x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Katie Trotter: Get the balance right

How to strike a balance between blending in and wearing what you want.

There is something terribly annoying about the statement "dress to impress". It's a bit like being told to tidy your room, or brush your hair, or that your shoes could do with a polish. It's something so irritating, in fact, that most of us, if we could, would respond with a certain kind of rude gesture before flouncing upstairs with a good old hair flick and the thwack of a door slam.

Truth is, as much as we would like to claim wild injustice, or play the feminist card, we all know perfectly well that we are categorised by our clothes. We know the importance of dressing well, and we know its value. It certainly doesn't need pointing out.

You see, what we pick up in the morning and choose to slip over our heads, intentionally or not, is simply another form of self-projection. Why? Because that's what we do. We take each other apart, examining strengths and weaknesses in our choices, perhaps all in the hope of understanding ourselves a little better.

Aside from a few eccentrics, most of us adapt our clothes to our environment, in the same way perhaps that our tone changes in speech, or our body language varies. The problem lies in trying to please everyone.

Do we cling onto "safe" - sticking to a strict set of rules, never daring to break the mould, happily bobbing along in mediocrity? Or do we dress up for the crew "in the know", running the risk of being wildly misunderstood by those who are not?

It all depends, of course, on how you wish to be perceived, and which character you have chosen to take on in a certain environment. If you wear a neat, white shirt and a tailored suit, these are codes that everyone understands, but dine out on "granny chic" and be prepared for questions.

We are lucky that fashion moves fast. While yesterday was all about the jumpsuit and the Victorian ankle boot, today will be different - giving us room to breathe, and reminding us that mistakes will quickly be forgotten, almost encouraging us to experiment.

Take the late Isabella Blow, Alexander McQueen's original muse who wore vintage 1930s silver gowns in her hospital bed as she fought for her life. Bonkers maybe, but brave nonetheless.

It comes down to this: we don't want to be told what to do or what to worry about - it just creates more worry. So perhaps what shows real nous is standing our ground, remaining constant and not budging for anyone.



This week's highs and lows

SHOE-TASTIC To say that we are obsessed with Anastasia Radevich's shoe designs would be an understatement.

NOT A GOOD UNION Geri Halliwell designed this remake of her 1997 Union Jack dress for Next. Who will ever buy it?

FASHION SPOTTING Our new fave fashion blog is The Tiny Sartorialist, where parents of an adorable little boy share bang-on-trend pics of him.

PENCIL DRESSES With hot summer days ahead, the last thing we need is a tight dress. Bring on floaty full skirts.

GAULTIER DOES IT AGAIN Madonna's forthcoming tour will feature costumes by Jean-Paul Gaultier, who made the conical bra hot.