Never, never skimp on a coat. You will regret it. If you see something that you really like and can afford, buy it. I just bought my winter coat, a long cream boucle number from Nicole Farhi which cost pounds 600. Banish all thoughts of "Oh it's all right for her" from your mind. This was my first coat for 12 years, I had been making do with old fireman's jackets and big cardigans and lots of thermal vests. I deserve it. This year's look is either maxi or short and neat which gives plenty of scope; but keep it essentially simple - fake fur trim or a few military details. (I have to say that there is nothing nicer than a long snuggly coat, don't these girls with mini coats get cold knees?) If even the high street versions featured here are out of your price range then do visit your local army surplus store, where pure wool greatcoats of fantastic quality can be yours for not very much at all.

Main picture: black long military coat, pounds 160, Kookai, branches nationwide, tel: 0171 937 4411. Top left: camel three-quarter-length military coat, pounds 150, Warehouse branches nationwide, tel: 0171 278 3491. Brown patterned tights, pounds 22, Wolford from major department stores nationwide, tel: 0171 935 9202. Antiqued leather tan knee boots, pounds 175, Russell & Bromley, 24/25 New Bond Street, London W1 and branches, tel: 0171 629 6903. Left: black maxi coat with fur collar and cuffs, pounds 109.99, Oasis, 292 Regent Street, London W1 and branches nationwide, tel: 0171 377 5335. Purple sleevless polo neck sweater, pounds 29.99, Morgan, branches nationwide, tel: 0171 436 5255. Navy belted maxi skirt with side splits, pounds 155, John Richmond from Jones, Floral Street, London WC2, tel: 0171 240 8312 and John Richmond, Newburgh St, London W1, tel: 0171 978 5278. Black patterned tights, pounds 22, Wolford from major department stores nationwide, tel: 0171 935 9202. Black leather ankle boots, pounds 99.99, Ravel, 184-188 Oxford Street and branches nationwide, mail order and enquiries: 0171 631 0224.

Right: grey wool short coat, pounds 285, Whistles, 27 Sloane Square, London SW1 and branches, tel: 0171 730 9819. Multi-stripe polo neck, pounds 34.99, Kookai branches nationwide, tel: 0171 937 4411. Black hipster trousers, pounds 34.99, Jane Norman, branches nationwide, tel: 0171 437 0132.