x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Katie Trotter: On finding your fashion

Win the fashion battle by sticking to what suits you and ignoring the fancy dress.

My passion for fashion has been burning furiously for more than two decades now. I remember my first shiny pair of shoes with a detachable bow that I got at the age of 9 just as clearly as I remember my last pair of leopard platforms I bought in Paris at the age of 29. I remember each and every high (such as the Westwood floral tea dress I bought with my first serious pay cheque in 2005) and of course the lows (such as the fluorescent Doc Martin boots I wore with a skirt with bells around the bottom in 1991). I've travelled across the globe in pursuit of fashion, and done some serious damage in most shopping destinations.

Yet I understand that fashion isn't for everyone. In fact, to some the whole concept can be intimidating - especially trends. Think of the flapper dress, the double collar, the high waist and some of the more ridiculous such as the pirate boot, the mule or underwear-as-outerwear. There is a point, of which I am very aware, when fashion crosses the line from fancy into fancy dress.

Luckily, these are, for the most part, easy to spot and just as easy to ignore, but there are always a few that return with the persistence of a pesky mosquito. Take the polo neck, one of my greatest fears and one that is abused so often. I spend hours explaining the importance of creating the illusion of a linear aesthetic, then in comes the polo neck and chops the whole thing in two. Aside from the neck itching and having something prod at your oesophagus all day long, the polo neck turns the best of us into a fidgeting mess, which is almost as offensive as appearing neckless - a walking head on shoulders.

Coloured or printed denim is another. Forget pink, green, red, purple or yellow - whatever the trend dictates - and stick to black, grey or blue. Leather can also be difficult; only the French seem to get away with it by maintaining the icy demeanor of a Parisian Voguette. For everyone else it runs too much risk to be messed with.

This season it was the calf-length skirt that caused the chaos. It's not remotely easy to wear, not for us normal folk. It only makes most of us appear rather dowdy - Thatcher-like. Lace also throws some of us off as we forget that quality is imperative; the lesson being, never buy cheap lace or we will look like a cheap curtain. Stay with dainty, simple shapes and muted colours to win the battle.

Somebody important once said to me: "Don't ever try to 'do' fashion; instead simply be." There is no need to woo the world with the wacky and wonderful - simply stick to what suits your frame, forget the pesky ship-in-the-night trends and you won't cause much offence.



This week's highs and lows

SPOTTED Our own Dubai-based film director Ali Mostafa, left, was front row at Burberry's menswear show.

CAKED ON KATE The usually au naturelle model wore so much make-up to a recent launch party in Paris that we thought she had had some work done.

UP IN THE AIR Chanel's couture show was every inch the 1960s lady, complete with a specially built airplane show venue.

FACE GAMES Walter Van Beirendonck's combination of bright leather, plaid and Jason X masks is enough to put us off of any menswear shows.

MDNA Madonna's new album (due in March) will be one of our new music must-haves, ahead of her June concert in Abu Dhabi.