Counting sheep

A few years ago, I bought a sheepskin jacket. It cost me a fortune (and my social life for about two months). But it was worth it; not only is sheepskin incredibly warm and luxurious, but this season it's also very much back in fashion.

The biggest problem with sheepskin remains the cost. Even on the high street, coats tend to start at around the pounds 400 mark, way out-pricing the average winter jacket. On the other hand, a good sheepskin will last you for years, largely because it's immune to the vagaries of fashion - so whether you buy floor- or knee-length, black or cream, the odds are it will become a perennial in your wardrobe.

Particularly flattering for this season is Jigsaw's side-fastening floor-sweeping cream sheepskin coat (also available in brown and black). At pounds 795 it's not cheap, but it's amazing quality. If that bursts your budget then look at French Connection's sheepskin hooded sweater - it looks fantastic with a long skirt if you want to create this year's folksy look or just a simple pair of jeans, and it's half the price. If times are hard, think about the faux option: Oasis, Warehouse and River Island all have synthetic imitations that look and feel - well - similar, but they're a fraction of the price.

A word of caution: think carefully before buying light-coloured sheepskin. Specialist dry-cleaners charge around pounds 80 per item, and this is not a material you can risk DIY maintenance with. Your sheepskin is for life, not just for Christmas, so make sure you've got the budget to care for it.

Camel sweater (sizes 8-14), pounds 85, Amaya Arzuaga, Selfridges, 400 Oxford St, London W1 (tel: 0171 935 9393). Brown sheepskin gilet, pounds 150, Hobbs, 84-88 Kings Rd, London SW3 (tel: 0171 586 5550). Fawn skirt, (sizes 6-12), pounds 193, Krizia, 25 Conduit St, London W1 (tel: 0171 491 4987)

Above left: Brown sheepskin jacket (sizes s-l), pounds 1,250, and sweater, pounds 345, The Scotch House, 2 Brompton Rd, London SW1 (tel: 0171 581 2151). Fawn skirt, Krizia (details left). Boots (sizes 3-8), pounds 125, Russell & Bromley, 24-25 New Bond St, London W1 (tel: 0171 629 6903)

Above: Cream hooded sheepskin top (sizes 8-14), pounds 350, French Connection, 249 Regent Street, London W1 (tel: 0171 399 7200). Grey hand-knitted skirt (sizes s-m), pounds 96, Jigsaw, 91-95 Fulham Road, London SW3 (tel: 0171 589 9530)

Oatmeal handknitted poncho (one size), pounds 98, Jigsaw, 91-95 Fulham Road, London SW3. 39-43 King Street, Manchester (tel: 0171 589 9530).

Sheepskin skirt (sizes 8-12), pounds 600. Leather embossed boots (sizes 4-7), pounds 200, both Sportmax, 32 Sloane Street, London, SW1 (tel: 0171 287 3434)

Orange cardigan (sizes 1-3), pounds 59.95, Jigsaw, as before. Orange sheepskin jacket (sizes 8-14), pounds 890, Burberry, 165 Regent St, London W1 (tel: 00800 28723779). Cream wool skirt (sizes 8-16), pounds 149, Nicole Farhi (details right). Suede boots (sizes 3-7), pounds 125, Russell & Bromley (as before)

Long sheepskin coat (sizes 1-3), pounds 795, Jigsaw, as before. Tweed trousers (sizes 8-16), pounds 199, Nicole Farhi, 158 New Bond Street, London W1 (tel: 0171 499 8368). Cow print shoes (sizes 3-8), pounds 115, Russell & Bromley, 24-25 New Bond Street, London W1 (tel: 0171 629 6903)

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