M's fashion expert Katie Trotter offers tips on how to get the most out of your high street choices.
Katie Trotter: On being canny with your clothes
There are certain things in life we need to spend money on and certain things we don't. Clothing hovers uncomfortably somewhere in the middle of the two.
Interestingly, no matter how bizarre designers' creations get, we seem to lap them up, no matter the cost. Designer wear is expensive, and at times unnecessary. Fashion should have nothing to do with branding and everything to do with craftsmanship, something we have failed to understand as consumers.
You can have a fashionable wardrobe without paying a fortune for it, you just need to spend wisely. Start with your shoes – people notice shoes in a way that they don't notice a cotton T-shirt, so think of them as an investment. Let's put it this way: Dh500 shoes will last half as long as Dh1,000 shoes, yet Dh3,000 shoes will last a lifetime. The same thing goes for your handbag. Spend big on these two items and you can easily cut back on everything else.
Shopping on the high street can be overwhelming at best, so arrive armed with a well-thought-out list to avoid buying trend-driven pieces that you simply don't need. Make sure that ensuring the quality of the fabric will be your rule of thumb, no matter what you buy.
The high street does some great jeans, Topshop and Gap being the best for both fit and durability. Stick to grey black or navy as anything "fun" in colours such as red or yellow will only give you away. Zara does some fantastic coats, but again check for fit - you should be able to circle your arms easily without any pull on the fabric at all, and buttons should lie flat without strain.
A good trick on the high street is to try a size bigger than you normally are, as more often than not it will sit much better. If it annoys you, simply cut the tag out. Try experimenting with shapes and colours you normally avoid as we tend to get stuck in a rut with things that we think suit us and avoid items that may transform our shape and give us a new look.
Be wary of designer knockoffs - they can be spotted a mile off and will only look like the younger, less attractive little brother. Stick to items that look like they have been inspired by the catwalk and not a copy, and avoid anything synthetic as it will not sit well; stick to natural fabrics such as silk, cotton or linen.
Of course, it's pointless for me to tell you to bypass consumerism, because we all indulge - just be a little more clever about it. Our clothes are an extension of ourselves, and they need to last, so consume wisely.
This week's highs and lows
MANE EXCESS We don't quite understand the beauty/art/reasoning behind this hairstyle at Maison Martin Margiela.
FASHIONABLE WHEELS How do you get fashion junkies to buy a Mercedes? Get Lara Stone to model in the ad campaign.
KRISTEN STEWART Our new fave girl crush is the new face of Balenciaga. Doesn't get much cooler than that.
ARCTIC GOWN When you cross a penguin with an eel, you get this unflattering Donna Karan dress.
AB-LICIOUS If you've been slacking off with your workout routine, start panicking. Spring/Summer 2012 is all about the bare midriff as seen at Pucci (left), Prada and Dolce&Gabbana.