Trends emerging from MAGIC and beyond have conservative tone

If your grandmother is alive and kicking, she might just be influencing fashion. There’s a desire among older generations to stay as relevant as possible for as long as possible. And, it’s hard to do that while wearing a muumuu.

According to David Wolfe, creative director for global trend forecasting company The Doneger Group, fashion will abandon the term "age appropriate" to embrace "ageless appropriate" dressing. Wolfe asserted so during his Women’s Spring/Summer 2012 Big Picture seminar at MAGIC at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday.

With influential public figures such as Martha Stewart and Vogue creative director Grace Coddington both hitting 70, he says, the fashion industry will have to adapt to this age group. Spring and summer trends for ’12 already have shown a shift into looks that can be worn across the generational board.

It starts with conservative dressing. "There’s a new attitude," Wolfe says. "Ladylike looks are replacing the sex kittens."

Women will show less skin next spring and the social suit will help them achieve that. It’s borrowed from ladies who lunch. Chanel’s version, for which Jackie Kennedy had a penchant in the ’60s, is arguably the most popular.

This trend marks another big change. Stylists have kept their distance from anything "matchy matchy" and instead leaned toward pairing the unexpected for several seasons over.

From loud clashing prints to two opposing themes (feminine and biker babe) to blending luxury designers with thrift store duds — the idea is a distinct betrayal of predictable pairings. The social suit breaks that streak with two pieces intended to be worn together.

As for returning trends, lace and drapey dresses aren’t going anywhere. The former appears more domestic than we’ve seen it in recent seasons with an almost doily look. The draping takes a more dramatic turn. The dips are deeper, with more of a sweep.

Nautical proves yet again it has no plans of leaving. The blue and white stripes take a thin and thick look in the form of boat neck tops, patio dresses, tanks and more. Other prints, such as florals and botanicals, keep coming back, too. This time they’re bigger, sometimes so large that the print doesn’t repeat itself once throughout the garment.

Bright, bold colors in shades of green, pink, blue and yellow give the understated trends so dominant for this season a little more punch.

As friendly as each of the aforementioned looks are to women well past retirement age, a few strictly for the hard bodies will emerge, too. Expect to see denim shorts so short the pocket lining is exposed and transparent fabrics that leave little to the imagination. These will take many forms from sheer summer dresses to super lightweight knits.

"The idea of the spring sweater is becoming more and more important," Wolfe says.

Fit and flare pants will be the dark horse of the season, according to Wolfe. For the even more progressive-minded, the tailored slack will have appeal. The "great white shirt" and tailored jackets will also surface. Where the jackets are concerned, the look has nothing to do with the boyfriend jackets still lingering. The fit is close to the body, not intentionally oversized.

But back to the looks the mature woman can appreciate. Tunics and shift dresses, two pieces with no waist, are on the horizon. Eat big meals with no worries or belt them for more shape.

Missoni knits also make a comeback. The iconic zigzag look will be nostalgic for older generations and a fresh option of new "color possibilities" for younger ones, as Wolfe put it.

With such conservative garment trends, the accessories have to step it up. Don’t be surprised if the turban catches on. Belts will get a little more decorated. Jewelry is big and still making a statement.

Shoes range from the flat sandals that saw a boom this season to flat oxfords, but wedges should be the big must-have. Clunky platforms and sky-high heels should make a complete exit very soon as sensibility makes its presence more known.

As for handbags, the "it" bag is a goner. Bells and whistles just don’t do it anymore. Something with staying power has more value. The recession could very well be responsible for that attitude.

Look for ladylike status bags that can be worn day and night, casual and dressy. Versatility is key.

It’s a new mindset and a new look, but that’s a good thing.

"We’re on the cusp of a major set of changes," Wolfe says. "This is the most exciting time in fashion since the ’60s."

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