THE cycle of fashion may be fickle but it also loves a rerun, so while you're shopping at the sales for king-size bed sheets and half-price slow cookers keep an eye on the clothing racks, too. When it comes to 2013, the best trends have more to do with recycling and Renaissance than the Next Big Thing.
THE POWER OF PANTONE
Every September, Pantone delivers a report outlining the most influential colours for the year ahead.
Based on research they conduct during the spring-summer collections, analysts study shoes and bags looking for colour patterns much like scientists collide atoms to discover new particles. The Pantone philosophy accepts that the "Colour of the Year" on the runway will trickle down through all areas of design.
Last year's colour was Tangerine Tango – more specifically, Pantone 17-1463 – a particularly bright shade of orange that appeared on everything from swimsuits to small cars. In 2013, it was tipped by fashion bible, Women's Wear Daily to be Monaco Blue (Pantone 19-3964), a royal navy similar to the sash worn by Queen Elizabeth II in her coronation portrait.
But, Emerald green (Pantone 17-5641) pipped it at the post.
The executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute, Leatrice Eiseman, explains the choice: "Emerald, a vivid, verdant green, enhances our sense of well-being further by inspiring insight, as well as promoting balance and harmony."
In a time of persistent economic uncertainty, a pregnant princess and a people's president, the idea that consumers are seeking balance seems spot on. When it comes to your wardrobe, however, all you really need to know is that jade is the new black.
Political commentator Bill Maher likened Barack Obama to "Chocolate Jesus", but a large part of the President's popularity has less to do with being a modern-day deity and more to do with the way he rolls his shirtsleeves. Study photos from the recent campaign and you'll notice Obama is always wearing a suit. You never saw him in the politicians "working man" uniform of pressed jeans and checked, collared shirt. Obama won the race by dressing for the job he wanted to keep. He looked the Leader of the Free World at all times, and his interpretation of casual – no tie with a jacket; or tie, no jacket and rolled sleeves; has become a growing trend.
White-collar casual will see the return of sharp tailoring and classics such as dark and flannel grey suits, white tie on white shirt and yes, calm and balanced Monaco Blue. Key to this look is the Obama Roll: the President rolls his sleeves in even folds to midway up his forearm (never higher) to reveal the chronograph watch given to him as a gift by the Secret Service.
The look is also getting a more regal interpretation via the wardrobes of princes Harry and Charles, both of whom made it on to GQ magazine's best dressed for 2012. (Poor William didn't get a look in.) The young prince is bringing a distinctly American flavour to his father's love of traditional British tailoring, and as a result you'll also see lots of navy sports jackets (yes, with gold buttons) and camel and grey crew-neck cashmere jumpers over white-collared shirts in 2013.
DEATH OF DIGITAL
Blame it on Facebook's listing on the sharemarket, but fashion's love affair with all things tech is ending. From abstract solar systems to Atari characters, we've seen digital prints on everything.
Next year, computer-generated patterns will be replaced with overblown tropical flowers, lush palm trees, and vintage-inspired florals. Consumers are shrugging off the nesting instinct that resulted from the September 11, 2001 attacks and the 2008-09 global financial crisis, and are beginning to embrace adventure and travel once more.
"After several seasons of structure and sports-influenced shapes we're moving into a more opulent period with a very rich feel . . . metallics, brocades, embellishments and direct references – tribal, African," the fashion director of the(sydney)magazine, Penny McCarthy, says.
Designers such as Mary Katrantzou and Isabel Marant, as well as locals Lisa Ho and Ksubi, put paradise prints into suits, sculptured dresses and sweeping gowns. No more neon, space-inspired mullet skirts or colour-blocked suits, a la Pac-Man, in 2013.
THE JAZZ AGE (AGAIN)
Repeat after me: No more Drapers. Buy the Mad Men box set, but purge the look from your wardrobe immediately. The next era to be reheated is the Roaring '20s.
This doesn't mean you need to dress as an extra from Baz Luhrmann's Great Gatsby: the influences are much more subtle than a feather boa and ear-length bob.
Part of the allure of this moment in fashion is the women for whom it was made – Louise Brooks, Jordan Baker and Zelda Fitzgerald. As muses they're eternally fascinating, and it's because of them that this era is reinterpreted over and over again.
There are new versions of the flapper dress, vintage sports-inspired linen, the kimono-cut coat, and masculine suiting. Fashion from the 1920s was heavily influenced by all things exotic, and the hairpieces were derived from the Orient. This style of hair ornament (goodbye fascinators) will be everywhere, as will flapperesque rope jewellery with long strands of crystals and pearls in many mainstream ranges.
FIRST LADIES OF THRIFT
Not since Princess Diana and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy has there been two globally loved women sitting in positions of influence on either side of the superpower pond. The fashion choices of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and the American first lady, Michelle Obama, are not only bolstering the retail economy, they're also dictating values when it comes to clothes and shopping.
Kate and Michelle are both unlikely fashion plates – athletic, conservative – which is a large part of their appeal. The women are strong supporters of local designers – Kate favours Reiss, L. K. Bennett and Alexander McQueen, while Michelle is loyal to Michael Kors, J. Crew, and Jason Wu. It's this patriotic commitment, coupled with the love of a bargain, that has propelled them on to fashion's most-wanted list. The Sun newspaper reported that Kate has brought more than £928 million ($1.4 billion) into the British economy. Harvard Business Review suggests that a single public appearance by the Americans' first lady has an average of $US14 million ($13.5 million) in retail value.
Despite these huge numbers, much of the women's popularity lies in their thriftiness and a preparedness to shop both the high and low ends of the market. Michelle wears Target with Lanvin and Kate wears Reiss with Anya Hindmarch – making their style genuinely accessible to the everywoman.
Both women have also made a conscious choice to rewear many items. This simple choice has had a significant impact on making women feel not only better about having less, but also fashionable for being thrifty. Watch the red carpet – which celebrity will be the first to recycle an Oscar gown?
Correction: The Pantone colour of the year for 2013 was incorrectly said to be Monaco Blue. It is, in fact, Emerald.