After every fashion season we, and all other editors working anywhere, pore over a crazy amount of runway images, trying to slice and dice the looks into neat little categories called trends. If fringe appeared x amount of times, well, then fringe must be in, and it's our duty to proclaim it so.
But the truth is, no matter how trained our eyes are or how meticulously we group things, we never know what's actually going to take off in the "real world." All those pretty ruffles this spring? Not so much. But the pajama dressing come fall, yes!
Click through to see all the designer crazes that actually made it into your closets this year.
Black and White
Admittedly, it's hard to call black and white a "trend." The graphic pairing has been around forever and is essentially a classic. However, it truly was everywhere this year, both on and off the runways. And you could totally "have it your way," to quote the venerable sages over at Burger King. For spring, designers, like Alexander Wang and Phillip Lim, put a sporty twist on it, while Chanel kept it ladylike and Narciso Rodriguez stuck to traditional suiting. Then came Proenza Schouler's standout fall collection -- the first look, a cropped white jacket with rounded shoulders and a black below-the-knee pencil skirt -- still dances in our heads. And let's not even get into the wonderfully mod Dries Van Noten checkerboard slingbacks, a motif that was later seen on Altuzarra's cool ankle boots (now on sale at Saks Fifth Avenue, FYI).
Crop Tops If Susan Miller, great astrologist that she is, came to us at the beginning of the year and said, "It's happening: Normal people will actually wear crop tops," we would have laughed. Yet, they were indeed everywhere, not just on models, but on a party girl near you. Actually, that's not fair -- designers made these wearable, and dare we say, tasteful, by offering up slim-cut "classy" versions, often paired with an equally sleek-looking, high-waisted bottom for a minimal amount of skin on display. Of course, others went more daring and bared full-on belly button -- namely Miley Cyrus and any personal style blogger worth her salt -- but somehow those worked too.
Yet another challenging silhouette that went mainstream, and with it came a million "how to wear it" articles (with a cinched waist and a heel, for the record). With such styling tricks, these stuck-in-the-middle hemlines overcame their unflattering reputations and fashion editors took to them in droves. Designers offered iterations both slim and poofy, but it seems the voluminous ones really took off. People are still clamoring to get their hands on the mostly sold-out full skirts by Tibi, which have quickly become the golden standard of the category. (All the paint-splattered ones are gone, but there are still a few solids available on their website -- styled with crop tops no less, a 2013 trend double down!)
From the moment Hedi Slimane sent out his witchy women for his debut at Saint Laurent, nothing seemed more pressing than figuring out your own version of le smoking. Other designers seemed to be on the same page, crafting beautifully cut suits that sat along the tux spectrum. While the idea of such luxe menswear for the ladies has never necessarily been out of style -- someone always brilliantly pulls it off at the Met Ball -- there was a renewed sense of cool surrounding the idea.
Ah, the shoe that launched a thousand imitations. Oh, wait, it was the other way around. Regardless, Phoebe Philo's sly take on the good ol' Birkenstock set off a craze for so-called "ugly" yet highly comfortable shoes. Editors, bloggers, and fashion magazines couldn't get enough of the two-strap Arizona style this year (British Vogue's September coat editorial featuring Miranda Kerr was a high point). And those who could afford the mink-lined Célines (or knew people who could afford them on their behalf) snapped them up. This trend, steeped in '90s mania, is going nowhere, but only morphing into an obsession with Adidas shower sandals and Tevas.
Speaking of the '90s: grunge. Plaid, fuzzy sweaters, slip dresses...it could be said that vintage Courtney Love was fashion's biggest muse of the year. Dries Van Noten really kicked things off with his whisper-thin checked tops (and the subsequent Zara knockoffs). Phillip Lim also hit the note early on, sending models down the runway wearing "I [heart] Nueva York" tees, styled with plaid shirts tied around their waists. Things reached a fever pitch when Saint Laurent walked in the fall, and suddenly that Kurt Cobain-esque star-studded, baby blue cardigan was on everyone's wish lists. Givenchy also had shades of teen spirit in the form oversized knits layered over sheer skirts.
Signature Prints This year eased up on the experimentation with wild and crazy digital prints and saw a settling in to simpler, more digestible patterns. They were very branded, too, in the sense that other fashion people immediately recognized them from a mile away -- and dare we say, that was the point. Isabel Marant's take on Hawaiian kitsch, Vuitton's bold checks, Burberry's hearts, Givenchy's moody florals, Kenzo's evil eyes...all success stories that popped up on both the red carpet and street style blogs.
Thinking Pink We can't verify this, but we're pretty sure a whole bunch of designers had a secret screening of Funny Face back in 2012, and at that moment decided that pink was going to be the breakout color in the 12 months to come, Pantone color report be damned. How else to explain its ubiquity outside of repeated watchings of Kay Thompson doing her best Diana Vreeland, belting out that buoyant "Think Pink!" number? By fall, the obsession had morphed into something more specific: lust for a cotton-candy-hued coat. Zara, Club Monaco and ASOS couldn't keep their versions in stock, to say nothing of the coveted Carven number.
Oversized boyfriend coats have been bubbling up for a few seasons -- Isabel Marant's Fall 2011 Sohane style comes to mind, which she later replicated for her recent H&M collaboration. But this year, the biggest compliment one could pay you about your outerwear was, "It looks like you're wearing your dad's jacket." As in, it's not just slightly big, but big enough to accommodate a middle-aged, man-sized belly. Stella McCartney's plaid number was a popular choice (at least, popular enough to get referenced by Zara), and who could forget Carine Roitfeld (and later Kim Kardashian) prancing around in Max Mara's teddy bear style, fresh off the runway?
Marc Jacobs wasn't the only one wild about PJs in public this year. It seems the rest of us were game to give the look a go as well, even if we took the less literal route and experimented with slightly more formal loungewear. Suddenly loosely draped, silky pants looked like genius alternatives to skinny jeans and sumptuous bed jackets gave blazers a run for their money (you can thank The Row and Céline). Slip dresses, too, looked right, whether layered under sweaters (see: grunge) or on their own as an homage to '90s Kate Moss.