Last month I took my sister to Dundrum Town Centre to help her choose some key pieces for the new season. About a week ago, a letter arrived from her credit card provider saying they'd noticed some "unusual activity" on her card and had blocked it. That unusual activity was the several hundred euro she spent in clothes stores that day.
My sister really dislikes shopping for clothes (shopping for furniture is a totally different matter, however; that would not have been perceived as unusual activity!). She loves to look well, but she hates doing the legwork.
It's a cliché that all women like to shop. I have three sisters, none of whom enjoy shopping (I try to tell them how lucky they are to have me...). It can feel overwhelming, become tiring and alienating and eventually depressing if you leave empty-handed and frazzled. And the less said about changing room mirrors and lighting the better. You've got to be fairly robust to avoid having your spirits squashed by those harsh realities.
So if, like my sister, you want to look the part without doing the legwork, here are four key pieces to anchor your autumn/winter that you can buy online. I've chosen stores that offer good quality pieces that will last you this season and well beyond, as well as brands that design realistic sizes for real women.
A midi skirt
My sister ordered this skirt and it arrived yesterday. It's stunning. The fabric falls beautifully, the fit is true to size and it's the perfect midi length, which always looks elegant.
Navy satin wrap skirt, €109 at finerylondon.com
A white shirt
If you're buying a white shirt for the new season, choose one that has a point of difference. This Cos shirt has lovely tiered detailing, which will set it apart from other, more traditional, button fronts.
Scallop trim layered shirt, €69 at Cos
A cashmere knit
Invest in a good cashmere knit in a neutral shade that will pair with a variety of other colours. Polo necks always look great in winter, but they're particularly popular this year.
Cashmere roll neck, €335 at lucynagle.com
A wool coat
I bought a good-quality grey wool coat for about the same price as this one ten years ago, and I'm still wearing it every winter. It has worn so well, and it always feels like new when I pull it out of the wardrobe every September.
Double-sided wool coat, €425 at Sandro