If one thing can be said about this past month’s Spring/Summer ‘11 shows, it’s that they were rife with sudden change. Forget about all the ’50s stuff you’re seeing right now. Next season, floaty, peasant-style dresses that look straight out of the ’70s will make those “Mad Men”-inspired skirts look like old news. Skirt and dress lengths will get longer (mid-calf or floor-grazing). And all that blush and camel you’ve been wearing this fall? Colors will be brighter by the time the summer arrives — a lot brighter; think fuchsia, purple, orange and neon green — and often come in stripes or blocked patterns.

But hues and hemlines aren’t the only things changing at a dizzying rate. Significant, long-term trends are emerging as well. For one, an increasing number of designers are paying less and less attention to the seasons for which they’re designing. Much of the clothing showed for spring/summer could also work for colder weather. The looks at Prada came accessorized with fur stoles in electric, saturated colors that would be perfect for the coming holiday season. Meanwhile, Burberry Prorsum showed leather biker jackets that screamed chilly-day-in-October rather than balmy-afternoon-in-June. Most importantly, those seasonally ambiguous jackets were available for immediate order during the show.

Truth be told, most of what we’ve seen on catwalks will look old by the time it hits stores next year. Considering how accessible the shows are these day (anyone can stream them live online, or view the images), a girl can’t help but want to shop directly off of the runways. It’s enough to make one wonder when the retail cycle will catch up and make it possible for a shopper to do just that.