There is only one Savile Row and there are only a privileged few who can afford to have every part of their anatomy measured to the nth degree so that their bespoke suit fits like a second skin. For the rest of us, there is the designer off-the-peg version that is remotely more affordable. And then there is the high street; buying a mass-produced suit is not a criminal offence. For some it is a means to an end, a way to look like a responsible human being in the workplace. For others a suit is just another fashion item, to be changed every season as often as a pair of shoes.
One of the best buys of the season is a chocolate satin trouser suit from Warehouse for under pounds 100. Both chocolate brown and shiny satin will have a limited shelf-life. But put them together and they are very "now" with a touch of understated glamour. Wear the trousers and jacket separately by day, and together, with a pair of strappy heels and fancy stockings, by night, and you will certainly get your money's worth between now and Christmas.
For something a little more formal, Joseph has a fine check suit in slate grey. For pounds 99 you can buy a pair of classic flat-fronted trousers cut generously enough to allow you to breathe. The curvy single-breasted jacket is a more substantial buy, but put the two together and you feel instantly taller and slimmer. Unlike the chocolate satin, this is a suit that will carry on until next spring and beyond.
Skirt suits are off the agenda right now. Trousers give a suit a much more streamlined, contemporary look. Don't worry if your legs are chunkier than you care to admit. The trouser shape to look for is straight, and long enough to skim a pair of high heels, essential if you want to make your suit look slinky and feminine.
If you happen to have a suit that was an investment buy a couple of years ago and that you are now bored to tears with, do not despair. For a quick and easy update, add a piece of stark silver jewellery and slip the jacket over one of the new-look one-shoulder jersey tops that are hanging precariously on shop rails up and down the country. The bold diagonal neckline will make your old suit look like a fashion statement rather than a long-term commitment
Above: Grey check suit, jacket, pounds 320, trousers, pounds 99; white boob tube with blue sunburst, pounds 55, all by Joseph, 26 Sloane Street, London SW1; silver tusk earrings, pounds 90, silver greyhound necklace, pounds 100, both from Detail, 4A Symons Street, London SW3, inquiries 0171-730 8488; grey mules, by Manolo Blanhik for Antonio Berardi, to order from Antonio Berardi, inquiries 0973 429983
Opposite page: Chocolate satin suit, jacket, pounds 55, trousers, pounds 40, by Warehouse, 19-21 Argyll Street, London W1 and branches nationwide; nude top, pounds 70, by Seraph at Ghost, 13 Hinde Street, London W1; black satin strappy shoes, pounds 125, by Russell & Bromley, 24-25 New Bond Street, London W1, inquiries 0171- 6296903; green seamed contrast tights, pounds 5.99, by Jonathan Aston, available from department stores nationwide Top left: Grey check suit, jacket, pounds 130, trouser, pounds 70 (not seen) by French Connection, 99 Long Acre, London WC2 and branches nationwide; black one shoulder top, pounds 34.99, by Morgan, 6B Bakers Arcade, 63 Kensington High Street, London W8; silver torque, pounds 50 and silver tusk earrings, pounds 90, both from Detail, as beforeReuse content