Fashion: Walk this way

Shawl collar sheepskin coat, �895, from
Shawl collar sheepskin coat, �895, from
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As the New Year begins, head for the great outdoors in cosy style with pieces to see you through winter. Stephanie Smith has tips on what to look out for.

The fairy lights are starting to annoy now, especially those ones that twinkle on and off, slowly and incessantly. The lights that are still working, that is, because half of them gave up during Christmas. But soon it will be time for the tree to come down and so none of that will matter any more. Sigh.

There is inevitably something rather glum surrounding the first few days of the New Year, once the hangover has faded and reality dawns – the home is a mess, the bank balance is woeful, the weight has piled on and there’s nothing to look forward to but perishing wind and icy rain for months and months.

Still, as bitter as it is, there is an overwhelming urge to get outdoors, affecting even those of us who usually complain if we have to walk more than 10 yards from the car into the supermarket. Days, even weeks, of being cooped up indoors with family, extended family and the haunting carcass of a once proud turkey have taken their toll. We will have fresh air, whatever it takes.

The process of emerging into winter can be made all the more easy and enticing by bringing style into the equation, dressing head to toe in clothing and accessories that offer protection, comfort and cosiness, but which also look great and, importantly, are easy to move in.

No wonder we don’t want to spend much time outdoors if all we’ve got to wear is layers of huge moth-eaten old knits over jeans (which aren’t really suitable for outdoor walks), all topped off with a gigantic ill-fitting inherited mac that makes us look like Alan Bennett’s van lady.

Think of buying beautiful outdoor clothing as an investment in your health and wellbeing – and if you can pick up pieces in the sales, so much the better.

Sheepskin and shearling are perfect for chic outdoor dressing, tactile, cosy and soft, yet not too bulky, with a luxurious feel and finish that seems to work with whatever you team it with. Companies such as Westmorland Sheepskin and Celtic and Co have great, well-cut luxe pieces. Ugg, which has a store in the Victoria Quarter in Leeds, has excellent (and cute) sheepskin accessories including ear muffs both with and without earphones.

Knitwear is of course a winter essential. Barbour is well known for its protective countrywear, and we all love its quilting, but it also has rather fantastic knit pieces, with great colours, and many not so thick that they make you feel hot and uncomfortable under your outerwear.

Take a look also at what Needle Boutique has to offer (they are at Susan Gaunt in Harrogate, Upstairs Downstairs in Ripon and online at Anthropologie, plus it has its own website), and also Montana Country Collection. It’s always worth checking out what cashmere companies such as Pure Collection of Harrogate and Johnston’s of Elgin have, especially at sale time.

There’s Cordings of Piccadilly too, newly opened in Harrogate, but also with an online store. They deserve a special mention not least for their women’s boots, which are the most wonderful blend of the practical meets the super-gorgeous. Makes you long to head for the Dales.

So, it’s time to get to get out there in style. First stop, the sales.

* Please note that some items may now be subject to sales conditions.