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Trouser suits are one of the best things to have come out of the Seventies. Today they are pared down, both in silhouette and in detail - no massive flares or embroidered dragons down the leg a la Jimmy Page. Two things tend to worry women about trouser suits, that they will look too masculine, or look too Eighties and career-womany. The tendency is to avoid the first by teaming the suit with an obviously feminine blouse - maybe something frilly - or a sexy bustier; and to avoid the second by dressing the suit down, with plimsoles for example. These are all ghastly and dated ideas. A trouser suit is best kept simple and stylish and worn with a modest shirt, plain or printed, or a plain knit sweater. Footwear should be loafers, strappy heels, or - best of all - stacked heeled ankle boots.

Main photograph: Single-breasted long-line grey cavalry twill jacket, pounds 152, and matching slim trousers, pounds 75, Jigsaw branches nationwide (tel: 0171 491 4484). Black suede ankle boots, Russell & Bromley branches nationwide (tel: 0171 629 6903).

Right, top: Long-line beige jacket, pounds 130, matching trousers with self-fabric silver buckle belt, pounds 69, and black/beige print shirt, pounds 49.99, all Kookai branches nationwide (tel: 0171 937 4411). Tan leather bag with faux tortoiseshell link shoulder strap, pounds 135, Russell & Bromley branches nationwide (tel: 0171 629 6903).

Right: Brown crepe single breasted jacket, pounds 74.99, matching wide legged trousers, pounds 39.99 and brown chenille cropped V-neck sweater, pounds 24.99 all from Oasis, 292 Regent Street, London W1 and branches nationwide (tel: 0171 377 5335). Silver chain link belt, pounds 39 from Fenwick, New Bond Street, London W1 (tel: 0171 629 9161).

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