At least half the secret to being hailed as a style leader lies in simply being a little unexpected with one's fashion choices. Witness the example of Ms Moss, who regularly reconfirms her coveted spot in the fashion firmament by going against the grain in a minimalist shift on the red carpet, for example, or plumping for super-sized flares when the rest of the world has just slimmed into its skinnies.

It's precisely this element of surprise that makes winter white such a strikingly glamorous option. Seen on the catwalks at Fendi, Ferragamo and Valli, head-to-toe white screams "elegance" precisely because it is the least practical shade of clothing you can wear during the height of summer, let alone in the grubby depths of December.

While others sensibly take refuge in the return of black, black and more black, those brave enough for brilliant white can rest safe in the knowledge that they will automatically be presumed wealthy (public transport and white don't mix terribly well) and admirably self-disciplined (ditto eating and drinking).

Recently sporting winter whites with success have been the actress Mary-Kate Olsen (extra style points for an unusually demure dress where other lithe starlets might have gone for a flesh-flashing number), the London model Daisy Lowe and Oscar winner Charlize Theron.

Naturally, celebs are less in need of a short-cut to looking rich and glamorous since, well, they are rich and glamorous. But for the rest of us, it's an exercise in illusion that will require some effort. Get it right, though, and you'll be the most elegant woman in the room. Just start making friends with your dry-cleaner now.

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