Big shoulders, boots and leather – the key autumn/winter trends are not for the shy and retiring. Susannah Frankel introduces eight looks that make an impact

Shoulders so wide they would barely fit through the most ostentatious of boardroom doors. Colours so bright they might have made even Duran Duran in their heyday blush. Skirt suits, trouser suits, thigh-high boots, studded leather, lace and inky black velvet... If there is one word that sums up the mood of the forthcoming autumn/winter season then it is surely "power". Not since the 1980s has dressing to impress seemed so relevant, although the new power-dressing is a rather more multi-faceted beast than its Dynasty-inspired predecessor.

Of course, the last instance such an assertive view of femininity was seen was during boom-time. An equally direct and unashamedly status driven approach might not sit quite so well given the currently troubled economic climate. Is there a certain irony to be seen, then, in fashion's continuing love affair with the decade that subtlety forgot? Certainly that is part of the story. It is also true, though, that there are still those out there who enjoy wearing their wealth on their sleeve in a less questioning way and the trick is, presumably, to appeal to both sides.

With status certainly high on the agenda it should come as no surprise that referencing the mid-twentieth century and the glory days of haute couture in particular is also de rigueur. This side of the equation is more about the power of fashion than the woman wearing it, perhaps, but the end result remains beautifully fierce. Not only that but, with couture-inspired tailoring in particular being as prevalent as it now is, low-budget copies are rarely an option. There's nothing much less appealing than a cheap and cheerful jacket, after all, now as ever.

When times are hard, it seems only pragmatic to play it safe. Another aspect, then, of the new season's style is the attention to detail involved in making a statement with apparently classic clothing. Little black dresses, trench coats, borrowing from men's wear and more all loom large on the sartorial horizon but the difference (and indeed the devil) is in the detail here with each designer putting their individual stamp onto time-honoured wardrobe staples like never before.

When the going gets tough, the tough wear boots, be they thigh, knee, calf or ankle high, vertiginous or flat, biker or army style. The heroine of the season is rather too bolshy a creature to totter about town in spindly stilettos, after all. Leave that kind of behaviour to those clinging onto the arm of their husband/boyfriend/chauffeur.

Click on the image above to see the key autumn/winter trends.