2009 saw 80s style statements make a comeback, in classy avatars. Sangeetha Devi Dundoo tracks the trend and finds what will hold good in 2010

2009 was a year when different style statements worked. The ethnic half sari of yore returned with a designer touch, international must-haves like leggings and treggings (trouser leggings, for the uninitiated) came in, got moulded to the Indian way of dressing, pleated dresses and tunics continued to rule and balloon dresses simply vanished.

The fashion industry felt the ripples of recession, in varying degrees. “Recession has had a stabilising effect on prices of designer garments. Prices were escalating without a corresponding increase in quality. Designers had to bring in quality control and prices had to become realistic. A dress priced upwards of Rs. 60 to 70,000 or a lakh doesn't make sense to me,” says designer Anand Kabra.

An enterprising few came out with ‘recession-proof clothing', enabling you to mix and match different pieces to make the garments more functional. Classic cuts and silhouettes that have passed the test of time ruled as buyers played safe.

The mark of the 80s, say city-based designers, was unmistakable both in Indian and western wear. “The 80s were synonymous with the rock, mish-mash look. 2009 saw elements of 80s style being picked up in classy, sophisticated form,” says designer Kedar Maddula.

Leggings, treggings and peg trousers: The calf-length legging of 2007/08 was still around, but the ankle-length ones leggings were predominant. Leggings doubled up as churidhar bottoms for ethnic wear (Deepika Padukone made the flouncy kurta and legging combination popular in Love Aaj Kal) or were teamed up with long tops on campuses. The black leggings apart, there were brighter ones in gold and silver shades. Then came the trouser leggings in denim and leather variations, lending themselves to be teamed up with fitted tops or shirt tunics. Designer Ishita Singh feels the disco bling of the 80s will emerge stronger and leggings will get a new look with prints and Scottish checks.

Bring back the trousers: In fact, the return of leggings and trousers of the 80s saw a simultaneous fading of skirts. And the trousers were as varied as slim pants to peg trousers and drape pants. Jumpsuits, another major highlight of the 80s, were back in the party circuit.

Sleeves and shoulders: The 80s were also about off-shoulder dresses. Kedar points to the growing popularity of off- shoulder dresses in the party circuit. He sees this trend trickling down to casual wear with long and short one-sleeved tops worn with jeans in 2010. In regular and off-shoulder dresses, the emphasis is on shoulders. “Dresses and shirts have fuller, puffed sleeves or exaggerated shoulders,” he says.

Pleats and frills: Formal shirts incorporated subtle pleats for the boardrooms. The pleats worked for knee-length dresses too. The pleats, used imaginatively, added to the garment detailing. Ishita feels the use of girly frills will stay in 2010.

Keep it structured: Dresses, tunics and tops got more structured weaning out the balloon dresses and skirts. Structured tunics in comfortable fits were worn with leggings. The silhouette also had room for the cocoon shapes that tapered at the bottom. “People got tired of the frumpy, voluminous look and preferred structured dresses,” says Anand Kabra.

Say it with colours: Kedar sees solid colours ruling the coming year as well as combination of offbeat colours like a mix of green, purple and orange. On campuses, seen young women carelessly matching black leggings with just about any colourful kurta and stole? That's the idea. A range of yellows, from mustard to citrus, royal blue and purples, and scarlet reds will hold sway.

Return of the half sari: Away from the dominance of 80s in western wear, the humble half sari returned with much aplomb. Priced anywhere from Rs. 10 to 50,000, they are popular picks for young women for bridal wear.

Fringe benefits: As for accessories, expect more beaded jewellery and large, chunky handbags, says Ishita.