Carola Long: 'Suddenly, heaping on mismatched layers in a bid to stay warm has become a look'

When the weather gets cold it's tempting to give up on fashion and dress like a farmer by slinging on a heavy wool coat, an oversized knit, and hiking boots with chunky walking socks. The good news is that with a few essential tweaks, something not far off this look is actually very much on-trend.

Naturally, said twists are critical in order to avoid looking like an extra from Last of the Summer Wine or a yummy mummy at an urban farmers' market in her 'rus in urbe' uniform of Barbour and Hunters. The key to pulling off the country look is embracing the artful eccentricity (see Topshop Unique, below) and cosy fabrics the British are renowned for, exemplified by the Mitford sisters in sensible heavy wool skirts and great coats, and by model Stella Tennant wearing tweeds and Fair Isle knits in a shoot for November's US Vogue. Then give it a modern twist with some mismatched layering and unexpected proportions.

For a start, try layering different textures and masculine and feminine influences to keep the look fresh. Instead of teaming jumpers with skinny jeans, try a shortish cable knit with a knee- or ankle-length tube skirt or a chiffon maxi, worn with flat boots. Hiking-inspired boots with a heel will make skinny jeans more interesting, especially with some chunky wool ankle socks.

When it comes to woollies, texture is key. Cashmere never goes out of fashion but chunky home-knitted finishes such as moss or garter stitch have the edge this season. The British company Grannies Inc ( granniesinc.co.uk) employs nimble-fingered grannies to knit accessories to order, while another company supporting the knitwear industry, and employing 'grannies', is The North Circular ( thenorthcircular.com). For a bit of definition with an oversized cardigan or masculine tweed coat, simply put one of this season's skinny belts over the top, as seen at Prada, or for a more casual look, and one that's taken hold among the fashion crowd, buckle the belt, then knot it once. Suddenly, heaping on mismatched layers in a bid to stay warm becomes a look.

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