There’s still a boyish quality to Paul Smith, even though he’s a "Sir" now—not to mention the most financially successful Brit designer ever, and something of a national treasure to boot. Smith’s ability to play games with old English classics—deflating pomposity with color and wit, while never looking like he’s trying too hard—is what’s made him a worldwide hit in menswear, and guess what? That’s exactly how it works best for girls, too.

In a season when crisp shirts and V-neck sweaters are news again, Smith is in his element, having fun with stripes and ties, and turning school uniform-style fine-gauge knits into skimpy dresses. Cut close to the body, his suits, with their bracelet-length sleeves and their skirts caught up in a ruched detail in the back, are just naughty enough to avoid any teacher’s-pet primness. The designer also worked his blue-and-white shirting stripes into little camisole-top cotton dresses, and made printed silk scarves—that other bastion of ladylike dressing—into bright camisoles and strappy shifts. It added up to a happy, easy-to-shop collection that worked best when Sir Paul seemed to be designing off the cuff.