Autumn fashion: great coats

Wait a whole season without seeing a single coat you like, and then suddenly five come along at once. And all at less than pounds 200. Styling by Rachel Collins. Photographs by Gordon Metz
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The Independent Culture
Television has become watchable again, children are back at school, the mornings are getting chilly, and you find yourself eating pie for supper instead of salad. This can only mean one thing: autumn is here. But don't get depressed, there are lots of things to be happy about. The shops are full of fantastic clothes, the magazines are full of fantastic clothes, and the markets are full of fantastic clothes, too. When the days are no longer hot and balmy, I take solace in what I'm going to wear.

As autumn kicks in, followers of fashion do two things: first they unpack their classic winter items, the ones that were carefully folded away in May, then they go shopping. This is usually because the clothes they unpack suddenly look dated. Colours are wrong, the silhouette has changed, and the things we see in the shops, and the magazines are so much nicer.

The garment that most often suffers this seasonal malaise is the coat. Last year it was camel-coloured and in Crombie style, the year before it had to be a navy pea coat, and the year before that it was long, slim-fitting and preferably in black velvet.

Take a look this year at the long-slim-maxi and mid-length and boxy-shaped coats. Both are flattering to wear, and they are readily available in stores from Harvey Nichols to French Connection; they also have the silhouettes that will most complement the boot-cut trousers, maxi skirts, slim-fit shirts and polo-necks that are key for fashionable women everywhere this season. The colour of the coat you choose should be basic, so opt for blonde (the new word for camel), classic navy, grey or black (if you are feeling sensible), or dark purple, deep plum and chocolate brown (for a bit of sass).

If fashion at a reasonable price is a priority, the selection of coats we have photographed should suit you. Each one costs less than pounds 200, and comes from a well-respected high street name. Be assured that you will look dashing, and feel warm and cosy wherever you are: be it at the bus stop, in the country, or even shopping for more clothes. Why pay more for your coat now when next year you will be hankering for a new one?

From left Caroline wears grey herringbone single-breasted coat, pounds 180, and striped chenille polo-neck, pounds 70, both by French Connection, 99 Long Acre, London, WC2 (0171-580 2507); velvet floral maxi skirt, pounds 110, from Whistles, 27 Sloane Sq, London SW1 (enquiries: 0171-730 9819); ribbed tights, from a selection at Selfridges, Oxford St, London W1; shoes, pounds 20, from Greenwich market London, SE10

Erin wears camel wool full-length coat, pounds 120, from Principles, The Plaza, Oxford St, London W1 (enquiries 0171-927 1443); grey wool polo-neck jumper, pounds 64, by John Smedley from Harvey Nichols, Brompton Rd, London SW3 (enquiries: 0171-580 5075); long check skirt, pounds 60, from French Connection, as before.

Kerry wears black wool double-breasted full-length coat, pounds 120, from Bhs (for stockists call, 0171-262 3288); cream silk shirt, pounds 239, from Nicole Farhi, 158 New Bond St, London W1 (enquiries: 0171-499 8368); brown needlecord velour trousers, pounds 152, by Plein Sud from Whistles,as before; shoes, pounds 20 from Greenwich market, as before. Clara wears camel single-breasted coat with fake fur collar, pounds 140, from Marks & Spencer, selected branches nationwide (enquiries 0171-935 4422); rust chenille jumper, pounds 65, and maxi skirt, pounds 70, both by French Connection, as before; shoes, pounds 25, from The Emporium 330-332 Creek Rd, Greenwich, London SE10.

Ailsa wears camel double-breasted coat, pounds 160, by Nuage from selected branches of Debenhams (enquiries: 0171-408 4444); grey and lime green check trousers, pounds 95, from Whistles, as before

Left Grey wool double-breasted maxi-coat, pounds 200, and navy chenille V-neck sweater, pounds 65, both from French Connection, as before; jacquard wool trousers, pounds 240, .by Lawrence Steele from Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, London SW1(enquiries: 0171- 584 0011)

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Clara and Ailsa wear navy wool check coat, pounds 160, from French Connection, as before; caramel nylon top, pounds 15, brown check trousers, pounds 28, from a selection at the Emporium, as before; beige wool check coat, pounds 160, from French Connection, as before; grey wool trousers, pounds 125, from Joseph, 77 Fulham Rd, London SW3 (enquiries: 0171-629 4774) Hair by Adam Stohd

Make up by Shama Hadi

Models Erin, Caroline, Clara, Ailsa and Kerry all at Models 1.