WHILE the end of the summer is always a little sad as we trundle back to our 'real lives' of dark mornings, traffic jams, porridge and wet wool, I find great solace in the arrival of a new fashion season.
We Irish aren't great at 'spring' and 'summer' clothes.
I mean, let's be honest, how much wear did you really get out of that shortie jumpsuit, or the strapless maxi dress? But winter is a different story. Winter is all about layers of clothing, and about coats, scarves, boots and woollies -- things we're very good at wearing.
And this winter's runway offerings are particularly inspiring. Elegance is back -- retro looks from the Forties, Sixties and Seventies and even the 1990s (yes, it's almost time for a Nineties revival).
Only bother is, with the return of elegance, comes a more challenging way to dress. Pencil skirts are back, as are neat jackets, pretty blouses and plenty of slick, body-skimming shapes. That's a tall order for those of us who've spent the past few seasons in loose shift dresses, palazzo pants and baggy T-shirts.
With just a week to go before the easy pieces of summer have to be packed away, I've decided to embrace this change of fashion direction and have been spending my early mornings in a basement in Merrion Square, throwing myself at the mercy of John Belton, the torturous (I mean 'results driven') personal trainer who promises fast progress with minimum fuss.
It's already working, I can feel those beautiful 1940s-style fitted dresses are just a walking lunge away, and today I got my first 'wow, you're losing weight' comment. Whoop.
But I'm not just prepared to stop at the workouts. Nope, elegance doesn't stop at the ankle, and the new season's shoes are moving in shape and direction too.
Away from platforms and wedges and towards delicate pointy toes, blocky tall heels and sexy secretary stilettos. My poor tendons are way too long for that, and my feet are far more used to padding around inside wide ballet flats.
So it's all change there too. Up until this week, I could only 'do' heels for about 15 minutes, or 500 metres at a time. With the exception of the races, weddings and big days out, I'd never be more than an inch off the ground, unless I'd a spare pair of flip-flops in my bag.
Now, I'm devoting September to learning to walk in heels. Properly. I believe the trick is to bring your most challenging shoes with you to the supermarket. Put them on when you get your trolley and use the same trolley as a sort of stabiliser as you gingerly go heel-toe, heel-toe, heel-toe down the aisle (although Kate Moss' GBF, hairdresser James Brown told me I should only walk on my toes).
Eventually, with practice in the supermarket, one gathers confidence and can cast aside the trolley.
What an amazing day that will be. And even better, how great will it be when (if ever) my feet stop hurting in the darned shoes.
But I'm determined to get with the season this year. After my 'metabolic conversion' session with John this morning at the gym (don't ask, I couldn't do half of it), I wobbled around like Bambi in my 'training heels' to get the hang of my new posture.
I'm not sure which was the greater challenge, countless squats with dumbbells, or the six flights of stairs up to the office in six-inch wedges.
The end result of the day has been toe cramp, but I shall persevere.
The call of the mesh, bodycon Stella McCartney polka dot dress is just too strong to resist.
Melanie Morris is editor of Image magazine