Fashion Forward-Looking

Women, hear this: In 2012, we’ll throw away our power suits, scrap those tired boyfriend jeans, and toss out utilitarian military looks. A return to femininity is upon us.

The color palette on spring 2012 runways has been overwhelmingly pastel: Prada’s soft, pleated A-line frocks; Valentino’s pale, etched lace numbers; Louis Vuitton’s cotton-candy ensembles; Preen’s playful, whimsical pairings.

A peplum silhouette, a short overskirt attached to a dress, skirt, or jacket, reigned supreme. Talk about a throwback; the look became widely popular all the way back in the 1940s. This year, Jason Wu, favorite designer of first lady Michelle Obama, showed it; Nina Ricci and YSL did so, as well; and even Giorgio Armani, known the world over for his sleek, minimalist (antifeminine) designs, included it in his show.

Elegant, fussy matte satin prevailed as the fabric of choice, with Balenciaga, Miu Miu, Lanvin, Victoria Beckham, and Christopher Kane working their respective magic with the stuff.

Still, it remains to be seen whether we’ll see a full-on revival of Christian Dior’s New Look of 1947, which defined femininity as full bustlines, tiny waists, and billowing skirts. This came in the wake of World War II, when the men had been overseas, the women had taken jobs in the factories, and the materials used in haute couture had been rationed. When the men came back home, Rosie the Riveters were encouraged to step back into the role of housewives and to indulge in frivolous luxuries.

It’s true that tens of thousands of soldiers are scheduled to return from Iraq and Afghanistan, but it’s unlikely that today’s liberated woman is going to embrace such a dramatic social shift. It’s more likely that next year’s flirty fashion will be just be a dalliance, a chance for well-rounded women to flaunt their fun, feminine sides.

Ariel Kaiser is a wardrobe stylist and a lifestyle blogger living in Brooklyn with her fiancé. She styles celebrities, models, musicians, kids, and real women of every shape and color. When she isn’t running around Manhattan with a towering pile of garment bags, she’s writing posts for her popular women’s style blog, which appears on The Thread. Like her mother, she’s never paid full retail price for anything.