As the big chill encroaches, the time has come for the great autumn winter wardrobe overhaul.
My weekend rummaging unearthed plenty of gaps, missing favourite sweaters (how!) and a serious need for a new staple shoe (trusty Adidas will not take us year round again, I fear). If your failsafe fashion friends are also looking shabby, here is the 2023 ammunition you need to get through autumn and beyond:
How do you pull off composure when your luggage has been lost by an airline? A host of boot-faced editors and influencers attending Milan Fashion Week found themselves asking this season. Answer: flock to Uniqlo and buy a great pair of dark denim jeans and a trusty white tee. Nudie Jeans is a go-to, while for Marlon Brando-esque T-shirts head to Arket, Gap and FatFace (rogue, but I can recommend them). Those wanting to elevate should look to swap out jeans for leather slacks — such as John Lewis’s tempting pair, at £225.
Clean Eileen Heavy Rinse, £125, nudiejeans.com
White T-shirt, Arket.com
Black leather trousers, £225, Johnlewis.com
Ditch your Adidas trainers to smarten up
As a committed member of the Adidas Gazelle, Spezial and Samba stomping army, this comes through gritted teeth: Keir Starmer’s go-to has started to lose its shine. As we move towards winter, shelve them and consider smartening up. A classic penny loafer should be your first port of call — try Dune, Russell & Bromley or GH Bass. If you want compliments, look to Duke + Dexter for a statement; its two-toned styles and Playboy collaboration are a much coveted hit. Dreading stepping into last year’s hard-worn stompers? Try a sleeker riding boot; & Other Stories and Uniqlo deliver on this front. They work for art school and the office.
Duke + Dexter
Playboy 1975 Cover Penny Loafer, £260, dukeanddexter.com
& Other Stories
Leather riding boots, £229, stories.com
Ahoy! Navy fisherman’s sweaters
Jean Paul-Gaultier’s Breton-striped sailors are the perennial summer pin-up but welcome the hard-wearing fisherman as inspiration for tougher months. On the autumn/winter ’23 catwalks, they were everywhere; led by Sir Ian McKellen, who was dressed as one for SS Daley’s show. The easiest route to the look is a thick-knitted, navy Aran sweater. Cos has one to covet; looks like a Royal Navy pullover, is conveniently 100 per cent cashmere. Or splurge on one the extra-weighty styles from Studio Nicholson. If you’re feeling flamboyant, like Sir Ian was on the catwalk, add a navy neckerchief for added wow-factor.
Chunky pure cashmere crew neck jumper, £200, cos.com
Aire knit, £425, studionicholson.com
Heavy knit wool jumper, £77, Arket.com
It’s trench time (again)
If you thought 2023 would bring the death knell for the humble trench, think again. Not only has Burberry doubled down on a mass revamp, but the fashion pack is following suit. During September's fashion month, there was hardly an editor not bundled in calf-length, shower-proof wrap-around. Dispel images of Inspector Gadget or encounters with flashers; there are myriad elegant options on offer. Mango has elevated the traditional cut, trading the typical gabardine for sumptuous-looking cream wool, while Aligne’s Gilda trench is well cut and, at £189, a fraction of the price of the luxury houses. Gen-Z will flock to Weekday, whose corduroy collar, waxed, grey coat hits the right Matrix notes.
“The trench is the perfect transitional investment – we are seeing them on the SS24 runways in abundance,” says Liane Wiggins, Head of Womenswear at Matches. “The Row just showed beautiful fluid silhouettes during the show in Paris which is leaving me craving investing in more and upping my trench game. Jil Sander showed some great technical ones too and in general they are the best lightweight, easy to wear outerwear investments.”
Wool coat with handmade belt, £199.99, mango.com
Gilda maxi trench coat mustang, £189, aligne.co
Jones waxed coat, £140, weekday.com
The oxblood bag
It is the colour set to sweep the field in the coming seasons. Already a staple for Loewe and The Row’s leather goods, the rich shade has now been chosen by Gucci’s new designer Sabato De Sarno as “ancora”, the refreshed house colour. Time to invest. The best on the high street come courtesy of JW Pei and Kate Spade, also note burgundy Vivienne Westwood options, around the £230 mark. If there was an area to splash on, however, make it the bag: the rest of the outfit will be elevated instantly.
Joy shoulder bag deep claret, £89, jwpei.co.uk
Burgundy granny frame bag, £230, ssense.com
The town and country blazer
Bring some Vale of Belvoir country to city looks with a simple sleek tweed jacket. It has now — with thanks to M&S’ latest campaign — got Sienna Miller’s approval, and it’s already cropped up on the party scene; see Heartstopper star Yasmin Finney, who paired her boxy blazer with a sequin micro-mini at Annabel’s 60th anniversary party. Miller’s Sparks style is a respectable £75, while Mango offers a well-tailored, houndstooth version for £89.99. Anyone after an upgrade should look to Reiss’s camel and black, double-breasted jacket.
Lapel houndstooth suit blazer, £89.99, mango.com
Marks & Spencer
Tweed relaxed check blazer, £75, marksandspencer.com
Ella doublebreasted blazer, £298, reiss.com
The box-pleat kilt
If there’s one rule to remember this winter, it’s that separates are king. When it comes to skirt shopping, the kilt has taken precedence — in part, due to the London-based and booming, carabiner kilt makers Chopova Lowena. Theirs are a riot of clashing prints (and triple digit price tags), not for the faint of heart. Mixing box-pleated, midi-length skirts into the wardrobe is the entry-level to get in on the Highland action. Find them asymmetric — see Cos’s pinstriped offering — or more traditional, such as Boden’s very wearable taffeta skirts.
Asymmetric pinstripe wool skirt, £110, cos.com
Taffeta pull-on midi skirt, £85, boden.co.uk
Hacks from the street style set
A fresh season needn’t mean buying new; just look to the street style cognoscenti who descended on Paris in October as proof. Their top tricks to style up a basic outfit this season are simple. First, white socks (go no further than Sports Direct) are a quick-fire investment. Wear them with your loafers (a la Michael Jackson circa 1988) or stilettos for evenings out. Indian summers Europe-wide have delayed the beginning of sweater season; instead, jumpers have been tied around necks or — better yet — the shoulders, if you can master the knot. And the winning recipe for influencers grafting for paparazzi attention? Just add a tie to your button-up shirt.
The new Hackney Dad shacket
The Carhartt dad — yes, he who shops at Village Organic and dines at Silo — is an oft-spotted fellow. As much as their jackets might be cliché, this year’s flurry of utilitarian or quilted shackets prove that they might be onto something. For men, Massimo Dutti’s army-esque jacket has off-kilter pockets to give a tired classic added chutzpah, while Sezane’s Will jacket, plus matching skirt (we love its new burgundy tartan quilted iteration) is a must-have for women. And for all genders, the high street is flooded with denim iterations well-worth a try; from Cos and Zara to Sandro and Claudie Pierlot.
Utility jacket studio, £249, massimodutti.com
Will Jacket, Ivan burgundy tartan, £155, sezane.com
Wool blend jacket, £200, cos.com
Not your grandad’s cardigan
Swerve the dusty, argyle-knitted cardis this year and bet on jolly, geometric patterns for an always needed shot of colour. ICECREAM are a leader in the funky knitwear. Founded by Pharrell Williams and Kenzo’s creative director Nigo, the brand offers them covered in cobalt blue jigsaw pieces, cow prints and, naturally, popsicles. For more sophistication, Séfr is the minimalist Swedish label stocked at Matches, while the United Colors of Benetton have every block colour you might need.
Icecream Jigsaw cardigan, £125, endclothing.com
Jurg snake-print brushed cardigan, £70, matchesfashion.com
United Colors of Benetton
Crew neck cardigan in merino wool, £69.95, benetton.com
The wrong shoe theory…
First comes the mocking and the memeing — then comes their accidental acceptance. This season, three objectively hideous items of footwear are in a breakneck race to secure their place as fashionable. Enter JW Anderson’s tongue-in-cheek Wellipets; slip-on, adult versions of the frog Wellington boots. Crocs have paired up with streetwear brand Aries to create) platform hiker clogs complete with amethysts, snail shells and magic mushroom shoe charms, while Ugg has a similar height part-suede, part-neoprene stompers seen on Emily Ratajkowski and Cardi B. Would you dare?
JW Anderson x Wellipets
JW Anderson x Wellipets frog PVC clogs, £370, selfridges.com
Crocs x Aries
Crocs x Aries classic hiker xscape clog, £85, endclothing.com
UGG Classic Dipper Suede Platform Boots, £170, anthropologie.com