For anybody reading this while on holiday, and those colour-loving women who are "boho" at heart, some advice: enjoy the current sunshine state of fashion while you still can. The autumn/winter deliveries being fast-tracked into boutiques and department stores this week threaten to blot out all memory of happy summer pastels, exotic tribal prints and wafting fabrics. Before you even start getting your head around new season shapes, brace yourself for a palette that is shockingly minimal.
From next month, high fashion will be dominated by black, inky blue, khaki and most importantly, camel. Just before I jetted off on holiday last week I bought a pair of high-waisted, 1970s-inspired flared trousers in this very shade. Did I pack them in my suitcase? Absolutely not. Knowing full well that from September onwards I'd be wearing a uniform of felty, tailored separates, boxy jackets and wilt-worthy outerwear, mostly in camel, or risk facing ridicule from my industry peers, I was determined to have one final fling with riotous colour.
For seven days I have revelled in being a kaftan-loving, gold-sandal-wearing vacationista. My holiday wardrobe was themed on Joan Collins in her Dynasty era, and the effortlessly groovy party girl Jade Jagger, on the holiday isle of Ibiza. I have never felt quite so rebellious as when wearing candy pink and luminous turquoise, posing around the swimming pool wearing heaps of jewellery and Havaianas flip-flops in a shade of cheery canary yellow.
And it's not like I had to search far to get the right sort of gear: this summer, even trendy boutiques succumbed to the sort of sequinned tops and razzle-dazzle swimwear normally confined to resort-only shops. I even left behind jeans and bought a pair of baggy embroidered combats by the urban label Maharishi, knowing that all new-season trousers must fit like a second skin. I wore my combats with a T-shirt (bliss!) and featherweight viscose/Lycra pistachio-coloured poncho: both utterly but gloriously last season.
Deciding whether to throw on this or my favourite tasselled suede jacket became a nightly luxury, made all the more precious by knowing that in a week or so everything in my suitcase would be so cruelly cast aside for another year, at least. On the journey home, as I leafed through the vast September issues of fashion magazines, I happened to catch sight of my expanded "holiday" waistline and swollen feet, clad in comfy gladiator flats.
I was reminded of Bette Davis's words on growing older. To paraphrase this wise old owl, autumn/winter 2010/2011 "ain't no place for sissies". Prepare for patent, pointy, painful winklepickers, nipped-in waistlines that feel a size too small and flesh-wilting fabrics such as leather. And don't tut tut. There's little choice in the matter. For the first time in ages fashion is dictatorial. Although the finger is being pointed at Phoebe Philo, the British neat freak in charge of the influential French fashion label Celine, for making it thus with her defiantly clean-cut collections, she is not the only designer intent on making a smooth transition from one fashion season to the next.
It's a case of all change. In fact the sole item that bridges the present chasm is the military jacket. This has been around all summer but is still going to be important. I would have taken one away with me but they had all sold out. I'm happy to see most designers from Christopher Bailey to Christophe Decarnin - and high-street stores too - have done a version for autumn/winter, making brass buttons the latest crucial accessory.
Imagine my thrill when I discovered an army surplus stall selling vintage military buttons at a market during my trip. Now all I need to do is find a little number from Primark to create a catwalk lookalike. Military jackets not only go with everything you already own: they look radically chic teamed with the key item of the upcoming season, the longer-length 1950s-style "lady" skirt, championed by Miuccia Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and Marc Jacobs (check out the latest Louis Vuitton campaign). I'm almost ready to embrace all things womanly. Who wouldn't want to look like an Irving Penn still? But that's not to say I'm not going to miss a bit of happy colour and, dare I say, comfort? Like I said. Enjoy chic summer while you can.