There is a yin and a yang to fashion -- a balance that becomes predictable after successive seasons. Minimalism one year begets extravagance the next. Basic black one fall will burst into a kaleidoscope of colors the following spring.
So it is no surprise then that this fall -- one year after the omnipresence of all things ladylike -- that menswear has crept back into the fashion landscape.
And it makes sense that a spring of all things boho and peasant has evolved into a fall of structure and luxury.
"Women want to have options," says Gregg Andrews, a fashion director at Nordstrom. "And it is very much a season of opposites attract and juxtaposition."
As proof, consider these musings by fashion insiders:
From Marina Kievsky, design director for Cache, a chain of mall stores that specializes in luxe: "The theme of this season, it's very folkloric and Bohemian in feeling."
And from Nicole Fischelis, vice president and fashion director at Macy's stores: "This fall, we will see a return to feminized menswear, which means beautiful suiting, impeccable tailoring, lots of tweed, lots of glen plaid, pinstripes with feminine blouses and interesting underpinnings."
Contradictory? On the contrary, say those in the know.
This is the season of fitted velvet blazers paired with taffeta circle skirts. Dainty camisoles and glen plaid trousers. It's Victorian and cowboy. Leather and lace. Boy meets girl -- and falls in love.
Which is lucky for us. In a season of mix-and-match and blended trends, that just means there's something out there for everyone to wear.
Here's what you'll have to choose from this fall.
"There's a lot of talk about the return of the suit," says Andrews, of Nordstrom.
But make no mistake, ladies. This is not some boxy power suit handed down from the men's department.
"It's very sculpted to the body. It's very shapely," Andrews says. "It's very reminiscent of suits from the '30s and '40s."
Fall's feminine suit has a fitted jacket, often with a flounce -- "to accentuate a small waistline," Andrews says. It's paired with a slim pencil skirt or a fuller skirt, much like those that were popular this spring and summer.
Trousers also will dominate store racks this season, in many different shapes and styles. The trendiest is the menswear-inspired trouser, with pinstripe-detail or in a smart glen plaid. Some have pleating; others have cuffs or are cropped. Some are wide-leg; others, slim.
"The most fashion-forward pant is extremely, extremely narrow -- it can be almost as narrow as leggings," Andrews says. "We're even seeing pants that have an equestrian feel, that resemble jodhpurs or britches."
Opulence and romance
Last year's luxury bent has risen to a whole new level this season. This fall, what was rich is now even richer. What was lush is now ultra-luxe.
"Lots and lots of opulence," says Fischelis, of Macy's. "From jackets to dresses to even the skirt we've seen all summer."
Instead of cottony or gauzy lightweight materials, fall's full skirt will be done in rich velvet, Fischelis says. Or taffeta, says Andrews.
"We're seeing the influence of shines and brocades and opulent materials mixed in for day," Fischelis says. "It's sort of the modern opulence."
Velvet will be one of this fall's signature materials. You'll see it on skirts, blazers, dresses, collars, and trims.
The key to wearing such a traditionally dressy fabric in the daytime, experts say, is to pair your velvet item with something more casual or understated -- such as a flimsy camisole or a pair of jeans.
Fur, both real and faux, will continue to be big. Especially on coats, and sweaters, hoods and trim. On the runway, Dolce & Gabbana even showed a pair of denim capri pants cuffed in fur.
Ethnic looks / classic looks
"There's two directions this season," says Abigale Greenberg Levinson, fashion market editor for Elle magazine. "Either the very classic, clean, neat style or it's the very embellished, over-the-top kind of ethnic thing -- Russian, Eastern European. What's nice about it is that you can incorporate what you have in the wardrobe and update what you have. ... (And) with the ethnic things, it can be a really great wardrobe builder."
As jeans have worked their way from yardwork gear to fashion staple, they've become more decorative and unusual. This fall, jeans will dress up even more than ever.
"The denim we are doing is very modern, embellished, embroidered. Lots of rich washes," says Kievsky, of Cache, which only recently got into the jeans market, because of the latest trend toward luxury. "It's great because all this embellishment is so rich and expensive- and luxe-looking."
Sweaters, shrugs and shawls of all kinds will be popular again this fall -- things women can wrap themselves in and be cozy.
"Large, chunky knits, cables; it might even look as if a stitch was dropped. Things that look as though they're crocheted," says Andrews. "There's a huge interest in things that have a hand-finished look to them, an artisan touch, things that are special and unique."
Trends for Fall
Opulence, luxury, baroque: Velvets, brocades, matelasse, tapestry textures, herringbones, satins, furs
Feminized menswear: Trousers, suits
Victorian / Edwardian tops: Lace, ruffles
Ethnic looks: Tunics, Russian, Eastern European
Full skirts / pencil skirts
Boots: Round-toe, flat and lace-up