Fashion: Song, sung blue

ANOTHER new year, another extreme case of the blues. Not, let me hasten to add, the depressive syndrome that cloaks the populace while they are packing away the sparkly trappings of the festive season and reconsidering the folly of those Boxing Day half-price sale bargains. No, what I'm talking about is the great denim comeback.

Comeback? Er, you're right to protest that denim has never really been away. In changing silhouettes and ever more inventive finishes, jeans have remained the underpinning mainstay of every stylish woman's wardrobe for as long as anyone can remember. But what is new for this new year is denim's absolute pre-eminence. Salute fashion's first-star fabric of the After-noughties!

Denim perfectly reflects the current sea-change in fashion mood. The big brand trophies of conspicuous consumption that made the most fashion headlines in the decade we've just put to rest are about to be displaced by a subtle and altogether less identifiable style idiom.

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Reflecting consumer antipathy towards the utter nonsense of It bags, It shoes and It-anything-elses, fashion is entering a new era of democratisation in which spending power is no longer a factor in capturing the look of the moment. In 2010, anonymity rules.

It was denim's accessibility and universality that inspired the late, great couturier Yves Saint Laurent to identify jeans as the one fashion innovation he'd most like to have authored.

And, ever since the very first "designer jeans" appeared way back in the seventies, other fashion frontliners have tweaked furiously at the idiom without ever quite making nonsense of a heritage dating back to American workwear of the gold rush era. In successive seasons, jeans have been skin-tight or flared, high-rise or low-slung, pristine or ripped'n'trashed. Yet they've never ever lost sight of their origins.

This latest denim rush doesn't especially remember the origins of jeans in the 1880s – rather it harks back to the way they were worn in the 1980s. And this means the style concept you do truly need to get your head around is that of double-denim. It's no longer enough to boast cool jeans; you need to partner them with a denim gilet or jean jacket.

But do please take special care to avoid the Status Quo look. Choose different washes for the two pieces to keep your look randomly thrown-together rather than matched. Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt may have been honoured with OBEs, but as yet neither is a fashion icon.

And don't despair if your personal style idiom is pretty and feminine rather than tough and rugged. As fashion is still fixating on the 1980s, amid the advance deliveries of new season merchandise you'll find denim fashioned into tiers of ra-ra-ruffles on short skirts and super-cute mini-dresses.

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But there is one alarming facet of the new blues attack that I'm obliged to disclose: some of the inventive finishes characterising the newest denim fashion looks do bear an astonishing similarity to Eighties' stonewash.

It's terrifying, I know. But it could be worse. As yet, no cutting-edge stylist is recommending accessorising your democratic unbranded double-denim look with white court shoes and a perm.