The sun is shining but it's cold and breezy. You can't face the heavy coats and woolly tights again. So what do you wear? Tamsin Blanchard has some tips
It's that awkward time of year when you don't know whether to put on a thermal vest and a thick woolly jumper or a flimsy T-shirt and a pair of shorts. One thing is certain: the thought of wearing last winter's thick coat is deeply depressing.

This is the time for heavy coats to be banished to the back of the wardrobe, along with muddied boots and woolly tights. The problem is, what to wear in their place when the sun is shining but the wind is still cold. To save you the trouble, the Independent's fashion team went in search of jackets and coats to take us from spring into summer.

The popular choice, which has been picked up by all the high-street chains, is the Harrington, a simple, lightweight zip-fronted jacket that has become as far removed from its Sixties mod and scooter roots as it possibly could. French Connection has used the shape for suiting and is also selling a casual drill style with a checked lining. Our favourite version, however, costs under pounds 40 from The Gap and is available in red or green check. It is close-fitting and cropped and is best worn with a dress or a T-shirt and a pair of lean trousers.

If you don't want your shirt tails to be hanging down below your jacket, there are lots of easy-to-wear rain macs around that can be thrown over a suit and still look cool and efficient. Liberty's own label has one in red cotton, white pique or navy nylon for pounds 159 . And to make life really easy, there is a dress to match. For the best value, we chose a showerproof cotton mac by the mail-order company Racing Green. It comes in red, cream or blue and in sizes 8 to 18. The price is pounds 89. For a more structured and tailored look, Ally Capellino has a fitted waxed cotton coat with a half belt at the back.

The other option is a crease-proof nylon coat - eminently practical because it can be rolled up and stuffed into a bag when the rain eases and the wind stops blowing. Ally Capellino's Hearts of Oak nylon macs sell for pounds 95 and are popular every spring. French Connection has a shiny nylon military-style trenchcoat with a fabric belt that will keep the rain away. Just beware of static electricity. And if you demand practicality rather than fashion, there is always a good old-fashioned kagoul. Check out your nearest camping shop and look for something bright and light.

RIGHT: White rubberised cotton mac, pounds 374, and grey shot twill sailor trousers, pounds 224, and knitted grey sleeveless top, pounds 185, all from Ally Capellino, 95 Wardour Street, London W1

OPPOSITE, TOP: Green check Harrington, pounds 38, from The Gap, branches nationwide, 0171-518 6300; pale green knitted short sleeve sweater, pounds 45, by French Connection, 249 Regent Street, London W1, and branches nationwide, 0171- 580 2507; cream bootleg stretch hipsters, pounds 95, by Whistles, 27 Sloane Square, London SW1 and 9 Highstreet, Oxford, 0171-730 9819

OPPOSITE, CENTRE: grey double breasted nylon mac, pounds 110, and black stretch hipster trousers, pounds 60, by French Connection, as before; red sleeveless roll neck sweater, pounds 175, by Plein Sud, from Whistles, as before, and Le Coin, Brompton Cross, London SW7

OPPOSITE, BOTTOM: Red unstructured cotton mac, pounds 89, order number BK471, mail order from Racing Green, 0345 331177; white Irish linen shift dress, pounds 273, by Ally Capellino, as before; three silver rings, pounds 30 each, by Wright & Teague, from Liberty, branches nationwide, and Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, London SW1, 0171-336 8633.

Photographer: Heather Favell

Stylist: Jo Adams assisted by Jill Wanless

Hair and make-up: Beverly Brooke at Bramwell O'Donnell using Molton Brown

Model: Caroline Wood at Storm