As consumers, finding the right wardrobe balance of classic pieces and trendy accents can be tough. So many trends will look obviously outdated after a season or two that even if you love them, it can be hard to justify spending the big bucks on something that will look old almost immediately. That’s why Fall 2012 is so major – so many of the big runway trends are things that a well-stocked wardrobe should have anyway, all the way from knee-high boots to a good black bag.

Now that aggressive colorblocking (and to a certain extent, pattern-mixing) has run its course, designers have moved on to mixing textures. One wonders exactly where the fashion industry will go once piling beads, fur, studs and jingle bells onto the same outfit becomes tiresome (all the way back around to stark minimalism, probably), but for the moment, your style pursuit for fall is to load up on all the wonderful textures you can.

At a certain point, a popular bag design reaches such full saturation that designers who make bags in its image are no longer ripping off someone else’s work, but simply designing to fit a trend. It’s a bag designer’s job to interpret what consumers want for their own brand, of course, and lately, consumers want the Celine Luggage Tote. That’s great for Celine, but it also works out well for everyone else; at this point, the shape of the Luggage Tote has become a short-term icon, and consumer demand for it far outpaces both Celine’s ability to produce bags and the market’s ability to provide consumers who all want to carry exactly the same thing.

Color is a bit of a tricky proposition for cooler months; brights can feel inappropriate, and as much as I’m a fan of aggressive season-pushing when a piece is amazing and just must be worn immediately, the reality of winter is that even most people who love brights have to embrace darker, more neutral colors, at least for a few months.

It’s been a long time since the handbag world has had a new shape emerge. For the past several seasons, it’s mostly been wall-to-wall small crossbodies and tailored, ladylike satchels with a few popular north-south totes thrown in, and just like any predilection that’s been around for a while, those norms were bound to be challenged sooner or later. I simply didn’t expect ultra-wide east-west satchels to be the bags to do it.

There’s no official measure to test whether or not something has officially become a trend, but the unofficial standard that I use goes something like this: When three different pieces from three different brands repeat the same element, and those pieces are all available at roughly the same time, it’s a pretty good bet that more of the same is on the way from other brands and at other price points.

Pre-fall collections are a beautiful thing. Not only do they give us something to talk about, look at and eventually buy during what used to be the awful, seemingly endless summer retail slump, but the clothes and accessories therein also tend to be exceedingly practical and wearable in a way that collections that have to turn heads on a highly publicized runway often aren’t.

So far in our Fall 2012 Trend Week, we’ve talked a lot about trends with big personality – fur, giant studs, jeweled embellishments, velvet and calf hair. The question, of course, is how do designers manage to take those bold ideas and translate them into something wearable and chic instead of kitschy and silly? For fall, the answer seems to be all about the Minimal Shapes on which those embellishments appear.

For today’s installment of our Fall 2012 Trends Week, we’re actually bringing you two, two, two trends in one! Calf Hair and Velvet were both all over the accessories on the Fall 2012 runways, and although I was initially tempted to split them up, talking about them together makes more sense. They’re both soft, low-pile materials that have rich visual and tactile texture, and they can both look incredibly expensive when used correctly.

For the past several seasons, designers have been testing their creativity by seeing how many different ways they can create color on a handbag – matte neons, patent brights, technicolored pythons, tie-dyed leather. Print, patterns, you name it. Finally, for Fall 2012, it looks like that trend has reached its logical extreme and designers are now dotting their bags with every manner of embellishment from delicate beaded embroidery to giant, all-over ball studs.

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