x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Katie Trotter: A good-quality, well-fitting jacket will be your go-to for years.

Paul Smith 2013. Courtesy of Paul Smith
Paul Smith 2013. Courtesy of Paul Smith

Let’s face it; sometimes, fashion has the tendency to lean on the silly side when given the chance. Take the “must have” item of the season, the “trophy jacket”. I’ll be the first to admit, it is perhaps a little overzealous in its terminology. Are we really going to win by buying yet another light coat? Probably not. A must have? Well, nobody really needs a jacket, unless of course they are cold. But, as with all good plot lines, there is always a back story, and, well, sometimes being wholly practical in our choices and a little, ahem, self-righteous, is almost as predictable as the former.

So, even if you feel like you are paddling away furiously at the periphery of style (or think you are much above any such antics), relax for a minute and stop thinking “fashion” and start to think more carefully about what you like to look at, about your fundamental principles of taste. Because that is much more important than what anybody can try to entice you to buy into.

So, now (without a hint of irony, I may add) that I have got all that out the way, I’ll get back to my “trophy jacket”. There are many things I am happy to scrimp on, but when it comes to sharp tailoring, you have to be prepared to spend – cut and fabric choice is everything, and without the best of quality in both, it is an utterly pointless purchase. One good-quality, well-fitting jacket will be your go-to for years.

If you’re lucky enough to have an hourglass figure, rather than an apple or “inverted triangle” (more few questionable terms, I’ll admit), the key is to accentuate your curves, not to drown yourself in excess fabric and pretend they don’t exist. Trust me, no matter how large you feel, a tent-like shape will only make you look larger. Good tailoring will be your new go-to. Opt for single-breasted jackets (double-breasted will only widen an already large chest) and make sure they are cinched at your waist with one or two buttons at the most. A little flare over the hips will help even things out and emphasise your waist.

If, like the majority of women, you have a pear-shaped figure with a heavy bottom and thighs and narrow shoulders, there are clever tailoring techniques to disguise the unbalanced form. Your hips (not for want of trying) are not going anywhere soon, so try your best to work with them the best you can. Despite what most people think, jackets that hit just above the hipbone tend to balance the overall form better than those that fall below.

Jackets with slightly padded shoulders or a puffed sleeve will add needed structure to the shoulders, as will wide lapels. Think of tricking the eye by drawing all the attention upwards and away from the perceived problem area by the use of detailing and added structure.

If you have a boyish frame – first, revel in the knowledge (if only for a while) that you are the green-eyed envy of all of the above. A good, heavy, double-breasted trench coat has the kind of excess that is needed to create a fuller shape. Thicker fabrics and busy patterns will help – leather or velvet will give you a greater visual presence than chiffon or silk, for example.

To conclude, while it is important to learn to accept the shape you have been given, don’t give up, or write the whole thing off as trite. Because believe it or not, fashion is a shrewd liar, a master of disguise – so if nothing else, use it for what it’s worth.

ktrotter@thenational.ae