Fashion: Before the fall

Ponchos, party tops and no pashminas - the definitive guide to autumn fashion
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Indy Lifestyle Online
It's autumn once again - in terms of shop stock anyway. Over the coming weeks we'll be focusing on the various looks for the new season in more detail but this week we bring you six pieces that will instantly update last year's wardrobe.

First, the big story: green is this year's black. This isn't half as bad as it sounds since mid- to dark-green - the shades that are particularly dans - are fairly easy to wear. Unfortunately, orange is also in, although it's not as in as green. Nevertheless, I have a feeling the real fashion die-hards will go for orange just because it is so much harder to wear. The simple tab-collar leather biker jacket that was so popular last season makes it through to another, with tan being the colour to go for (don't make the mistake of going for green, this would be disastrous. I do hope you're keeping up). If you find the pounds 200 French Connection version pictured too expensive, then look no further than New Look which has done the cheapest version I can find at pounds 60.

Knitwear goes big and chunky, which is great news for those who like to knit their own but bad news for the more rotund. There's nothing like a big knit to make you feel like you're hiding from the world when actually it just makes you look larger than ever. It's doubly bad news for those with bosoms: chunky knits just fall from your bust to give you a very unattractive bell-like silhouette. I'm not saying you can't wear them - I fully intend to - just be aware. It's fine to go for your knits in green though.

Boots - animal print ones especially - will be very big news. In fact animal print anything will be pretty standard issue. Yawn. It was with us last season, and the season before that. It's changed a bit - zebra is particularly in rather than the golden hues of a tiger or leopard - but I still think it's a sad old look (on humans) that just makes it seem like you're trying too hard. Thankfully there isn't a green animal print so the green issue isn't a problem here.

The girly look is still with us and the Top Shop ruffle top - sweet without being sickly - is one of my all-time favourites. Snap it up now for the party season before they sell out. Lastly a warning: ponchos are the new pashminas. They never made sense the first time and they still don't but they're a bit of harmless fun. Come Christmas, however, they will start to look really dated so unless you have more money than you know what to do with, avoid the designer versions (there's really no need anyway since every high street shop has done a fabulous version.) Whatever you do, do not wear your poncho with a cowboy hat.

Captions: Clockwise from right:

Ivory sleeveless chunky-knit sweater (sizes 8-14), pounds 270, Strenesse, Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London SW1 (tel: 0171 287 6767). Pale beige satin puffball skirt (sizes 10-16), pounds 35, River Island, 124 Kensington High Street, London W8. 47-49 Regents Crescent, Trafford Centre, Manchester (tel: 0181 991 4759). Grey embroidered mules (sizes 3-8), pounds 19.99, Carvela, Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London SW1. Kendals, Deansgate, Manchester (tel: 0171 546 1888).

Striped poncho (one size), pounds 49.99, Morgan, 393 Oxford Street, London, W1. Trafford Centre, 129 Regent Crescent, Manchester (tel: 0171 383 2888). Beige wool drawstring trousers (sizes s,m,l), pounds 70, French Connection, 249 Regent Street, London W1. 53 Albion Street, Leeds (tel: 0171 399 7200).

Olive stitched sleeveless top (sizes s,m,l), pounds 55, Whistles, 12 Saint Christopher's Place, London W1. House of Fraser, 2 Union Road, Nottingham (tel: 0171 487 4484). Cream wool skirt (sizes 8-16), pounds 35, Warehouse, 19-21 Argyle Street, London W1. 30 King Street, Manchester (tel: 0171 278 3491). Black/cream zebra boots (sizes 3-8), pounds 345, Russell & Bromley, 24-25 New Bond Street, London W1 (tel: 0171 629 6903).

Sheer pink ruffle top (sizes 8-14), pounds 30, Top Shop, 214 Oxford Street, London W1. Trafford Centre, Manchester. (tel: 0800 7318284).

Tan leather biker jacket (sizes s,m,l), pounds 200, French Connection, 249 Regent Street, London W1. 53 Albion Street, Leeds (tel: 0171 399 7200). Orange polo neck sweater (sizes 8-14), pounds 225, cream moleskin trousers (sizes 8-14), pounds 205, both by Strenesse, Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London SW1 (tel: 0171 287 6767).

Green/cream striped sweater (sizes 8-14), pounds 35, Top Shop, 214 Oxford Street, London W1. The Forte Shopping Centre, Birmingham. (tel: 0800 7318284). Green cotton puffball skirt (sizes 8-16), pounds 35, both by Warehouse, 19-21 Argyll Street, London W1. 30 King Street, Manchester. (tel: 0171 278 3491).

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