Harriet Walker picks the essential pieces to see you through the season ahead

The tailored trousers

It's the season of the trouser, though it might seem facile to point this out. Tailored styles aren't just for the office either – whether flared, wide of leg, narrow or peg-cut, try them with a T-shirt for a modern take on the Garçonne, or with a retro blouse for a workwear remix.

£89, Reiss, www.reissonline.com

The playful party dress

Not all party dresses need to look like they came from the 'Eastenders' wardrobe department. Alber Elbaz, creative director at ultra-luxe French house Lanvin, has created a range of frilly and feminine pieces for H&M, so you can break hearts without breaking the bank.

Available from 23 November, £99, H&M, www.hm.com

The sophisticated skirt

Longer-length midi skirts and voluptuous A-line silhouettes, as seen at Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and Prada, are one of the strongest looks of the season and range in their intensity from Fifties prom-queen prettiness to more demure

Seventies-inspired numbers. Try terribly current camel shades on your bottom half, rather than a ubiquitous coat, and wear with the chunkiest, geekiest and fluffiest over-the-knee socks you can find – rolled down to reveal an inch or two of leg, of course. It's the latest take on ladylike.

£45, Topshop, www.topshop.com

The versatile boot

Not only are wedge ankle boots the height of chic this season, they're also tremendously easy to walk in. And with shearling a major catwalk trend for autumn, the cuff detail on these is a subtle way to be fuzzy without going overboard; team with grey tights and a shirt dress, or with peg trousers.

£75, Urban Outfitters, www.urbanoutfitters.com

The minimalist coat

Picking a winter coat can be as difficult as buyinga house (no, really), so choose one that ticks plenty of sartorial boxes. This powder-blue cocoon from COS is brilliantly minimal without being too stark – the soft shade brightens things up a little and the geometric yoke detail adds interest.

£129, COS, www.cosstores.com

The non-traditional blouse

Belgian designer Ann Demeulemeester is known for peppering formal tailoring with ingenious structural details; this blouse owes more to a biker jacket than it does to a boring old shirt. Vibrant crimsons were a big trend on the autumn catwalks, and this is the perfect way to introduce it to your wardrobe, without looking too 'scarlet woman'.

£565, Ann Demeulemeester, www.brownsfashion.com

The aviator hat

More shearling – this time to protect your lugs. Fluffy aviator jackets are all over the place, but don't be a sheep: instead, look for smatterings of the stuff across quirky accessories. This hat from Swedish label of the moment, Acne, is a bit Amelia Earhart – but all the more lovely for that.

£285, Acne, www.acnestudios.com

The staple shoes

The chatter from the shows was all about flat shoes, but nothing beats a pair of heels for special occasions. These manage to combine sophisticated understatement with a trendy, graphic shape – and they're reliably sturdy too.

£255, Elizabeth and James, www.net-a-porter.com

The quiet It-bag

There's no easier way to date your look than to cling on to your brassy, blinged-up handbags. The champion this season is the humble box bag, as pioneered by Phoebe Philo at Céline, a framed affair with a subtle clasp. Roomy they ain't, so leave the kitchen sink at home.

£70, Asos, www.asos.com

The boyfriend jumper

All hail the sloppy sweater, the lazy fashion fan's winter saviour. There's something unutterably cool about slinging on a grey knit that doesn't really fit – it invokes Parisian nonchalance and is brilliantly low maintenance.

£75, Gap, www.gap.com

The practical pencil skirt

The pencil skirt is a timeless classic, but this season's updates come in autumnal shades of khaki and tobacco. This version also helpfully comes with a bit of stretch in it too, so you won't have any trouble climbing stairs or sitting down.

£85, Whistles, whistles.co.uk