As the weather gets colder there's one wardrobe essential that's top of our shopping list: a cosy piece of knitwear. And this season the options are endless, with brights and bold slogans, cashmere and cable knits falling from the catwalks - the only question really is where to start. So Easy Living turned to personal stylist Beth Goodrham, who is also a fashion blogger (Style Guile is an EL online daily read - bookmark it now!) and the first ever winner of our monthly School Runway competition to tell us her top six knitwear buys this autumn. Beth, over to you...
With conkers on the ground, and Halloween and Bonfire Night approaching, I have romantic notions of long walks, hot chocolate and snuggling up by the fire. Naturally, the reality is about as diametrically opposed from the image in my head as can be, but we can all dream can't we? I imagine what I am likely to be wearing in these fantasy scenarios and this inevitably includes knitwear.
Years ago, there was pretty much one style of jumper (two, if you include tank tops) with three styles of neck: round neck, v-neck and polo neck. Really that was about it, until ponchos came along in the 1970s... Wow! What a revelation they were!
Now the choice is endless. Stripes, spots, hearts, animal print or cartoon characters? Embellished, sheer, or bright? Cropped or full length? Raglan, bat-wing, or three-quarter sleeve? The list goes on, and the choice is endless, but one thing is certain - knitwear is no longer just an addition to an outfit. It is the outfit.
Below is a whistle-stop tour of just some of the knitwear that is available this season. Some are wardrobe basics, some are trend pieces and some just do a great job style wise. Heading to the shops? These are my six essential knitwear buys...
Six Knitwear Buys Every Woman Should Own
The knitColour block (Boatneck Sweater, £19.99 at Gap)
Colour blocking has been a huge trend for a/w 2012, seen in coats, blouses and dresses. Wearing a colour-block knit is a great way of tapping into the trend without making a huge financial commitment to it, while at the same time adding a nice pop of colour to your outfit.
Wear withSkinny or waxed jeans and biker boots for a casual weekend look, or dress it up for work with a white shirt layered underneath, slim-leg trousers and these amazing two-tone shoes from Hobbs.
Style tipGiven its length and fit, this knit lends itself to a casual rather than smart look. However, when styled with heels, tailored trousers and an opulent necklace, it's much more versatile than it at first appears.
The knitCable knit (Fitted Cable Jumper, £41.40 at Boden)
A traditional style of jumper, cable knits have seen a revival in recent years. Being fitted, this jumper adds warmth without bulk, so is more flattering than some oversized styles.
Wear withAs an alternative to jeans, wear it with a midi-length wool or denim skirt, knee-high tan boots with a block heel, and a cross-body bag - lovely for a Saturday lunch out.
Style tipSome neutral coloured cable knits can be draining, so persevere to find your perfect shade of cream, ivory, grey or camel - or just opt for a coloured one instead. While the midi-length skirt can be a difficult skirt length to wear, the addition of knee-high, heeled boots makes it much more forgiving - and more accessible than in the summer months.
The knitColour bright (Ribbed Angora Jumper, £55 at Cos)
There's just something about a bright knit on a cold, dull day that makes people smile. This zesty lemon knit is a perfect pick-me-up to the darker colours which can dominate your wardrobe in the winter.
Wear withThis jumper isn't an obvious wardrobe choice for some, but once back at home you may be surprised with how many things it goes with. Wear it with denim (blue, black or grey) at the weekend and grey, black or navy smarter trousers during the week. Simple accessories - a necklace, ring or chunky cuff in silver - would keep it looking chic.
Style tipBreak the brightness of the jumper up slightly by layering a white or denim shirt underneath. Keep the rest of your outfit dark and simple - let the jumper do the talking.
The knitCashmere (Cropped Cashmere Cardigan, £89 at Boden)
Cashmere is so beautifully warm and soft, and now so readily available on the high street, that it had to be included. A treat to own, each time I had a baby I bought a new piece to wear when doing the night-time feeds. A freezing cold flat, a crying baby and sleep deprived - it was made all the more bearable with the addition of cashmere!
Wear withThe beauty of this cropped cashmere cardigan is that it works perfectly with dresses that are nipped in at the waist, or with higher waisted trousers and skirts. So many cardigans are too long for neat dresses, covering up their shape rather than emphasising it. It is also great for adding warmth under biker jackets, sitting there neatly but invisibly.
Style tipThere is nothing which makes a person's green or blue eyes 'pop' more than wearing a bright piece in a similar colour, such as this turquoise knit. Also look to H&M, Tesco and Marks & Spencer for fabulous cashmere which, contrary to popular belief, responds well to being washed and becomes softer with wear.
The knitCape (Lucy Cable Cape, £50 at Fat Face)
Capes are great for adding warmth and, with several layers underneath can act as a fabulous alternative to a coat - great when you are in and out of the car. They are widely available in heavy and lighter knits, and come in many different lengths and with varying shaped hemlines.
Wear withThe addition of a cape to an outfit of skinny jeans and heeled ankle boots, when also worn with a long pendant, is both stylish and flattering. Shorter capes also look fantastic with flared jeans and chunky heeled boots.
Style tipIf the right length, capes not only disguise curvier hips but their wider hemline creates the illusion of both longer and slimmer legs. Oh how I love those styling illusions!
The knitCharacter (Totes Amaze Jumper by Markus Lupfer, £295 at House of Fraser)
There are a huge variety of character jumpers this season from cartoon characters, to Batman slogans and action heroes.
Wear withA smile and witty retort for the comments which will come your way! Great for expressing your personality and for having some fun.
Style tipAnyone who is brave enough to wear a character jumper probably doesn't need any style tips! They are loud and for being seen in - so the rest of the outfit should continue along that theme. Wallflowers need not apply!