With London Fashion Week now well underway, our capital once again reveals itself as the nucleus of European haute couture. Every citizen a trend-setter, every pavement a catwalk. Londoners wear their clothes with verve and style, and what kicks off here reverberates around the world. Who couldn't fail to be impressed?
Toppermost trend of the season is the "overcoat". Everybody's wearing one, either buttoned or zipped, as this fashion statement sweeps the streets. Key colours include khaki, dark blue and grey, with the general consensus veering very much towards black. Padded fabric brings glamour, and added warmth, while wool blend and waterproof polyester continue to be popular. Pockets are usually external at rib height, but occasionally located top-chest or mid-sleeve. The word is out - expect to see an overcoat across shoulders near you soon.
London's cognoscenti mix and match their outerwear with a variety of modish accoutrements. Woollen strips looped and knotted are the order of the day, in a bold elemental statement they call a "scarf". Another favoured neckpiece is the "hood", always rear-aligned, usually loosely dangling. This may look like a needless extra, vulnerable to filling up during rain showers, but each hood doubles as waterproof protection if rotated upwards over the top of the head. Innovation combined with practicality - that's London à la mode.
Trousers are long this season, extending below the knee then further below the ankle. Denim is the fabric of choice - usually well-worn, distressed or stained, rarely pristine. These indigo strides clothe the legs of all and sundry, part of an unspoken movement, a shared legwear consensus. Meanwhile, nestling cosily beneath hem level, London has fondly embraced the "boot". Ideal protection from wintry splashes, this high-sided footwear adds a show-stopping boldness to any outfit. And for those with more heart than sole, there's always the "trainer". Bright young things think nothing of sporting pumps in electric colours like beige or navy, and this understated classic never dates.
When Londonfolk step out on fashion parade, eclectic headgear is de rigeur. Rising star this semester is the "bobble hat", worn with or without pompom, pulled down over the hair to create an insulating layer. While some prefer knitted stripes, others plump for plain (with the logo of their favourite sporting brand an optional extra). Alternative millinery comes in the shape of the "flat cap" - a headstrong vintage worn without irony by today's great-grandkids. Watch out too for the ubiquitous "trapper hat" - a faux-fur confection ideal for protecting chilled lobes. Whatever sartorial option is chosen, those with flair always aspire to combine individuality and comfort.
Finally we celebrate those unique accessories which elevate any outfit above the everyday. An "umbrella", obviously, at the moment, and maybe a pair of thin white cables trailing limply from the ears. No Londoner dares venture far without a bag, occasionally low-slung and canvas, but more often of synthetic origin. A plastic carrier encircling the wrist like a bracelet, or a "rucksack" sourced from the exclusive Argos collection - these are our capital's transports of delight.
Ride any train, walk any street, and you'll see the London Look everywhere. So natural it appears to have been thrown together with no forethought whatsoever, so effortless it appears to have been assembled on no budget at all. Real fashion's more Primark than Prada, whatever the glossies might tell you, and the true model citizens are you and me.