Where I’m from, around this time of year I’d be starting to think about wearing my favourite leather pants again. It’s still too hot in Hong Kong, so I thought maybe black leather shorts to get my fix without overheating?
Shorts Story, SoHo

The Dictator rules: How perspi­ca­cious. We just shorten every­thing to make it suit our climate. That’s why you see so many women with shaved heads walking around Hong Kong in crop tops, hot pants, boleros and ankle boots. I am, of course, being sarcastic. Rest assured, leather trousers are most defi­nitely back on the racks and on the streets. Leather shorts are an entirely different matter but, amazingly, you’ve stumbled on to another fashion-approved item. However, although celebs wear them, have an honest look in the mirror before you do. The differ­ence? They get paid for looking good. To look current, go for a pair with volume. Chanel’s are super-short and pleated in black grained deer leather (HK$33,500). Coach has a fab pleated pair in ultra-soft lamb­skin (HK$4,965). Believe it or not, elasticated waists are also de rigueur, as on the faux leather number by Forever 21 (HK$99 to HK$169). Stella McCartney doesn’t use animals, of course, but she has created quilted, padded faux black leather shorts for a bit of sporty chic (HK$4,690). Other designers went for a slim silhouette, such as Saint Laurent’s high-waisted lambskin shorts (HK$19,105); or RtA’s pair with cuffed hems (HK$4,615; www.fwrd.com). Zadig & Voltaire, ever the cool kids, have kept their flat-front leather shorts, well, short and sweet but toughened up with studs along the pockets (HK$4,100). How you style them is crucial. Think: layer, not leather queen.

I have a favourite old top that has finally given up the ghost. I’ve worn it more times than I can count, but I still don’t know what to call the design. There is a sort of twisted knot at the front, but it is also part of the whole piece, like magic! Do you know where I can find something like that?
In a Twist, Stanley

 

The Dictator: Yes, and do you know why I’m not shouting at you? Because I know regular readers are doing it for me. You live in Hong Kong. Get yourself to a tailor already. (OK, maybe I raised my voice just a little bit there.) You could have pieces like this reproduced in multiple colours and fabrics. As if you needed a more authoritative voice than mine to approve the style, Maison Margiela has cut the “magic” you like into several tops and dresses. The tops include a cap-sleeved blouse in black or maroon silk crepe de chine (HK$6,899) and a more casual black cotton jersey T-shirt (HK$4,799). I wish there were a fancy term I could trot out for the tailoring technique, preferably named after a glamorous historical figure, but most retailers plainly refer to it as a twist front, twist knot or twist effect. Margiela’s descrip­tion refers to a knotted neckline with draped detailing. On the subject of tees, T by Alexander Wang has made cute, cropped ones in white, grey or black, where the twisted knot is placed just above the belly button (HK$1,400). The fabulously stylish and affordable Cos offers a short-sleeved dress (which could double as a long tee) in superfine coral red or navy cotton with a twisted, or draped as they call it, neckline (HK$550). See also: Derek Lam 10 Crosby, Narciso Rodriguez, and, sorry, but all the maternity brands. (At least you know they’ll help to hide a spare tyre.)