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. Pre-fall is like the industry’s best-kept secret for clothes you can wear and enjoy all year.

Perhaps that explains why the shipment of Pre-Fall 2012 bags that just arrived at Neiman Marcus are so aggressively neutral. Don’t get me wrong, though, these bags have plenty of personality; from Fendi to Reed Krakoff, these designers have combined seemingly every neutral shade in their arsenal to make bags that are both wearable and eye-catching. With so many brights clogging store shelves for spring and summer, it’s almost refreshing to see those styles re-imagined in shades of black, brown, tan and grey. Check out some of our favorites after the jump. (more…)

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.

Clean, efficient lines are the thing that makes all of the season’s other trends work, so that’s why we’re closing out or seasonal roundup with some of the best basics that the runways have to offer. These shapes provide a strong, modern canvas on which embellishment and detail can take center stage, but by themselves, the effect is still pretty nice. (more…)

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.

Chanel’s collection made the biggest velvet statement of the season, using the material in saturated jewel tones on the lust-worthy Boy Chanel bags. Calf hair, on the other hand, looked best in the Tangerine Tango iteration of Mulberry’s much-loved Alexa bag. In general, velvet is a more difficult material to pull off than calf hair, so unless you’re going for the gold with one of Chanel’s bags, use caution. Or just use calf hair, which almost always looks chic and polished. (more…)

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.

That’s why the third day of our Fall 2012 Trend Week is dedicated to bags with Serious Embellishment, all the way from Chanel to Marc by Marc Jacobs. I particularly like this trend because it’s bendable to every personal style; no matter whether you’re super girly or tend toward punk details, there’s a type of embellishment out there for you. Also, for the budget-conscious, this is one big texture trend that won’t empty your bank account, so enjoy it while it lasts. If you’re extra-crafty, you might even be able to DIY it, but if it turns out badly, don’t tell anyone it was my idea. (more…)

Are you familiar with astrakhan? If you’re not, you should go ahead and get familiar, because it’s going to be everywhere come Fall 2012. In fact, fur in general is the trend that just won’t die, which is why we’re highlighting it today in our ongoing Fall 2012 Trends Week. Whether you prefer your fur bags short or long, it looks as though you’ll have plenty of choices come cold weather.

Astrakhan in particular, a close-cropped, wavy lamb fur, made a big splash, dotting the runways of enormous designers like Dior, Ferragamo and Fendi. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum were the Cousin It bags at Louis Vuitton, which looked like they’d come with their very own brush for upkeep. There wasn’t a lot in the middle – either designers are trying to stay away from the puffball look by using short, neat fur panels, or they’re going full monty with more fur than I have in my head. Our picks from the runway and how to get the look right now, after the jump. (more…)

Today might feel like a typical Monday (or it might feel a little atypical because of your brown liquor hangover from the Mad Men premiere, yeah, I know what you were doing last night), but around these parts, today kicks off our Fall 2012 Trends Week. That’s right, each day we’re going to highlight a people accessories look from the Fall 2012 runways, tell you which bags you should be anticipating and show you where you can shop the trend right now, if you’re the impatient type.

Because I also spent last night with Don Draper and Peggy Olson (our recap will be up in a little while!), we’re starting with the biggest, clearest trend from what seemed like virtually every major accessories runway: The Not-So-Basic Black Bag. If you’re a neutral-lover and the past year or two of color on top of color has become a bit monotonous, Fall 2012 is a season you’re going to love. These bags are anything but business as usual, though; for fall, black is textured and embellished, fur-covered and embroidered. (more…)

The minty fresh Alexander Wang bags from last week got me thinking – if Alexander Wang can make a pastel bag, and if I can find something to love about its utter lightness, then there has to be a pastel bag out there for everyone. Many of you weren’t as enthusiastic about the Wang bags as Megs and I were, but that’s ok; if I can come around to the idea of pastels, so can anyone. If you want to, that is. If not, I won’t blame you for sticking with brights or black or whatever your signature look might be.

For those of you whose interest might have been piqued by the idea of paleness for spring and summer, though, we’re way ahead of you. After the jump, you’ll find our favorite pastel bags at a variety of price points and in a variety of shades, all the way from colors that somehow find a balance between pastel and neon to those that are so light, they’re barely perceptible. Check ‘em out and let us know your favorite in the comments. (more…)

Ok, so we’ve spent plenty of time lately talking about brights, neons and other assorted eye-assaulting colors that you might want to wear for spring. While Megs and I love and adore those kinds of bags, we realize that they may not be for every, either in a practical or an aesthetic sense. If you’d like something a tad more neutral but you still want to update your bag wardrobe for spring, you’re in luck – snakeskin is still the texture that everyone wants to have.

We’ve covered the all-snake look in the past, but for many women, a bag that mixes snakeskin and regular leather is a more demure option that allows a bag to be acceptable in a work environment where it might have otherwise been a bit too showy. Plus, mixing textures is also a big trend, so you’re getting a little bang for your buck here. (Your metaphorical buck, at least. Stuff’s still expensive.) And yes, we included one bright option. It’s almost spring, I couldn’t help it. (more…)

Every year, Pantone picks a new color as a PR stunt to have us all talk about Pantone and colors for a week or two. Every year, it totally works. It’s a gimmick with staying power! Most years, the color selections seem a bit…off, at least by fashion standards. The last two have been a dark teal and a disappointingly middling shade of pink, neither of which had anything to do with the neon-a-gogo mood of the style industry in 2010 and 2011. For 2012, Pantone managed to get it right – the bright, saturated, orange-y reds that we’ve seen all over the runways for the past two seasons (and that were especially popular for Resort and Spring 2012) is 2012′s Color of the Year.

It’s technically called Tangerine Tango, but I see a lot more red than orange when I look at Pantone’s official swatch. Almost all of my friends have lamented this shade as a difficult one to wear, but that’s where being a handbag person comes in handy – you can wear it all you want, and since the color doesn’t sit near your face, it doesn’t matter if it’s flattering to your skin tone. Naturally, we have six handbag options in red-orange so that you can get a jump on 2012. (more…)

When it became clear that ivory and pastels were going to be one of the biggest trends of 2012, I felt a bit disheartened at first. Very light colors can be a bit challenging to most skin tones, much more so than brights or jewel tones. Since we’re all basically self-interested people, I feel as though I should admit that they look particularly bad on me, which makes it especially hard to embrace even a subtle and ladylike trend like the largely cool-toned (it makes them less retro!) pastels of the Spring 2012 runways.

That’s the beauty of handbags, though. If you want to embrace a color trend without having to wear it next to your face for an entire day, accessories are the perfect way to do it; when a piece is viewed mostly against the colors of the rest of your outfit, whether or not it looks good on your particular skin tone becomes something of a non-issue. After the jump, we have six of our pastel picks so that you can start wearing the trend before spring’s bags even hit stores. (more…)

Follow Closely