Handbag, meet your long-lost sibling, footwear.

It's been a long time since shoes and bags have paired up in matching colours and materials. But this spring, the two are about to be re-acquainted, trotting out together harmoniously as a perfectly matched set.

Back in 1997, a little bag named the Fendi Baguette struck out on its own and became a sensation, a move that sparked the phenomenon of the “It” bag.

Soon other designer bags were doing solo shows with oversized logos, heavy hardware and a riotous mix of gewgaws. Suddenly every season, there seemed to be a new “It” bag. And designers and retailers quickly learned that this exciting, sexy category gave new meaning to the phrase “moneybags,” as it filled company coffers. Shoes were, well, left trailing behind.

Helping to widen the gap between shoes and bags was a weekly fashion “magazine” called Sex and the City, a show that celebrated maximalist fashion — clothes and accessories that revelled in a mix-it-any-which-way and pile-it-all-on exuberance. It sparked a way of dressing in which no one wanted anything that even remotely matched. It looked modern and showed confidence to play mixmaster.

Then came the backlash against “It” bags. Customers grew tired of the rapid turnover, the exorbitant prices and the scarily authentic-looking knock-offs. As fashion went looking for the next “It” thing, shoes stepped forward from the wings like an understudy waiting for a moment in the spotlight.

And what a performance it was. In the past year, shoes rose to outlandish heights, figuratively and literally.

The slowing economy expedited the trend away from all this exuberance. In just the past few months, the world has become a different place. And fashion has realized that a single outfit can only support so many outrageous accessories.

So, as we enter more frugal times, the pendulum is swinging back to looks that are polished, pulled together and co-ordinated for today's sober reality.