2010 had a shaky start in fashion. Less than six weeks into the year the mind-bogglingly talented Alexander McQueen died on the first day of New York Fashion Week. Already shaken, there also seemed to be a bit of recession-related confusion. It was over, right? That uncertainty is especially present in the divide between the much-hyped return of investment pieces and the tsunami of high-end designers collaborating with low-end retailers.

Fashion has never been so accessible. You no longer have to be an Olsen or a Wintour to get the best seat in the house at the Prada presentation; all you have to do is know how to stream a video. To get your hands on a Mulberry bag or a Lanvin dress all you had to do was know when to get in line at H&M or Target (Tarjay?). Fashion editors get in arguments on twitter and openly complain about certain 13-year-old bloggers in the front row. It was an outrage in January and by December it’s the norm. So before I go off on another tangent and begin to ponder the To Be’s or Not To Be’s of handbags, lets take a quick at some of our favourite trends of 2010.

MAD MEN: This show hit a new level of awesome in 2010. Maybe I’m just saying this because I watched the entire series in about a month and am currently experiencing Don Draper withdrawals, which are comparable to heroin. But aside from turning my social life into a lack thereof, the white-gloved aesthetic of the show has also been translated onto the runway. Louis Vuitton and Prada went seriously A-line, with behives, catty sunglasses and the works. Costume designer Janie Bryant even launched her own line of boleros and pillbox hats on QVC.

WEDGES: Did everyone seem to be a little taller this year? No, it wasn’t a mysterious bout of puberty – it was the wedge. Great for propelling the legs-for-miles illusion, 2010 felt like the year in which chunky platforms dominated the shoe racks, be it strapped sandals in the spring or fat buckled boots for the fall.

Faux Fur: The high-pitched buzz of screeching PETA activists in the background at fashion week has accumulated into a strong voice that even Karl Lagerfeld could no longer ignore. Faux fur vests, collars, hats and coats made 2010 resemble somewhat of a Cruella De Vil-ian nightmare. For Mr. Lagerfeld, it was a call to awareness of climate change with a Fall 2010 collection consisting of the usual supermodels dressed head-to-toe in some of the priciest Chewbacca ensembles ever to tread the runway.

Leather: While real fur is slowly drifting into taboo-territory, there’s still no shortage of animal hides on the runway. Exhibit A: leather. Part of the new minimalism that has sprung out of 2010, leather has broken free of its shackles of being limited jackets and is making appearances as dresses, skirts and pants. Sorry PETA.

Peek-a-booties: Can someone PLEASE explain to me the meaning of having boots with exposed toes? Sure, it’s rather chic to have gleaming red toenails peeping out from vampy black boots, but the purpose of boots is to offer protection from the elements. Peep-toe boots get a big FAIL for convenience, but even my extreme bias won’t change the fact that these boots were everywhere this year.

Clogs: One of the unlikelier repetitions of the seventies (and then again the nineties) this year were clogs, which seemed to – wait for it –clog the runways. Clomping along at Chanel, Celine and Louis Vuitton, clogs were near ubiquitous in the summer, with Jeffrey Campbell and Hasbeens following their wooden, clunky suit.

Designer collaborations: It’s been a good year for those of us who don’t live in the proximity of a Century 21. 2010 was the year of high-end fashion designers trickling down into the mass market. The result: ladies lining up at 5 a.m. with wild hopes of getting their manicured figures onto a ruffled Lanvin for H&M mini dress. This year, Pierre Hardy designed wedges and boots for The Gap, Rad Hourani teamed up with Aldo, Target hooked up with Mulberry and there are even rumours that Karl Lagerfeld will whip something up for Macy’s.

The Maxi-dress: Another great one that transcends the line between fall and spring. The Maxi-dress played a crucial role in shifting summer style from scanty short-shorts (not that there’s a shortage of those) to something longer and more elegant. If the abundance of maxi-skirts in SATC2 didn’t convince you, point your head in the direction of Spring collections from Jil Sander and Alberta Ferretti to convince you that the maxi-dress will make even bigger waves in 2011.

Capes: Sleeves seemed to disappear in the fall of 2010. Instead, the romantic quality of a flowing cape trumped the convenience of arm mobility. 

Underwear as outerwear: And the headscratcher of 2010 goes to: the underwear as outerwear trend that really didn’t make it much past a squeal of hype in the early months of the year. Propelled by Marc Jacobs’s admirable attempt to validate blouses tucked into nylons, bustiers and corsets are indeed popping up. Still it will take another year to properly prophesize whether we’ll be wearing our panties over pants or if the trend will retire with a whimper into fashion limbo.

~ Elli Stuhler