If you’ve ventured out for some last-minute holiday shopping over the last couple of weeks you’ll probably have noticed that, instead of the rows of swimwear and linen dresses you were hoping for, you were instead confronted with cosy knitwear, office-ready tailored trousers, and in the most extreme cases, overcoats. Autumn may not officially start until 1 September but, in the topsy-turvy world of fashion seasons, AW23 is already well underway.

Which, of course, means it’s time for a deep dive into the trends that will be dominating social media feeds and red carpets this season. Allow us to be the bearer of good news: this season’s overriding themes are ones of wearability, practicality and pieces which you can throw on in the morning and feel confident in all day. And, while praising clothes for their ‘wearability’ may seem, frankly, a bit silly, after multiple seasons ruled by fuschia hues, sheer fabrics and surrealist elements, it’s rather refreshing to see jeans, shirts and jumpers make their return to the runways.

Which isn’t to say that the AW23 trends are without glamour or fun. Simply, this season sees the arrival of a more sophisticated approach to style. Less revenge dressing, more stealth wealth. Flamboyance eschewed in favour of fine fabrics. Attention-grabbing swapped for attention to detail. Here are the AW23 trends to know about now.

All Black Everything

The hero piece of the AW23 season was undoubtedly the LBC: Long Black Coat. Effortlessly dramatic, these floor-sweeping overcoats ran the gamut from double-breasted and sharply tailored at Alexander McQueen and Valentino to floor-sweeping and heavily embellished at Carolina Herrera. The ultimate winter armour, they were seen worn with a classic shirt and tie combination (the humble black tie is also making a huge comeback this autumn) or thrown on over an evening gown for ultimate versatility.

And where the LBC led, the rest of the collections followed. Black may not exactly be groundbreaking as colour palettes go but AW23 has ushered in an era of head-to-toe black, where everything including your jewellery, bag and shoes comes in a deep shade of noir. But don’t mistake that for being boring. At Stella McCartney and Simone Rocha, black dresses came with rib-framing cutouts and braided detail for contrast, at Dior and Tod’s padded shoulder and nipped waists created exaggerated silhouettes while all-out sex appeal was the order of the day at Bally and Michael Kors courtesy of plunging necklines and thigh-high slits. Mr Ford would be proud.

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Anine Bing Dione dress


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The Row Aris double-breasted coat


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Playful Necklines

Ditch the V-neck and banish the polo, this season necklines are taking on a whole new significance with designers dreaming up ever more creative ways to show off the shoulders. These new necklines broadly fell into three camps. First, the sculptural high neck as seen at Alexander McQueen, where models peered over the top of huge scoop-fronted gowns, on Christopher Kane’s innovative dresses where bandeau silhouettes were accompanied by wide reverse halternecks, and at Richard Quinn, where wide, stiff mandarin-style collars topped exquisite evening gowns.

Next came the asymmetric, deploying flashes of shoulder in lingerie-style dresses at Stella McCartney and David Koma, rendered in more demure leather at Sportmax and via a detachable shoulder piece in Chet Lo’s signature spikes. Finally, the enduring cut-out made appearances at Eudon Choi and Carolina Herrera, lending athletic appeal to diaphanous silhouettes.

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Coperni ruched T-shirt


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Saint Laurent twist-front minidress


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Red Hot

AW23’s other big colour story is red – and, in particular, a big, brassy scarlet the colour of your least favourite aunt’s lipstick. Largely presented in monochrome looks, designers crept right up to the line of overwhelming their models before pulling back via playful use of texture and a contrast between form-fitting and oversized pieces. At Valentino, for example, voluminous scarlet overcoats were paired with micro-mini red shirtdresses while David Koma’s models wore their feathered and furry outerwear with slinky sequinned dresses and high-waisted trousers. Bora Aksu, meanwhile, built up a fiery colour palette via layers of tulle and lace.

If all that red seems like a little too much for the real world, look to Ahluwalia, where party-ready cherry-hued minis were offset with bright pink accents. At Tory Burch, ruby knitwear added a punctuation point to neutral tailoring or, save it for best, a la Hermes, where shimmering midi dresses offered up endless inspiration for festive season dressing.

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Jacquemus knitted dress


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Veronica Beard Miller Dickey tweed blazer


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Power Dressing

If the start of September always imbues you with that back-to-school feeling, this is the trend to tap into this season. Forget the slouchy tailoring of seasons gone by: while trousers remain wide-legged, influencer-style oversized blazers were swapped for exaggerated shoulders, pinstripes and double-breasted jackets at Marc Jacobs, Saint Laurent and Zimmermann. And if the traditional two-piece isn’t for you, there are plenty of skirts (midi length and in checked tweed) and jumpsuit alternatives to go around.

And while designers have had a tendency to forgo underpinnings in favour of bralettes and camis with their suits over the last few years, for AW23 the crisp white shirt is making a welcome return. Worn tightly buttoned and accompanied by Lagerfeld-style ties at Carolina Herrera, Alexander McQueen and Valentino (where Pierre Paolo Piccioli exaggerated his into a sweeping gown), softer takes were on offer at Dior, where models wore theirs unbuttoned with rolled cuffs and tucked into flowing skirts, and Bottega Veneta, where they took an almost pyjama-like quality when paired with matching boxer shorts.

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There Was One pinstripe wool blazer and trousers

£586; £342

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Rag & Bone Maxine shirt


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Practical makes perfect

Falling somewhere between normcore and quiet luxury, AW23’s overriding mood of plain-speaking chic made itself felt in understated looks of the type worn by the women you want to be when you grow up. A carefully honed palette of cloud greys, butterscotches and ivories is key here (as, inevitably, is a good dry cleaner). Michael Kors, for example, sent a series of looks down the runway in which autumnal knits were paired with wool miniskirts, knee-high boots and cashmere capes that exuded the type of understated sophistication most of us can only aspire to.

Likewise, Connor Ives’ slouchy silk shirts, Tod’s floor-length trench coats and Bally’s straight-cut boiler suits all promised throw-on-and-forget-about-them elegance while those after a little more colour should look to Emilia Wickstead’s forest-green leather three-piece or Dior’s degrade sweater set for fantastic value-per-wear looks.

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Loro Piana leather-trimmed alpaca-blend poncho


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Moncler ribbed-knit wool midi dress


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Return of the evening gown

The one big exception to this season’s focus on understatement and timelessness? The return of head-turning evening gowns that demand to be admired. Again, there were two schools of thought when it came to black tie this season: sparkles and ruffles (to do both at once is still too much even for the fashion crowd).

In the first category comes fully sequinned, embroidered and blindingly dazzling gowns from Jil Sander, Paco Rabanne, Coach and Rick Owens. How not to tip into showgirl? Keep lines simple and classic: think high necks, long sleeves and straight or lightly A-lined skirts with plenty of room to move. At the other end of the spectrum, ruffles practically demand volume and it came in abundance from Richard Quinn (decked out in his signature moody florals), Carolina Herrera (Big Bird-yellow tiered tulle) and flamenco-esque flounces at Alexander McQueen. Now just to find the occasion to wear them…

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Galvan Prism dress


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Sachin & Babi Jenna gown


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If you only buy one thing: The oversized scarf

A scarf may sound more like a cold weather essential than a fashion trend but, for AW23, the oversized scarf became the star of the show on many runways. The rule here really is to go big or go home: if it’s not longer than your coat or wrapped to ear-grazing level then you’re doing it wrong.

Etro led the charge with a series of blanket-style scarves worn over knit dresses and thigh-high boots while Daniel Lee’s first outing for Burberry also saw extra long scarves in eye-popping shades top full checked looks. Channel eccentric British countryside chic to really pull this one off. Alternatively, coordinating your scarf with your overcoat offers a more polished take on the trend, as seen at Roksanda, Michael Kors and Acne Studios. Cool and cosy: we’re sold.

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Burberry check cashmere scarf


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Toteme wool-blend scarf jacket


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