If you live in the Northern hemisphere you’ve seen the last of the warm weather collections for 2009. Even as many of us fight through a heat wave, retail stores are about to stock up on Autumn and Winter merchandise. Absurd I know, but that’s the nature of the crazy retail cycle.

You know the drill. YLF closes every retail season with a “best and worst”. Raves today, rants tomorrow. I would also like to hear your closing thoughts on the last six months of fashion.

Here are my general raves:

  • Superb recessionary pricing structure: In all my retail years, I’ve never seen a fashion season as heavily discounted as this one. So many bargains!
  • Brilliant accessory selections: Accessories are the fasted and cheapest way to inject a bit of new into an existing wardrobe. Scarves, bracelets, belts, handbags, hose, headbands, watches, wallets, hats, pins, necklaces and earrings have been particularly strong this year. What a clever retail reaction to our tough economic climate.
  • Delicious 80’s revival of fashion: Designers have taken inspiration from “the decade of anti-fashion” and made it killer. I’m blown away with how creatively and successfully the best of 80’s styling has been re-interpreted.

More specifically:

  • Dresses and tunics: Stores have generally shown an excellent assortment if you were prepared to dry clean, hand wash and wear sleeveless. I’ve managed to do major frock and tunic shopping with clients this season, which is not the norm.
  • Leggings: We’ve seen the best selection of leggings ever: zippered, studded, ruched, embossed and stirrup styles in all sorts of fabrications, colours and leg lengths. The perfect accessory to dresses and tunics and a totally fabulous look.
  • Biker inspired styles: Tough edge fashion looks continue to trend and they are close to my heart. The huge assortment of both subtle and overt motorcycle detailing on all sorts of wardrobe items has been inspiring. Something for everyone.
  • Boyfriend items: I’m not drawn to boyfriend jeans, but enjoyed boyfriend-inspired items like cardis, jackets, watches and shirts. I got a nostalgic kick out of the shoulder pad trend in boyfriend blazers and hope to find a version that works for me.
  • Volume: Banded tops, sack dresses and cascading cardigans have been winning waist-less pieces. They are an excellent way to camouflage muffin top and add a fun, arty element to your look.
  • Silver grey: This has been the season for grey. As popular as black and white, I’ve enjoyed seeing grey function as another versatile neutral.
  • Sea of green, yellow and turquoise: It’s nice to see how this fresh Summer palette has been embraced by retailers and consumers.
  • White items: Warm weather is about adding white items to ensembles. With the fab selection of white tops, jeans, dresses, skirts, shoes and accessories, it’s been easy to incorporate an instantly fresh Summery look into your style.
  • Gladiators: The sandal of the season has been stellar, making it possible to refresh past season’s outfits with the addition of this single item. Even I managed to get a comfortable pair, which was a tall order.
  • Colourful non-patent handbags: Loads of magnificent handbags in matte fabrications and interesting textural tones have made a welcome change to the sea of patent we’ve seen over the last three years.
  • Deeper assortment of higher rise jeans: While there is still a shortage of fabulously fitting jeans with higher, girdling rises, stocks have improved. Let’s hope this trend gains momentum next season.

Bring on the raves, ladies. I’m excited to hear your impressions.

Valentino Bow Trim Patent Leather ToteiconValentino 'Petale' SatcheliconValentino Leather Rose Vertigo Tote

The house of Valentino came out with a collection of sculptured handbags that was second to none this season. Just for fun, here are my insanely unaffordable dream handbags that represent the very best of Spring and Summer 2009. Perhaps I’ll find them on eBay one day.