The season's key looks are many and varied, and becoming more difficult to define each year. In an age of fast tweets and faster fashion seasons, do trends still exist? One magazine declares red as the biggest colour story of the season, while another says green; a fashion editor sees echoes of the Jazz Age, while another thinks it's all about 1950s Americana. Their interpretations are all correct, of course, but it's up to you which fashion themes and trends you want to take notice of. For winter, we decided to define the season's trends through five key personalities - retro to posh, minimalist to romantic and something sporty in between. Which one are you? Who knows, you might even be a touch of each...
THE RETRO LADY
A mash-up of the innocence of the 1950s and the freedom of the 1960s, this season's retro woman is a kookier take on fashion's favourite reference - not so much Betty or Joan from Mad Men, but a weirder, more joyful version of them. In sugary shades, prim plaids, and wallpaper florals, she wears a scarf wrapped round her head, accessorises with massive dangly earrings and keeps her hemlines above the knee. This winter she favours wacky prints verging on the wonderfully kitsch (or ugly, depending on your sense of fashion humour), touching on ideas of vintage Americana and that continuing fashion motif, the slightly unhinged housewife. Always in her wardrobe, no matter the season? A quirky matching skirt suit, several polka dot pieces, a Mod-style swing coat, and anything with a peplum.
Her one winter purchase: A retro print. Karen Walker "The Ladies" daisy print dress, $370.
Diary note: The polka dot and print-heavy Marni for H&M collection arriving in stores on March 8. Sadly not available to purchase here in New Zealand, but friends in Britain can purchase on your behalf ... and there's always eBay.
Quietly confident, this is the woman whose wardrobe whispers, not shouts; the one who doesn't necessarily stand out in a crowd but who always looks intimidatingly neat and pulled together. Simple and almost austere, some may call her style boring but she doesn't care; she has more important things to think about. Although don't make the mistake of thinking she doesn't care about fashion - look in her wardrobe and you'll find it's perfectly organised with various fashion classics: a pair of loafers, a sensible pair of tailored trousers, a mohair jumper, a camel coat, a sheath dress, and several pairs of classic pump heels.
Her one winter purchase: A polo neck sweater. Juliette Hogan merino polo, $399, and "Malorie" silk trouser $359.
Diary note: Already happened - the return of the queen of minimalism, Jil Sander, to her namesake label earlier this week.
THE SPORTS STAR
She may not actually play, but her wardrobe smacks of athleticism and fitness. She favours mesh, zips and other performance fabrics, layers practical anoraks over or cycle shorts under chic dresses, teams crisp tennis whites with neons - and would much rather wear her Nike trainers than a pair of heels any day. Think of it as modern sportswear with touches of luxury. With its slim-fitting ski pants, over-sized sweaters and blazes of neon sitting alongside lush velvets and clinical whites, Zambesi's winter collection represents this well. There's also a preppy side to this look: peek in this girls' wardrobe and you'll find various baseball caps, classic backpacks and collegiate style sweaters.
Her one winter purchase: Zambesi "Extention" top $235 and "Layback" pants $295.
Diary note: London Olympics, July 27 to August 12.
Behind her prim and proper pencil skirt and romantic silk chiffon top, this one is all buttoned up sensuality, with a penchant for lingerie dressing (bustiers, cut-outs and tiny camisoles), curve enhancing dresses, leather and false eyelashes. Kate Sylvester's winter collection, called The Secretary after the film it was inspired by, will be a favourite of this woman, with its bras worn under sheer blouses, buttoned-up knitwear, buckle and stud detailing and strict pencil skirts. The pin-up is also very jealous of Lana Del Rey's hair ...
Her one winter purchase: A prim, buttoned-up shirt. Kate Sylvester "James" shirt, $295, and "Lillian" leather skirt $645.
Diary note: There's an intellectual behind that pencil skirt: she'll feed her brain at the Writers and Readers Festival in May and the Degas to Dali exhibition opening at the Auckland Art Gallery on March 3.
Blame Kate Middleton and Downton Abbey. The return of posh, as it's being called in Britain, is influencing fashion here too. This lady loves luxury and always looks like she's richer than you, with touches of the British Sloane Ranger - she appreciates a good quilted jacket, corduroy, a ruffled blouse, and a good, sturdy pair of leather boots. You'll never find her in gaudy prints or loud brights; she prefers rich deep colours and lush, textural fabrics - velvet, fur, tweed, intricate lace. And she looks great in winter's longer hemline.
Her one winter purchase: A ruffled bow blouse. Helen Cherry red "Cocktail" blouse, $459, and "Taren" skirt $579.
Diary note: A major royalist, she'll be celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee weekend from June 2-5, and hanging out for the arrival of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in NZ in November.