I have spent the weekend going through the latest fashion magazines (tough work, but someone's gotta do it), so thought I'd do a round-up of the spring trends for 2011.
This year, for once, we over-40s babes are pretty well served. Some years, the main trend is a length (usually too short by half) or a shape, but this year, the trends are mainly to do with colour, fabric and pattern, which can easily be used by anyone to give their basic wardrobe a lift. The bright colours, silky fabrics and bold patterns are hugely reminiscent of the 1980s, while hair, at times, looks like something out of a Sonia Rykiel ad circa 1973, as shot by Guy Bourdin.
As ever, I would advocate trying any new trend in an accessory first, and only shelling out for a main garment once you're sure of it - no point in wasting your money.
1 Stripes - major trend
Stripes this year are big and bold. Lots of black & white and navy & white, in almost op-art patterns were seen on the runways. Have no fear that horizontal stripes will make you look fatter - psychologists have discovered that they don't. This trend can easily be picked up with a matelot t-shirt, a striped shirt or a jersey sundress, or even a white jacket with black piping, or vice versa. Think crisp, clean and nautical.
2 White - minor trend
All-white outfits were seen everywhere, in all kinds of shades, and in all kinds of fabrics.
3 Acid brights - major trend
The KEY trend for 2011. Really, I haven't seen such bright colours, including neon at Christopher Kane (right), on the runways since the 1980s - coincidentally, probably around the time half the current designers were actually BORN. No wonder they find them attractive. Still, the lime greens, neon oranges, bright magentas and scarlets will give a lift to a basic black, navy or beige wardrobe - all you need is a bag, belt or scarf and then you can chuck it at the end of the season. Tip: the fabric should be glossy and silky, or a lace, not a cotton jersey etc.
4 Blue - minor trend
Blue is a much-used colour this season - the more azure-sky and turquoise sea, the better.
5 Colour blocking - major trend
Colour blocking means wearing one (bright) colour with another. Obviously, this isn't one for shrinking violet personalities, but if you're happy mixing orange with red and pink, or lime with peacock blue and purple, then go ahead. A single colour-blocked jacket or jolly bag that looks like a giant sweet will get you through the season easily. If in doubt, wear one bright colour with black.
6 Nude - major trend
This colour trend is one that all over-40s babes should snap up while the going's good. The nude this year is transparent, and nothing is more useful for bingo wings than a lovely nude chiffon shirt, blouse or body worn over or under a dress or vest. Lace is also a big nude theme. I'll be getting all of these this year, plus trotting out my existing nude silk blouses etc.
7 Denim - minor trend
Denim is everywhere this year, including 70s-style bleached denim but the most on-trend is very seriously saturated-dyed denim. If you want to give your wardrobe a boost, chuck your faded denims in the wash with a packet of blue dye - this strong look is very now. Flattering on most of us, and unbelievably useful. The catwalks showed denim-on-denim, which most of us should avoid - stick to one piece at a time.
8 Craft - minor trend
Raffia, fringing, knotting, macrame etc. Go carefully on this or you'll look like a superannuated old hippie (on the other hand, that might be right up your street). A macrame shoulderbag might be fun for summer, though... I avoid fringes, as they go tatty too quickly.
9 The shirt - minor trend
This year, the shirt is a classic masculine cut with a collar but no revers, pretty tight to the body, in a good fabric such as silk. I have old ones that will do perfectly well - it's the way you wear them that's key. This year, it would be on trend to knot a well-cut shirt over a dress rather than wearing the same dress with a cardi or shrug.
10 Botanic prints - major trend
And animals and fruit too, as photo-realistic as possible, and HUGE. The last time I saw prints this gaudy was in the early 90s, and I must admit I love them to bits (strangely, this winter I also made a bed quilt from a collection of botanic floral cottons I had in from the early 90s, just to cheer up winter). This trend was particularly used at Dolce and Gabbana, and Jil Sander, but it's everywhere, in dresses, skirts, shirt - you name it. This is a little something pretty for us all to enjoy, so I would say wear it while it lasts.
11 Pleats - major trend
Masses of pleats were seen on the catwalks, mainly sunray. Got to be careful here, as they can add pounds, especially if they drop from the waist - the key is to find a very soft and flowing fabric such as viscose chiffon and avoid more tailored prints, unless you're very thin.
12 Maxis - minor trend
Pleats marry well with another strong trend this year - the maxi dress. As well as halter-neck (no good for big boobs) and sleeveless, maxis were even seen with sleeves this year - get 'em while you can.
13 Midis - major trend
Oh God no, please. There is only one way to wear this universally deadly length, and that's in a soft, full, flowing skirt with the weight at the hem, and a tight-fitting top, as seen here at Chloe (not how this outfit encompasses several trends: sleek hair, nude top, pleats, mid, ballet flats...). Avoid straight midis like the plague - think ballerina, not Bonnie & Clyde.
14 Safari - minor trend
Yves St Laurent was clearly being channelled by several designers, especially Ralph Lauren, so if you like the beige, cream, khaki, safari-jacket look, it's having one of its periodic visitations. It's not my cup of tea, as I'm too titty.
15 Minimal chic - major trend
If the bright, pretty, colourful, floral look isn't you, then several designers, including Ralph Lauren and Jil Sander came to the rescue with very pared-down, Audrey-Hepburn-type clothes in quiet colours like cream, beige and rust. This more minimalist look works well with wooden or gold jewellery and a tan, and gives a sophisticated feel.
16 Lace - major trend
Lace and the whole retro, Edwardian, pretty look is massive for this spring. Fine by me, as I have a lot of this stuff. Wear one item with everything else trim, neat and plain, or the effect will be too young and toilet-dolly for words. A nice embroidered mesh cardi, broderie anglaise shirt or white guipure sheath picks up the look to perfection.
Trends to avoid
Leather pants, biker chic (unless you're tall, thin and flat-chested), appliqué, animal prints such as lizard, crocodile and giraffe all worn together, tailored trousers with a high waist and pleating on the hips (really, please don't add pounds where you don't need them), cropped capri-length trousers that foreshorten the leg, ballet flats (too flat for most of us), ridiculous stack 4" platforms (please, please, please, shoe designers, can we have a return to something in between these two immoderate styles?, ALL spring beauty trends - pale blue nail varnish, matt magenta lips, invisible eyebrows, Biba-style dark, dark eyes, frizzed-out Crystal Tips hair...Hopeless, really.