Left to right: Versace, Bottega Veneta and Prada AW17 at Milan fashion week (Photo:celebrity dresses)

In the spirit of nostalgia for the good old days before politics went berserk and dominated everything, today I bring you the Milan catwalks as good old-fashioned light relief. With all due respect to the pussy hats at Missoni, the headscarves at Max Mara and Alberta Ferretti, and the feminist slogans at Versace, we are now three quarters of the way through the month of fashion shows, and it seems to me high time we paid attention to what we are actually going to wear next season.

This is what next season looks like: it is a skirt or a dress that hugs the waist and is at its most fitted (while not skintight) from waist to hipbone, then swishes about a bit – possibly with a split, or a few pleats, or an asymmetric handkerchief hem –ending somewhere between the bottom of the knee and the ankle. Or it can be wide trousers, but cut so that they have the same feminine shape, with a high, fitted waist and a loose leg. The shoe probably has a bit of a heel, but it’s definitely a walkable height. It is not so high as to make the shoe the focal point of your look, but not so low as to make a shouty statement about flats, either.

The top half is aiming for an elegant, elongated torso. So, instead of building out the shoulders or creating a V-shape to emphasise the contrast between shoulder and waist, you choose a high neck and natural shoulders for a straighter line. You can leave the waistline soft and natural, with a sweater or blouse that hangs loose, or you can wear a wide belt, but the overall shape is lean and fluid, not a cinched hourglass. Flourishes come at the edges, so the cuffs might be fancy, or there could be a frill at the neckline, or a huge statement earring. Or a pointed handkerchief hem, or a glimpse of a petticoat underlayer.

Does this sound frustratingly vague? I mean, I can see it would be a uselessly unspecific description if, say, I was a police witness urgently trying to describe a suspect. But once you get your eye in, this new shape is quite distinctive. The soft power silhouette makes its point from a distance. And the built-in flex is useful when it comes to actually wearing the look, because it means you can adapt it to the way you want to dress. You can create this shape with a sleeveless tank top and wide trousers, or with a fitted jacket and a loose pencil skirt.

This new look has been on the catwalk all through New York and London shows, but it came into focus in the courtyard of the Palazzo del Senato last week, at the Max Mara show. All the women were dressed head to toe in a single colour – the house camel, or a gorgeous sticky toffee, or sealing-wax red – which emphasised how the silhouette was seductively comfy-looking but sexy at the same time. Culottes, wide velvet trousers, skirts, long coats: they all had the same essential soft swagger, and it occurred to me that even the previous day’s crazy World Book Day mash-up at Gucci had featured the same outline in its floral tiered dresses, and the opening look of a cardigan belted over a pleated midi skirt worn with chunky loafers.

Dolce & Gabbana’s “fashion for all”, with its diverse casting, showed how good this looks on body shapes outside of the pencil-thin model norm. Fendi made what I felt to be a cast-iron case for wearing the midi skirt over tight, over-the-knee heeled boots. Bottega Veneta’s shrunken polo neck sweaters paired with dramatically swooshy skirts, showed how flattering this combination can be, making legs look longer in proportion to your top half. Giorgio Armani’s silky, floppy trousers worn with classically Armani-soft jackets brought the look closer to pyjamas. Prada gave the skirts the house-blend goofy attitude with puffball shapes at knee height on slim dresses. Donatella swapped in a scuba-tight, high-necked base layer in place of a polo neck, which, worn over a chiffon skirt, kept the top half bodycon tight for a Versace twist.

Having got the important business of what to wear sorted, a quick aside on how this relates to the bigger picture: a new silhouette always has something to say about femininity – think of Dior’s wasp-waisted new look with its regressive 1950s message, or the broad-shouldered power dressing of the 1980s. Next season’s look leaves behind the androgyny of last year in favour of a shape that is recognisably womanly, but not exaggeratedly hourglass. It is femininity, as rewritten in a new age of female solidarity. And best of all, we can all wear it.Read more at:formal dresses online