x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Katie Trotter: Styling around our seasonless sunshine

I don't buy practically; it doesn't even come into the equation. The problem is that I don't really like summer clothes.

On a recent trip to The Galleria, I found myself in the new bimba & lola, (one of my favourite Spanish stores) after a great lunch with a few friends in the newly opened Magnolia Bakery. What I should have been looking for were some floaty summer tea dresses, a nice pair of sandals, perhaps a light cardigan at a push. Practical stuff - things that will wear well in temperatures that I'm not entirely sure are made for human endurance. That's what should have happened. What actually happened? A pair of ponyskin spotted ankle boots. Practical indeed, a friend remarked. There was no comeback.

Admittedly, I don't buy practically; it doesn't even come into the equation. I remember being genuinely perplexed when a friend returned a pair of shoes that I knew she loved, because she wouldn't get enough wear out of them - an entirely novel concept to me.

The problem is that I don't really like summer clothes. It's autumn/winter for the rest of the world - all the things I know and love. Navy Burberry trench coats, patent zipped Tom Ford boots, dark woollen Alexander McQueen capes, hats, leather gloves, heavy embellished bags and embroidered tights. So here I am - five years into life in one of the hottest places on the planet, with a wardrobe bursting with wholly inappropriate clothing that I can't wear.

Realistically, what happens here, is that we wake up, take a peek outside - and nine times out of 10, it looks the same as the other 364 days of the year. We pretend, out of boredom, to make seasons of the yearly sunshine, squeezing wear out of our tailored jackets and closed shoes, but really our wardrobe could be almost the same all year round. Nobody thinks of multi-layering here - sticking to one piece makes things a little easier. Alternatively, we should think of dressing as a building exercise. Let's start with something you love, but are not entirely sure how to work into a summer wardrobe - say a tailored jacket. However unnecessary it seems, if you start with the outside and work your way inward, you can fill the gaps with orchestrated purpose. It can be a smart, breathable linen or a collarless, slouchy piece with oversized pockets. Just carefully consider your colour choice, as you will have to build everything else around it.

Trousers, another often-avoided staple, can help create an unexpectedly flattering and more interesting silhouette than the standard summer dress. Really, anything goes here but the skinny jean. Try shapes that you would often avoid, such as the peg leg or the high waist. For something more wearer-friendly, the mid-length skirt, as championed by Phoebe Philo at Céline, is a great option, as it can be worn with a simple chiffon shirt (always tucked in) for evenings or with a simple T-shirt for a more informal occasion.

The key is in keeping the mood light - this isn't a season for brash colour: try cream, soft turquoise, salmon tones or soft, buttery yellow. Ultimately, with love there will often be loss - there are some things that you have to accept are simply not going to work: smart leather boxy jackets, oversized knits or tailored outerwear, to name a few.

Which is where accessories come in: playful, larger pieces of jewellery with motifs work well to act as an anchor to an otherwise uneventful look, as will a boxy shoulder bag from the likes of Chloé. Think of new creative solutions to the problem. That Burberry trench? Why not get a version made in chiffon to be worn over dresses as a smart alternative? Remember, good style should be carefully considered.

ktrotter@thenational.ae

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