Katie Trotter: How to stay cool in London

Katie Trotter muses on how staying cool in London takes more than simply wrapping up warm.

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My mother has a rule - actually, she has many but that's a whole other chapter. No matter where in the world we are or what we're doing, we're expected to go home for Christmas Day. The holiday season means the long haul home to where the grasses are greener, the skies more foreboding and the girls enviably cooler.

It can be a confusing time. Last year, in terms of style (and many other matters, if I'm truly honest) I was a little lost. I stood like a refugee at London's Heathrow, happily wearing last season's swing coat (all I saw were pea coats everywhere), still sporting the jewelled ankle boot (everyone was in flat brogues) and had my "what seemed a great investment in Abu Dhabi" oversized Prada handbag slung across my shoulder. Aside from utterly freezing (that's a given), I was out of touch. I'd forgotten the ethos of London style. I'd forgotten how people dress down as a statement. There were funny old hats I hadn't seen before, asymmetrical haircuts, bags from some cool shop on the King's Road, and patterned capes that looked like they had come from an Amish community. The unthinkable had happened; standing there in grim old London I looked a bit off kilter, a bit try-hard, a bit - dare I say it? - blingy.

Let's face it: it is difficult to pull off cool in Abu Dhabi. All of you who have spent the last few seasons streamlining your wardrobe towards an unforgiving climate will hear me. You want to stand out, but it's hard. Layering becomes an absent memory, and forget even attempting the season's must-have fringe. After two minutes outside it's plastered to your face like a wet fish.

But this time around I'm prepared. It's all about pattern on pattern, texture on texture - it's a layering revolution. A winter coat is the closest thing in fashion to architecture so get it right. Spend all you have and make sure it fits like a glove; it's a solid investment that the rest of your wardrobe will work around. Although beware of going down the cutesy trail with the matching hat and scarf; you don't want to run into Suri Cruise territory.

Experiment with tights - the thicker the better - and opt for muted tones such as pewter greys and dusky pinks instead of the normal black. The idea is to load up on the layers to an almost dizzying effect.

Sometimes when it comes to experimenting with style all it takes is a little jolt to kick us back into shape. Straying from our comfort zone is when we gain knowledge. So when travelling, look, listen, linger, learn and do. As Woody Allen said: "Eternal nothingness is fine if you happen to be dressed for it."

M ometer

This week's highs and lows

Lady in grey The new Lady Dior bag is on our must-have list. Catch a glimpse of Dior's incredible campaign video online.

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