Style A-Z of 2012: Clare Coulson gazes into her fashion crystal ball

Style A-Z of 2012: Clare Coulson gazes into her fashion crystal ball

A… IS FOR AMERICANA

Fifties Americana is being championed by Prada. Think crop-sleeved satin coats, full skirts and frame bags. From the High Street, try pairing French Connection’s swishy peach full-skirted dress (110) with a cropped jacket.

B… IS FOR BELTS

As in the wide waist-cinchers by Celine. Use them on crisp white coats, boyish shirts, pencil skirts and utilitarian khaki shirt-dresses.

C… IS FOR COUTURE SHAPES

The Fifties revival continues with ballooning silhouettes, crisp peplum skirts and bold-shouldered jackets. Stick to sleeker shapes rather than the wasp-waisted dramatic silhouettes. Also, try balloon-sleeved tunics worn over skinny trousers (there are some nice tunics at Cos).

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From left: Trench coats, Victoria Beckham”s label and vegetable-inspired designs will influence 2012 fashion

D… IS FOR DEMURE

If you’re looking for the ultimate in romantic dressing, Valentino’s lace dresses tick all the boxes with their high necklines, puffed sleeves and demure ankle-length cut. They also perfectly sum up the season’s soft romantic mood.

E… IS FOR EXTRAORDINARY SHOES

Say goodbye to crazy platforms, but attention-seeking footwear remains a trend. Karen Millen’s beautiful floral print sandals (35 in the sale) are a good example, as are the flower-strewn heels at Nina Ricci and Rochas.

F… IS FOR FLAPPER DRESSES

There is a Twenties revival on the catwalks with fringed, drop-waisted dresses at Gucci, Alberta Ferretti and Etro, as well as more languid gowns at Ralph Lauren. Drop-waisted dresses are also available on the High Street — try the pink embellished style at Miss Selfridge (70).

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On trend: Keep your eyes peeled for extraordinary shoes and neon accessories

G… IS FOR GLOBAL TRAVELLER

Tribal prints and beading, raffia bags and khaki — spring brings a colourful mix of global-inspired trends. Mix them with sporty neutral separates (a lightweight Parka, for example, is spring’s coolest cover up). On the High Street, try this printed cardigan at Warehouse (48).

H… IS FOR HITCHCOCK BLONDE

Designers are channelling the sleek super-feminine look of the 1950s with perfectly coiffed hair-dos and immaculate hourglass dresses. Mimic that era’s make-up and hair with Chanel’s Pro Lumiere foundation, a simple slick of black eyeliner and a 1950s bob.

I… IS FOR ITALIAN WOMEN

The surrealist work of influential Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, arch rival of Coco Chanel and one of the 1940s’ most prolific fashionistas, is being showcased in New York next year. Expect a global wave of renewed interest.

J… IS FOR J CREW

The American chain beloved of Michelle Obama is set to open its first London store this year with lusciously colourful cashmere and preppy classics.

I is for Italian women: Zsa Zsa Gabor wearing one of Elsa Schiaparelli

I is for Italian women: Zsa ZsaGabor wearing one of Elsa Schiaparelli”s designs

K… IS FOR KOOKY

The next High Street designer collaboration to get excited about is H&M’s pairing with cult Italian brand Marni. Expect plenty of graphic prints, bracelet-sleeved coats and dresses and cool perspex jewellery when it arrives in store on March 8.

L… IS FOR LAVIN

Designer Alberto Elbaz is celebrating a decade at Lanvin this year and we have lots to thank him for, from the revival of ballet flats and ribboned dresses to the resurgence of the pretty cocktail dress.

M… IS FOR MACAROON COLOURS

Pale rose and pretty peach, cool pistachio and lemon — it’s the season of pastel colours. Stick to clean, simple shapes such as this bandeau dress at Topshop (55).

N… IS FOR NEONS

Hot on the heels of last summer’s bright red jeans craze comes something even more dazzling: neons. Skinny jeans in highlighter-pen colours such as fluorescent green, yellow, orange and pink will be all over the place in a couple of months. For a more wearable version of the trend, a clutch in a bold colour, such as Zara’s bright orange snakeskin number (79.99), would do the trick.

O… IS FOR OUTRAGEOUS PRINTS

Almost every label is featuring hot-house florals, tropical patterns and digitally engineered ‘hyper-prints’ for spring. The printed trouser is a look worth investing in — Whistles has a nice pair emblazoned with winding wisteria (125).

P… IS FOR PEPLUM

On jackets, skirts or even attached separately, the sculptural peplum stormed the international collections. McQueen produced some of the best — expect the Duchess of Cambridge to showcase the look some time soon. A simple peplum detail top from New Look (6) is an easy and affordable way to wear this trend.

Q… IS FOR QUEEN VICTORIA

Beckham, that is. There’s no stopping Posh’s quest for fashion domination, and this February her cheaper diffusion line releases its debut collection packed full of cute, swingy, colourful dresses.

R… IS FOR RUCKSACK

No longer the preserve of hikers or hoodies, the humble backpack is fashion’s coolest carry-all. Topshop has an array of eye-catching numbers (metallic rucksack, 38).

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Nomadic: Tribal prints will be a fashion feature of 2012 and rucksacks are back in vogue

S… IS FOR SPORTS CHIC

The impending Olympics have prompted a deluge of sporty references, from mesh and Aertex fabrics to luxury tracksuits. Stella McCartney will be kitting out Team GB at the Olympics.

T… IS FOR TRENCH COAT

Having yet another revival on the catwalks, the humble trench is reinvented this spring in myriad variations from the deliciously pretty printed raincoats (Erdem) to the cool conceptual (Junya Watanabe).

U… IS FOR UNDER WATER

An aquatic theme dominates the spring collections, so expect the High Street to be awash with deep blues, wave details and all sorts of sea life embroideries.

V… IS FOR VEG

The season’s unlikeliest emblem. Aubergines, onions, courgettes, peppers and tomatoes all appear in mouth-watering prints in the Dolce & Gabbana collection.

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J Crew will open its first London store this year (left) and couture shapes will continue to be popular

W… IS FOR WHITE SHIRT

This timeless classic is back in a big way for spring. Tuck neat versions into opulent silk or embroidered skirts as seen at Christopher Kane. Pick up this wardrobe essential at M&S for a purse-friendly 18.

X… IS FOR X FACTOR

No, not that one. The hunt is still on for a talent to replace John Galliano at Christian Dior, but the odds are stacked on Jil Sander’s talented Raf Simons to win fashion’s longest running talent contest. The thoughtful Belgian designer is sure to bring a cool, minimalist look to Dior.

Y… IS FOR YELLOW

It’s a colourful season but yellow stands out as one of the most directional colours. Topshop’s pleated Spring Equinox skirt is vivid enough to brighten up dull spring days (48, in store January 6).

Z… IS FOR ZZZZZZ

Sleepwear is fashion’s latest kooky obsession, especially men’s pyjamas, which provide the inspiration behind Stella McCartney’s silky paisley pant-suits.