Katie Trotter: The real beauty is feeling good about your look

Fashion editors hate January. For us, the first month of the year is a bit of a no-man’s land.

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Fashion editors hate January. For us, the first month of the year is a bit of a no-man’s land stuck somewhere between Joan Collins in business class (party season), the need for comfort (let’s face it, the jeans are a little tight after a third helping of Christmas pudding) and austerity.

The thing is, everyone has something to say about what others are wearing these days. Magazine editors and bloggers seem to offer up opinion that no longer generates debate, just more opinion, often delivered with such assertion it ends up encouraging the polar opposite of what we set out to do in the first place: rewarding self-expression.

It is an endlessly captivating study: why and how we dress like we do. There is no doubt that in the UAE we tend to put a lot more effort into our appearance than we normally would – even those with no apparent interest in fashion tend to dress with a little bit of ooh and aah in order to fit into a rather glamorous world of opulence.

Look around; lashes are dyed, (perhaps with semi-permanent extensions), nails are well-shaped and always painted, brows are tinted, skin is expensively treated and often lasered in the constant search for eternal youth.That full, shiny, perfect hair we crave will often be pumped with keratin to retain its gloss. And all this is meant to make us feel better? I beg to differ. The problem is, it’s easier to blend in than to go against the grain completely.

We fully realise (I very much hope) that practicality should trump glamour, yet we still struggle with wanting to look the part in a sea of manicured beauty. It’s a tough one, because we live in a society, somewhat unfairly I may add, in which perfection is rewarded.

In an ideal world, of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. Perhaps all we need is to take a step back every so often from all of the razzle dazzle. Indeed, if you are carrying a pair of flip-flops in your handbag for the walk from your 4x4 to your desk, or carrying a make-up bag to work, something needs addressing. Of course, looking good and feeling good are entirely different stories, the problem only arising when the former overrides the latter.

It’s all very well, of course, preaching “team comfort” from the rolling hills of Ireland, where I am home for the Christmas period, sitting in my father’s fleece (it’s freezing) and a pair of old leather jodphur boots from my horsey years (nothing else keeps the water out). It’s easy not to think about a statement dress when the biggest “occasion” of the evening is throwing dirty sticks for the dog on the beach. Regardless, nothing like an approaching new year to encourage a little self-perspective.

You see, from all of my years of researching taste and how it feeds into our everyday style choices, the only conclusion I am 100 per cent certain of is that fashion can’t (trust me on this) even make itself happy. It’s a funny merry-go-round of rules riddled with uncertainty.

Despite our somewhat titanic efforts, our choices will never satisfy everbody, so try not to get too caught up in things. Remember, what is perfectly acceptable in one social grouping or situation will be downright idiotic in another. So instead of telling you what or what not to do or wear, sit safely in the knowledge there is no right or wrong way; for the boundaries in taste and authority are highly debatable and ever-changing.

If you are to have one resolution this coming year, don’t make it a self-critical one; only then can we really focus on making ourselves feel at ease wherever we are.

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