Stylish winter warmers

You might still be hanging on desperately to your tan, but now is the time to start choosing your pieces for some cold comfort

A stylish autumn/winter wardrobe needs solid foundations. Get your basics right - your coat and your boots - and you can build a long lasting collection that will see you through one, two or even more of the cooler seasons. You don't have to invest in a coat every year (although I would strongly advise you and your bank manager to consider it), but you must have a key-piece cover-up to see you through to spring. And when it comes to autumn/winter footwear, there really is no excuse for dilly-dallying and shilly-shallying. Every fashion-conscious woman needs a great pair of boots; the kind of boots you can wear on automatic pilot, popping them on without even thinking about it. So what have the models been wearing to trot down the catwalk in preparation for the autumn/winter season? If the collections of Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Valentino and Fendi are anything to go by (and they usually are) knee-high or over-the-knee style boots are being teamed with micro skirts, long boots are going to take lightweight dresses through autumn into winter, there's going to be lots and lots of super-soft suede and grey is being introduced as an interesting alternative to black. When it comes to coats, they tend to fall into two camps this season: decorative and sculptural. The former uses folds of fabric, abstract patterns and filigree lace detailing to reveal a real artistic flair. It's all very anti-credit crunch too with its generous use of plump furs, rich damask, ornate crystal clusters and polished, lustrous metallic finishes. If you go down the sculptural route, you need to up the glamour quotient with lush colours and luxe fabrics (cashmere, fur, satin) and pair them with unfussy details like concealed fastenings and structured necklines to give you a deceptively simple, yet elegant silhouette. Go on, admit it: just thinking about buying a new coat has made you feel warmer, hasn't it? Well, don't fight it - go with the glow.

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