Is your wardrobe ready for winter? Mais, oui

Is your wardrobe ready for the new season? Or are you pulling your winter clothes out of the closet and raising an eyebrow in despair? Rather than wafting through the winter with a bad look before panic-buying a few pieces here and there to try to fix it, it's better to plan the look you want to achieve and build a shopping list before you buy a single thing.

Rather than heading straight for the usual stores, consider trying something different this season. Although the British high street provides great value for money, for quality and style it's hard to beat Paris or Milan in the fashion stakes. Visitors to these cities can take cheap flights to the UK, arrive in an hour or two, get off the plane and start shopping.

So, which city is the best option for you? Aside from other considerations such as food, restaurants, bars and culture, when it comes to shopping, the following should help you to decide whether you deserve a trip to Paris or Milan (or both!) this autumn.

PARIS has…

…the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore in the 8th arrondissement, host to the flagship stores of most of the world’s luxury brands. The epitomes of Parisian chic, Prada, Gucci, Chanel and Hermes all have a presence here. See elegant ladies groomed to within an inch of their life wait as their chauffeur lifts their shopping bags into cars parked in front of the designer stores. Great for people watching, if your budget doesn’t stretch to a whole new outfit at Chanel.

…the Boulevard Haussmann, proud host to some of Paris’ most prestigious department stores (grands magasins) such as the Galaries Lafayette and Au Printemps. A fashion institution, the store offers over 45,000 square feet of women's designer fashion, spread across three floors.

…the Marais. Just a decade ago, the Marais was still decidedly on the wrong side of town. Today, it's a bustling and cosmopolitan neighbourhood and home to some of Paris’ chicest designer stores. Here you’ll find young and established small designers who sell their clothes in intimate, friendly stores. It's unlikely you’ll find anyone at home wearing something you find at a store here.

MILAN has…

…the Quadrilatero della Moda, literally the fashion quadrilateral, which encompasses the Via della Spiga, the Via Montenapoleone, the Via Manzoni and the Corso Venezia. Together, these make up some of the most elegant shopping addresses in the world. Don’t despair if your budget is more H&M than Armani – the beautiful shop fronts give almost as much pleasure to window shoppers as to serious buyers and you can use the displays to gain inspiration for your own shopping sprees elsewhere.

…the Gallerie Vittorio Emanuele II, nicknamedil salotto di Milano (Milan's drawing room). This four-storey arcade is home to some of the best shops and restaurants in Milan, including a mix of luxury and high-street fashion brands such as Prada, Massimo Dutti and Louis Vuitton.

…the Rinascente, a chain of upmarket Italian department stores. The Milan branch, situated beside the beautiful Duomo cathedral and square, is part of Milan’s heritage and its shopper displays alone are worth the visit. Retailing both Italian and international brands, it's often cited by fashionistas as one of the most inspiring stores in the world.

…the Corso Como Outlet, a bargain-hunters paradise. A slightly shabbier version of the übercool original store (10 Corso Como), with endless racks of mostly black clothes by brands such as Helmut Lang, Chloé and Comme des Garçons. Even with prices slashed by half, it's expensive. But if you are looking to make investment buys, you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck here.

For information on flights from Norwich airport to Paris and Milan, click on the link.