Have you been fleeced?

Love them or hate them, sheepskin boots are here to stay

Sometimes something comes into fashion and just refuses to go away, no matter how many times magazine "in and out" barometers proclaim the look to be very much out. Ugg boots are one such trend. They are sheepskin boots of various lengths, from ankle to knee, usually worn in a sand colour, although black and chestnut are popular, too. You can get children's ones in all different colours, including pink. They are much imitated and Ugg has become the generic name for all manner of sheepskin and fake sheepskin boots.

Cheap, fake versions can be had for about £20, and they look it. The real deal costs close to, or over, one hundred pounds. The authentic Ugg boots are from Australia. They first became fashionable on the set of Baywatch, improbably worn with bikinis (you could see them as far back as 11 years ago, when Ruby Wax interviewed Pamela Anderson). Lots of people hate sheepskin boots. My web-partner calls them "winter Crocs" in testament to their ugliness. The problem is that when you get a fashion that looks good (although not everyone agrees on this) and is practical, it becomes a trend that just won't die.

I kept thinking they'd be over, but this year if anything, more people than ever are wearing them. Finally, I too have given in. I defend my ridiculous sheepishness (ha ha) by saying I part-live in the countryside and it's really cold there. But actually I'm now so deeply in love with my boots that I'm too busy being snug and smug to feel like I have to justify myself. If you've never put a naked foot into a real sheepskin boot of a cold and frosty morning you are in for a treat.

Don't be tempted to get fake sheepskin. It's just not worth it, as your feet will honk after a few days' wear. Ugg is the trendiest label by far, but I bought mine straight from New Zealand and they arrived in a week (www.kiwi-sheepskins.com). These are cheaper than Uggs, too. The service was superb but in my experience they can come up a bit big, so take care.

Closer to home are Celtic Sheepskin boots (www.celtic-sheepskin.co.uk). Men should check out the Aqualamb boots, which are also water-resistant. The children's versions on the Celtic site are superb, as they come in such a wide variety of colours, and are machine-washable; in fact, they're so popular that there's a waiting list for certain shades, so don't leave it too long be-fore ordering.

Meanwhile there is another boot hoping to knock Uggs off their perch: Snowjoggers. These are padded snowboots with a trainer bottom, and are made entirely of synthetic materials. They're almost impossible to buy, as they sell out as soon as they hit the shelves. I've got a pair but am not so sure about them. Maybe they're still just too trendy for me; but maybe I'll start wearing them with gusto in a few years' time.

Annalisa Barbieri was in fashion PR for five years before going to the Observer to be fashion assistant. She has worked for the Evening Standard and the Times and was one of the fashion editors on the Independent on Sunday for five years, where she wrote the Dear Annie column. She was fishing correspondent of the Independent from 1997-2004.

This article first appeared in the 07 January 2008 issue of the New Statesman, Pakistan plot