Carola Long: 'The high street is now doing aviator jackets'

Yes, of course it would be nice to live in a more timely fashion world where we didn't have to consider buying coats before October. It would also be lovely to park right outside Topshop Oxford Circus on a Saturday and find the changing rooms empty. Dream on. The reality is that fashion is always two steps ahead and if you don't grab one of the best jackets or coats post-haste, you're dicing with disappointment.

The key jacket of the season emerged in February, when the fashion crowd swooned with desire at the sight of Burberry's chunky sheepskin flying jackets. Christopher Kane's sexy interpretation of the aviator came in patent black leather embroidered with flowers, and Topshop Unique, Philip Lim and Etro all showed versions of the trend. It's this autumn's update on the biker, but there's still plenty of life left in that style, provided it's not covered in studs and hardware. Not all the aviators in the shops are of the full Amelia Earhart sheepskin variety; many are essentially leather bikers with a furry collar.

Burberry might boast the 'It' jackets but they come with a price tag of around £2,000. Acne's sheepskin and leather styles are also particularly covetable – but again, not technically a snip at £1,080 and £711 respectively, although the moleskin version is £443 – so much so that mywardrobe.com had calls and waiting lists for them before they even went live on the site. The good news for anyone not in the 50 per cent tax bracket is that there are lots of desirable aviators on the high street and leather will improve with age, rather than looking tired and cheap.

The bad news is that they will sell out fast. Whistle's understated brown leather aviator (£325) has just hit stores and is likely to be snapped up (although it will be replenished) and Topshop has some great styles from chunky sheepskin to bikers with faux fur collars passing themselves off as aviators. (A wolf in sheepskin clothing, so to speak.) Asos has lots of versions but its aviator by Asos Revive (out in September, £350, right) has a staggering waiting list of 400 people. Get in now to give your autumn wardrobe a flying start.

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