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What to buy now

Get ready for the festive party season with our guide to the best short-order labels.

No longer is short-order and in-season buying something buyers and indie owners do on occasion – with the plethora of strong brands and a hunger for newness from shoppers, buying all year round is now the norm. And with a huge number of retailers suggesting that a substantial chunk of their sales are picked up during the Christmas period, never has injecting newness and capitalising on strong performers been more important.

With demand for these brands comes supply, as more fast-response labels enter the market, but what is particularly satisfying is that quality, far from being diluted, has improved as fierce competition has seen brands up their game. Here are the key names and trends to buy into now.

Poppy peplums

Celebrity endorsements and catwalk trends have kept peplum tops and dresses on top of the style charts. Rich block colours are still most popular but don’t rule out contrast-patterned panels. Being slightly dressier than everyday wear means the peplum particularly comes into play at this time of year, as going out trends dominate.

AX Paris, £10, 020 7436 1817; Izabel, £9, 020 3269 2015; 18 and East, £12.50, 020 7099 1471

Twinkle twinkle

‘Tis the season so it’s no surprise sequins and other sparkly finishes are popular right now. Party dresses are the most obvious blank canvases but relaxed blazer styles also get the all-over twinkly treatment as wardrobe favourites make the transition from day to night.

Motel, £22.31, 020 3137 6235; Lashes, £23.20, 020 8809 4432; Goldie London, £28.16, 020 7404 8748

Charming collars

Kooky and cute, contrasting collars on blouses are nothing new but the amount of embellished styles we’ve seen has significantly increased for this season. Sequins and beading on Peter Pan and pointed collars move the silky and cotton blouses more towards evening, representing another option for customers when faced with body-con bandaging and sparkly numbers.

Goldie London, £24.08, 020 7404 8748; Yumi, £13, 020 8961 2299

A bit of an animal

While animal print and snake effects will always be popular, the rise of cartoon-like or impressionistic depictions of our favourite creatures is hard to ignore. Foxes, owls, cats, squirrels, penguins and even polar bears have all made it onto the ark on T-shirts and knits, either as chest placements or wrapped around torsos à la Burberry.

Brat & Suzie, jumper (left) £12, jumper (right) £16, 020 7739 1414; Sugarhill Boutique, £17, 01273 911393; Louche, £19.60, 020 7091 1881

Antique interiors

Taking inspiration from ornamental wallpapers, curtain materials and patterned upholstery, this trend sees vintage decoration combine with more up-to-date finishes to make this one of the more interesting autumn 12 directions.

From tapestry panels to metal florals via more commonplace brocades, there’s definitely money in these antiques.

Closet, £15.50, 020 8983 7534; Yumi, top £14, skirt £18, 020 8961 2299

Fit & flare

One of the trends we noted in our spring 12 short-order feature has continued strongly into autumn. Because of the flirty kick, the dresses tend to feel more appropriate for daywear although some brands have used studding and sequins.

The more dramatic the flare, the stronger the dress, though belts on less exaggerated styles help accentuate the contrast from top to bottom.

Glamorous, £9.50, 0161 669 4624; Ruby Ray, £67, 020 8438 2000; Closet, £17.50, 020 8983 7534

Make the cut

Cut-outs, whether side slits, exposed backs or peekaboo torso slashes, are looking sharp for autumn 12. Dresses lend themselves best to the detail with the effect created ranging from subtle suggestiveness to full-on seduction. Interesting moves on include asymmetric windows and heart shapes at some of the more forward-looking brands.

Hedonia, £26, 0345 257 0057; Lashes, £23.20, 020 8809 4432; Ruby Rocks, £24, 020 7436 1817

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