Real Clothes: Like a virgin

THE CATWALK VIEW: HOW TO WEAR WHITE, DARLING

Imagine having the sort of lifestyle where you could dress from head to toe in white or cream and feel comfortable. Hard, isn't it? You'd have to be very rich and very thin - these are unforgiving shades and yes, they get dirty. But they are also fantastic for lifting your spirits and just a dash of white or cream could give your wardrobe a whole new lease of life. These light neutrals can be worn with virtually any colour and will add instant luxury to old favourites.

There is nothing like a complete oufit in white or cream to make you stand out and feel special. But if you're reluctant to go the whole hog, then put your toe in the water gently. Of course white won't flatter your figure like black does so play it safe - wear it on the top half of the body, not the bottom. A simple cream polo neck jumper with a pair of black trousers will look stylish whatever your shape. A cream coat is another good bet, guaranteed to turn the dreariest outfit into something special.

If the thought of the dry-cleaning bill makes you feel faint then try accessorising. Oasis has the perfect item for beginners - a fleecey scarf sprinkled with sequins that will leave your friends' pashminas in the shade.

Michele Smith

Senior vice president, Burberry

Natural tones of white are important this season. They form a good base for the stronger colours like rust and sunset. Cream is an elegant alternative to black or navy, and works well in luxurious wool and cashmere. A person dressed all in cream can make a statement that is strong but subtle.

Gabriele Strehle

Designer, Strenesse

Whites reflect the new softness and warmth that women desire. It is a luxury colour and reflects sensuality, power and harmony.

Elspeth Gibson

Designer

White can be a very difficult colour to wear - it should not be worn by everyone. Bright white can draw colour out of your face and can look cheap unless you have a light tan. People with paler complexions should wear off-white instead. Evening wear can look great in white but only if it is cut and made well. Gold and silver trims complement white and lend a richer evening feel.

Caroline Bennett

Colour Me Beautiful

Everyone can wear white; however, you need to find the right shade to complement your colouring. People with cool colouring can wear white; those with warm colouring should opt for off-white, cream or ivory. White is for creative types or those wanting to make a fashion statement. It's great for the festive season, especially if you team it with a splash of colour. Avoid wearing white on heavier proportioned bodies as it draws attention to those unwanted areas. For a dramatic look, wear it against dark shades.

Roger Tredre

Editor in chief,

Worth Global Style Network

White is such an impractical choice, but who in the fashion world has ever worried about practicality? It's best to wear off-whites, or white in tonal combinations. Try white for coats, big chunky knitted jumpers, and scarves and hats. Make sure it's machine washable.

THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE

Shrug, pounds 85, Diesel StyleLab, 12 Floral St, London WC2 (tel: 0171 833 2255). Fleece tube top (s-l), pounds 18, French Connection, 249 Regent St, London W1 (tel: 0171 399 7200). Padded skirt (s-l), pounds 75, Replay, Cooshti, 57 Park St, Bristol (tel: 0171 505 2700)

White velcro-fastening jacket, pounds 129, Alexander Campbell, House of Fraser, Bluewater Shopping Centre, Kent (tel: 0171 836 4886). Pleat skirt (sizes s-l), pounds 75, Replay, as before. Mittens, pounds 30, Diesel StyleLab, as before

Cashmere/silver-beaded vest, pounds 295, The Scotch House, 2 Brompton Rd, London SW1 (tel: 0171 581 2151). Cream satin skirt (s- l), pounds 75, French Connection, as before. Hat, pounds 14.99, Oasis, 292 Regent St, London W1 (tel: 01865 881986). Gloves, pounds 5.99, H&M, 261-271 Regent St, London W1 (tel: 0171 323 2211)

Cream fur-trim gilet (sizes 8-14), pounds 40, Miss Selfridge, 221/223 Oxford St, London W1 (tel: 0800 915 9900). Cream hipsters (sizes 26-34), pounds 110, Diesel StyleLab, as before. White tights (s-l), pounds 6, Aristoc, department stores (tel: 01773 525520)

OPPOSITE PAGE, FROM TOP

Cream skirt (s-l), pounds 210, Moon Younghee at Whistles, 21 St Christopher's Place, London W1 (tel: 0171 487 4484). Double-layer jumper, pounds 150, Alexander Campbell, 46 Monmouth St, London W1 (tel: 0171 836 4886)

Sleeveless top with beaded trim (sizes 6-12), pounds 85, feather skirt (sizes 8-12), pounds 1,250, Tommy Hilfiger, 51 New Bond St, London W1 (tel: 0171 290 9888). Cream fleece sequin scarf, pounds 19.99, Oasis, as before

Photographs by NEIL MASSEY

Make-up by Sharon Willmore using Cosmetics A La Carte.

Hair by Giuseppe Bulzis at Windle using Bumble & Bumble (tel: 0171 497 2393).

Stylist assisted by Gwyneth Holland.

Photographer assisted by Martin Worsley.

Modelled by Mari.

Thanks to Lee Valley Ice Rink (tel: 0181 533 3154).

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When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
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