How to Make 2012’s Fashion Trends Work for You

This winter’s fashion trends include such classics as pearls, turtlenecks, loafers and tortoise-print accessories. They’re great looks that work on anyone, anywhere.

But what about the more daring looks, such as mixed prints, flapper dresses, capes and even feathers? These are hot this season too, and you may be wondering how you can possibly pull these styles off -- without looking like you came late to the Halloween party. Fear not! This advice from top designers will show you how to wear these bold styles with confidence and class.

Contrasting Patterns
Mixing florals, plaids, stripes, polka dots and swirls in your outfit can result in a skillful mashup -- or a mixed-up mess. The keys to making this look work are scale, color and contrast, says Liz Lange, fashion designer and co-founder of Shopafrolic.com. “A big print should be worn on a smaller garment, like a short skirt, tight top or scarf. A tiny print can be on something longer and fuller,” says Lange. “Stripes become your neutral.”

Only the most confident can pull off a head-to-toe kaleidoscope of prints, says Lange. A better option is to wear two different patterns in similar shades, or separate the top and bottom pieces with a solid-hued belt or other accessory. But the worst offense, says Lange, is timidity. If you’re going to mix patterns, make them really stand out from each other. “Don’t look like you tried to match two prints and were slightly off.”

Feathers
Clothes and accessories trimmed with plumes are eye-catching, but wearing feathers in the wrong places or at the wrong time will get you noticed for all the wrong reasons. “Feathers make a big statement,” says Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti, designer of V by Eva and recent “Project Accessory” mentor on Lifetime TV. “You can look stunning -- or like a chicken.”

If you want to go feathery, keep it simple. Stick to just one feather-trimmed item -- a jacket, sweater or dress with feather cuffs or hems, but never at the hips -- and keep the rest of your look simple. Pull your hair up or back for a polished image.

“If everything’s busy, nothing gets noticed,” says Jeanbart-Lorenzotti. “And forget yellow feathers -- unless you want to become Big Bird.” Feathers also look best when worn in the evening, or afternoon at the earliest. “They’re like truffles for breakfast -- a little over-the-top.” As for donning a feather boa, one word of advice: Don’t.

Capes
To carry off a cape -- without looking like a reject from superhero school -- choose either a short one that ends above your fingertips or a longer one that’s shorter than knee-length. NET-A-PORTER editor Tracy Taylor advises avoiding oversized tops or skirts underneath, or “you may look like you’ve been swallowed by a blanket.” Instead, go with ’70s-inspired turtlenecks, leggings and minis, and riding or hiking boots to finish off the look. Resist the temptation to go all out with bell-bottoms, a cowboy hat or a fringed suede satchel. “The rest of the outfit should be urban,” says Taylor. “Think sophisticated, not costume-y.”

Drop-waist Dresses
Flapper-style frocks with deep V-necks create a vertical, slimming line -- unless you have an hourglass figure. “You need super-slim hips, or you can look top-heavy,” says Simon Kneen, Banana Republic creative director.

If you’re curvy, try a long pearl or tasseled necklace, or a low-rise pant to achieve a similar elongated look. Or go for a single Art Deco-inspired accessory, like a party sweater, bag, brooch or Mary Jane pump trimmed with fringe or bugle beads. Forget the flapper headband, says Kneen -- unless you’re trying to look like “Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu.

With any of these trends, says Jeanbart-Lorenzotti, “a little restraint can make you the life of the party -- not its punch line.”

Photo: Getty Images