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VOGUE RECOMMENDS - Ellie Pithers, Fashion Features Editor of British Vogue, showcases her favourite winter looks

As part of our Stories of Style events, Vogue's Fashion Features Editor Ellie Pithers went to John Lewis Leeds to show us how to build a winter wardrobe  – in six easy steps.

I love autumn dressing. Give me corduroy and cashmere, coats and boots, body-swamping scarves and deliciously thick sweaters over flimsy summer dresses and slapping sandals any day. In this country, it’s financially prudent to invest in those pieces, too – why blow the budget on printed flamenco-hem skirts when you'll only wear them for two weeks of the year?  Here are your six key building blocks for a smart autumn wardrobe, and how to wear them.


This season is a particularly good one for coats. There are multiple styles on the catwalks – patent leather, brocade and feather-trimmed – that lend themselves to being worn indoors, we're calling it ‘the cocktail coat’ at Vogue, but if you're looking for function and finesse, I'd invest in a checked coat. From houndstooth to windowpane, Prince of Wales to tartan, heritage checks come in multiple guises this season and they bring instant polish to jeans and a sweater at the weekend, or over a black shift dress for work.


Silk, a huge trend on the autumn catwalks, hardly screams ‘cosy’. But hear me out. British weather is unpredictable. This time last year I recall we were happily settling back into tights and down-filled puffer jackets, only for December to break into sunshine so unseasonably warm we had no option but to pull them all off again.  It makes perfect sense to invest in a silk slip dress or midi skirt – it’s the kind of easy transitional piece that you'll find yourself reaching for time and again.

"I have amassed a strong collection of investment coats and I pull them on like old friends..."

Ellie Pithers, Fashion Features Editor of British Vogue


A classic cream jumper is something I wear all year round – ribbed fisherman styles and polo necks are some of my favourites – but this season you can afford to go more cereal: think on the spectrum of oatmeal, biscuity beige, and bran brown and you can’t go wrong. Softer on the skin than black or navy and more trend-resistant than brighter colours such as apple green or red, Modern Rarity has the monopoly on these cereal shades.


I loathe the word ‘coatigan’, but that’s what the blanket coat essentially is, and it’s the secret weapon in many a well-dressed woman’s wardrobe.  When John Lewis launched Modern Rarity, it included a number of Italian coatigans in a lightweight wool in the offering, which are perfect for layering. The key is to look for tailored, slim shapes that don’t swamp the body, preferably double faced (without a lining) – and to cinch with a belt if everything is looking a little on the bulky side.

"The key to styling a coatigan is to look for tailored, slim shapes that don’t swamp the body – and to cinch with a belt if everything is looking a little on the bulky side."

Ellie Pithers, Fashion Features Editor of British Vogue


Thigh-high boots were seen on all the autumn catwalks, but if they feel a little too hardcore for you, opt for a knee-high or just over-the-knee length. Steer towards a slouchier cut, like the tan AND/OR pair, rather than skin-tight, as it’s kinder on the ankles and knees and balances the proportions of a chunky knit and a slim silk skirt better.

Jewellery is still an important catwalk story and earrings are everywhere, bigger and bolder than ever, so don’t shy away from letting esoteric designs act as sartorial ice-breakers.  Looking ahead to Christmas, the Vogue girls will be frosted all over with rhinestones – and Perspex and acetate styles are also back on the style agenda.