar composition of the two mis-matched patterns.

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House of Holland demanded all to shed shyness and step out in bold zig-zag stripes for his Fall/Winter 2012-13 show.

Dominatrix Dressing

Now is not the season to be shy or stash your fantasies away. This fall, experiment with bondage influences from full leather looks to harnesses to achieve a tough and alluring look.

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Alexander Wang's Fall 2012-13 collection featured zipped-up glossy jackets that covered part of the models' faces.

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Herve Leger displayed harnesses reworked into caplets and more to achieve an unapologetic approach to dressing for Fall/Winter 2012-13.

This skin-tight Givenchy look is as covered-up as it is alluring.

Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

The lady of the house was in during Prabal Gurung's Fall/Winter 2012-13 show. Here, side cut-outs and up-to-there slits are brutally seductive.

Leave it to Versace to show just how to incorporate S&M aspects into your style without looking tawdry. In the lines' Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection, lace inserts soften the edge of the knee-high black boots and mini-skirt lengths.

Nouveau Rave

Light up your disco ball, don your favorite club kid garb and grab the closest glow stick. The days of 1990s raves are back, but with a facelift. Sheen, sheer and rainbow colors are just a few details to include when approaching this trend. Look to flatform sneakers and teddy bear backpacks to complete the look.

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Blumarine's skin-tight, seemingly neon paint splattered pants and metallic jacket suggest a full night of partying to a booming bass.

Jeremy Scott's Rainbow Brite outfit has us dancing in our seats with the shining, rainbow colored A-line mini and sky-blue lipstick from his Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection.

Vivienne Westwood channeled the rebellious nature in her Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection, with a technicolor cape and hydrological bodysuit.

Exaggerated Shapes

Forget form-fitting wear for fall. For the more daring of dressers, consider amplified silhouettes that are authentically avant-garde and directional.

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Pietra Metzger played with fluidity of fabric against the backdrop of a statement visor and jodpur trousers for Fall/Winter 2012-13.

The slouchy, menswear-inspired shapes at Proenza Schouler's Fall 2012-13 show were among the most acclaimed looks of the season. 

Photo: Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images

The construction master, Rei Kawakubo for her line, Comme Des Garcons, proposed enlarged construction paper cut-outs in the collection for Fall/Winter 2012-13.

Padding the surrounding hip area, Jean Paul Gaultier amplifies a new erogenous zone during his Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection.

Jock Jams

Ever wince when you're caught wearing your workout gears outside of the gym? Check the anxiety at the door. This season, athletic-inspired outfits are all the rage with sweatshirts and jersey invading from all sides.

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This track suit at Cacharel's Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection appears sophisticated and totally comfortable.

At Balenciaga's Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection, a straight up sweatsuit paraded down the runway that reminded us of a more chic outfit that could have been seen in Love and Basketball.

Sporting sweatpants can be surprisingly stylish if approached with a sense of humor and high-brow details as seen in Vivienne Westwood's Fall/Winter 2012-13 collection.

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