Hot Stuff! The trends of 2012

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Dancing to a South Korean pop song while pretending to be a horse was one of the more unusual, or rather, inexplicable hits of the past 12 months. Matthew Bell looks back over the year's crazes – from Gangnam Style to onesies, meggings, and filthy shades of grey...


So we know about leggings: they're what women wear to jog. Then came treggings (trouser leggings), and jeggings, yes – they're like jeans. But then Justin Bieber tried on a pair, and the megging was born. Uniqlo is reported to be making them, but I met with blank looks in my local branch. "Why not try the women's section, uh?" said the French assistant with a shrug. I predict this trend won't catch on, but what do I know?

Crimbo jumpers

A blizzard of festive knitwear descended on the high street this winter, in time for the office party. Harry Styles and Myleene Klass wore them, and a poll found 35 per cent of adults find them sexy. Yes, even the ones with appliqué robins. But finding a truly awful one proves hard. M&S: too tasteful. H&M: too hip. I plump for the giant snowflake. It's warm, and fits, but would I wear it out? Not a chance.


Raw fish marinated in lime juice became the food fad of the year. Originally from Peru, the simple but delicious method of curing fish in citric acid (the acid denatures the protein just like cooking) spread across London. Three Peruvian restaurants sprung up, one called simply Ceviche. Any fish will do, but halibut is best: simply soak a prepared fillet in plenty of lime juice for an hour. Delicious!

Posh junk

Hot dogs and champagne – could anything be nicer? That's the formula for Bubbledogs, the London restaurant that's busy every day. Dozens of restaurants are taking junk food upmarket. Burger and Lobster, whose menu is worthy of Fawlty Towers's Gourmet Night: burger, lobster or burger and lobster. This Christmas dog has bacon, Brussels, Paxo and cranberry. It's so posh, at £7.50, it makes the £6 glass of champagne seem cheap.

Low fizz

Moscato was the surprise drinks craze of the year. Sweet, lightly sparkling and only 5.5% alcohol, it's not an obvious rapper's choice, but Kanye West mentioned it in a song, and now it's as cool as Cristal. It's originally from Italy, but now wine-makers round the world are cashing in, says Lucy Shaw from Drinks Business magazine. "The best examples show notes of orange blossom, peach and honeysuckle", she says. Cheers!

Ear piece

Walkmans are back in fashion, along with all things 80s. But the forward-looking hipster wears headphones by Beats by Dr Dre, preferably in neon green. The US rapper launched them in 2008, but they only properly took off this summer, with the label even giving a party during the London Olympics. The best ones are wire-free, meaning you can look like Charlie Brown without getting tangled up in cables.

Pillock red

Once they said "estate agent", now red trousers are also worn by Shoreditch wallies. Both sets have a brazen smugness. The hilarious blog, lookatmyf***ingredtrousers, snaps "terracotta warriors" in public. Cycling across London in a pair, I discover why RTs appeal to big egos – everyone looks. The key is to have skin thick enough not to notice that, behind the eyes, they're thinking "what a pillock".

Big babies

Winston Churchill got most things right, but the romper suit? Yes, our greatest Prime Minister was an early adopter of the onesie, which he called a "siren-suit". It took a few decades to catch on, but suddenly fashion-conscious people like Brad Pitt and Kate Moss are wearing Babygros in public. Snow and Rock say once you try theirs it's hard to take off. It's true: it's like getting dressed but still being in bed. Snug.

Gangnam Style

Like most trends – inexplicable. A South Korean pop song posted in July has become the first YouTube video to notch up one billion views. Various parodies, notably by some Eton schoolboys and the British forces in Afghanistan, helped push Psy's catchy dance tune to the number one spot. The amazing thing is that anyone could watch the 4:13 minute clip to the end.

Filthy shades

To call it a literary sensation is probably a bit kind, but Fifty Shades of Grey was a publishing one. In just a few weeks, more than 5.3 million copies sold, and who knows what it's done for sales of whips and handcuffs? Barbara Taylor Bradford called the sex scenes "boring", while others complained it took far too long to get to them. Still, the good news is the fifty strains of parody it spawned.

Hair today

Short back and sides, long on top. That was the year's look for men, inspired by 1930s TV dramas like Boardwalk Empire. Actually, it was around in 2011, and probably will be next year: men's fashion takes a long time to evolve, says Dominic at London salon Cobella. He gives me a "Michael Pitt", or "Joey Essex", depending on who you ask. He's kind enough not to mention my hairline, receding faster than the Maginot line.

Renault Twizy

Is it a car? Or is it a golf buggy? More to the point, where are the windows? Renault's foray into the urban electric market is brave and bonkers. The doors flip up like gull-wings, and your passenger sits behind you, ideally cross-legged. Still, with a starting price of £6,690, it's the cheapest head-turner you can buy. Who cares if there aren't any windows – it makes waving for the camera-phones easy.

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