£1,295, Miu Miu a/w12

With structured doctors' bags in vogue this season, it's never been nicer to take your medicine

Those who decry fashion as impractical nonsense would do well to familiarise themselves with the selection of functional handbags that appeared for autumn/winter.

With a capacity that would put Mary Poppins to shame, oversized doctors' style bags appeared on the catwalk, well platform, of Louis Vuitton's golden age of rail-inspired collection – complete with personal porters to carry them.

Elsewhere, Miuccia Prada matched Seventies tailoring with practical, stiff-handled frame bags in mustard, brown and green at Miu Miu, while at Prada black and purple versions were made from crystal embellished satin or high-shine luxurious leather.

Not just on the catwalks, the handbag collections of Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen and Yves Saint Laurent all offer structured bags, which thanks to high-quality leather, ladylike detailing and sturdy frames will last if you're looking for an investment piece. And this is a trend worth investing in – the shape returns in the resort pieces which arrive in store soon to bridge the gap between the traditional autumn/winter and spring/summer collections. Marni's resort collection includes a crystal-embellished top-handled version.

Of course, replicating the look on the high street is easy with a host of ladylike styles from which to choose. Crystals and embellishments are perhaps best avoided though, with a lower standard of production high-street bags may shed their sparkle with speed and you'll end up with a bag that looks tired and dated, and not in a retro way. Instead, keep things relatively simple – coloured leather will see you through until spring, while black versions will be perennially popular.