How does everyone keep their white leather trainers so clean and, well, white? Even if I’m careful, they always end up with marks on them. Is there a trainer-cleaning service I’m supposed to be using?

Sullied Sneakers, Mid-Levels

The Dictator rules: Oh, for heaven’s sake! Do we now need to pay someone to keep our trainers looking like we’ve never worn them? In our day, it was considered uncool to have new-looking trainers. Mind you, we weren’t paying HK$9,000 for a pair of kicks. How times have changed; an entire trainer-cleaning industry has sprouted now. A stain repellent, such as 3M Scotchgard Leather Protector for Shoes (HK$115; Wing On), is your first line of defence, and baby wipes and basic shoe cream will help. But we know you’ll only feel better about your sullied sneakers if someone else does it for you.

For that, you can turn to the same experts who save bags in Hong Kong. The Leather Doctors (, for example, have experience with trainer tragedies. Send them photos of the damaged goods to get a quote and enjoy the free pick-up and delivery service. A similar deal is provided by Clean Master (, proudly endorsed by actress Carol “Do Do” Cheng, as you’ll see on its website.

You’ll also love fancy DIY trainer cleaners. Sneaker Lab not only looks good in its slick, recyclable packaging, the cleaning products, which include trainer wipes, cleaners and pro­tectors, are also biodegrad­able (HK$89 to HK$259; Los Angeles-based trainer-cleaning brand Jason Markk sells a variety of products (HK$100 to HK$160; Lane Crawford) that are also worth checking out.

I have that uncomfortable feeling when you know something is wrong, but it feels so right – white trousers in wintertime. Where does The Dictator stand on the matter?

White, Out?, Central

The Dictator: Another question about the colour white? Seems everyone has pure intentions for the new year – well, January at least. The antiquated American rule, “No white after Labour Day”, is believed to have originated around the turn of the last century and likely marked the end of casual summer and a return to work and darker, more formal hues.

Where to find fur-trimmed socks in Hong Kong, and why white shoes are the biggest no-no

Considering women’s hemlines now reach far above the ankle, men are no longer required to wear hats, denim isn’t reserved for hard labour and someone doesn’t have to die for it to be OK to wear black, it’s incredible that the white rule is still in the public consciousness.

So, can you wear white trousers in winter? Absolutely. Should you? Probably not (and forget about white leggings – ever). White makes everything look bigger (all women are worried about how their bum looks). White bottoms are also a stain magnet. Nevertheless, some women do make white trousers look fabulous. We prefer an off-white or ivory, such as that on J.Crew’s Maddie pant in bi-stretch wool (HK$1,280) and 3.1 Phillip Lim’s cropped trousers in antique white (HK$4,000). And if you can pull off the enduring culotte trend, try a pair, such as Zara’s off-white ones with side slits at the hem (HK$299).

What you wear them with is just as important. Mix ivory and beige hues with the off-white option. Break up bright, all-white with contrasting outerwear in black leather, fur or a colourful pattern. And tread carefully when it comes to white shoes.