When it comes to fashion, every year the biggest question is: what looks will translate from the catwalk to the streets? M's fashion director, Katie Trotter, saves you from social faux pas (no cowgirl costumes) with 10 trends to base your 2009 wardrobe on.
In the new climate of sobriety, designers are collectively sending out a positive message for spring/summer 2009, striving to offer us something that feels genuinely new and, more importantly for now, something that is useful. It is true that in times of economic strife, people like to hold on to something (dare I say it?) frivolous. Fashion should be fun and a form of escapism, and with a stream of fantastical collections salted in sequins and gilded decoration coming our way, fun is what we shall have.
There is no doubt the fashion industry will survive the crisis. Designers will go on designing: that's what they do. But the expertise has to feed through on all levels now and an awareness of the global marketplace will separate the men from the boys. So, here are 10 trends to watch this year and tips on how to interpret them: Butterfly motifs: Every season has an emblem. Last year it was the star, and this season brings us the butterfly. Some suggest the motif is as a symbol of rejuvenation, and in times like these this may well ring true.
Top tip: Avoid using it in a kitsch sense. If you decide to dabble with butterflies ensure they remain understated, feminine and sophisticated. Fringing: Fashion is set to take on a homespun appeal this year, epitomised by anything with a fringe. Top tip: Consider your body type carefully. A pair of perfect pins will look magnificent in a fringed minidress, but anything less and you run into cowgirl costume territory. Remember the golden rule: less is more.
Sheer fabrics: By far the most prominent trend for 2009 will be the use of delicate, translucent fabrics. The trend is already gaining momentum so you should have plenty of options at mass-market retailers in the coming months. Top tip: Stick to quality fabrics in a classic colour palette. Pieces should have enough room to allow for layering in order to take them from spring into autumn.
Pastels: 2009 looks to be a year set in sherbet, a refreshing change from last season's sea of black. Dusky pinks, caramels and powder blues painted the runways in fabrics from chiffon to wool. Top tip: Offset with strong statement accessories to give your look an anchor. Futuristic: Developed by a breed of young designers who are carving a niche for the unexplored within the fashion industry, these are the innovations that push boundaries. Expect to see further development of hi-tech fabrics and bold silhouettes.
Top tip: Stick to one key piece, like the new sculptural round shoulder tops and dresses seen at Dolce & Gabbana. Make sure to pair with the simplest of accessories: no one wants to be mistaken for a Star Trek extra. Fairy tale romance: With flouncing ruffles and delicate detailing, the ultimate romance gown is undeniably making an appearance this year. Complete with sweeping trains and puffed sleeves, look out for some of the most ethereal designs seen in many seasons.
Top tip: Everyone loves to dress up, and in such purse-tightening times it's a bit of fun to indulge for special occasions. The jumpsuit: The original utilitarian one-piece has been lurking in the background for a while and is showing no sign of going anywhere. The trend ties in with the season's key themes: sporty (zipped ankles, oversized pockets) and glam hippy (billowing silks and colourful prints). Derek Lam even renamed his take on the trend the "trousergown".
Top tip: This is a statement piece as it is, so do not add unnecessary detailing. Sharp tailoring: The abundance of sharply tailored suits underlines the current demand for timeless, classic buys. Tailoring will focus on the Eighties with sharp, clean lines in high-shine fabrics, and with emphasis on the high-waisted trouser. Top tip: Try bright colours in high-shine fabrics to keep your look vibrant and upbeat.
Jewel-encrusted: Precious stones, glass and crystals are set to adorn our wardrobes. Not strictly limited to evening gowns, the elegant version of bling will be seen on jackets, skirts and accessories. Top tip: Beware of how this translates to the mass market. Quality is paramount. Metallics: Designers experimented with shiny fabrics and light-reflecting surfaces for 2009. From delicate shimmer to full-on sequins, no fabric or garment will be spared this season.
Top tip: Avoid the glitzy over-the-top kind of sparkle and stick to gilded, muted tones.