I had a bit of a ‘pinch me’ moment (well, more of a whole week!) earlier this month when iconic British retailer Marks & Spencer flew little old me to London to check out their new season launch.
Since we don’t have any stores in Australia this was the perfect chance to get amongst the product, try absolutely everything on and, of course, report it all back to you guys!
Scroll on to see a travel diary of sorts in the form of outfits, the new season collection and tips for shopping M&S online.
Look 1: Flagship store visit
Day 1 started with a visit to the Marks & Spencer flagship store in Marble Arch. After a quick run-through of the itinerary it was time to pick out an outfit for an event later that evening- and shoot a little IGTV clip while we were at it!
Wanting to look polished but comfortable meant it was a job for my go-to T2T uniform: blazer/jeans and an easy heel!
The stretchy fabric of the blazer (size 8) allows it to move with the body and comfortable for all-day wear. The soft and silky cami (size 8) is perfect for layering between seasons while the sleeveless (not strappy) style means it’s office appropriate sans blazer.
The jeans are true to size (size 10) and true high-waisted. I have the regular leg length (love that M&S do various lengths!). I actually picked up 2 pairs (the second is linked a bit later) and ended up alternating between the two for the rest of the trip because they were THAT comfy.
Look 2: Welcome dinner and runway show
With outfit in hand, it was time to check in to The Trafalgar Hotel. Located across the road from Trafalgar Square and a stone’s throw from Queenies house (we were actually right next to the driveway up to Buckingham Palace!) this trip was starting to look very different to my past visits to London spent crashing at friends places!
As for my outfit for the night: went for a spot of colour blocking after seeing 70’s silhouettes and splashes of colour instore that morning.
After another hour of filming for the IGTV clip, it was off to the hotel bar to check out the new collection (I’ll clip below!).
And what a runway it was! I’ve added some clips below but loved the flash mob-style dances the models would break into as they wove their way past our tables.
That strong 70’s vibe I’d seen in-store continued through to this new collection. Brown and tan hues paired with shades of blue and pops of punchy colour via vibrant magenta, orange and mustard.
In terms of prints, there was a mix of florals (big and bold) and geometric prints in various sizes. Voluminous sleeves and pleats elevated the looks.
And let’s not forget the TEXTURE! Soft velvet, smooth satin, faux fur and an ode to disco with a fantastic sequined LBD and a shimmery silver blazer and skirt combo. These pieces are not available on our Australian website just yet (I’ll update when they are!) but I’ve popped the clips below as a teaser ;). Links to my outfit below as well!
Look 3: Lingerie and leisurewear Showcase
Day 2 started with Soozie Jenkinson, the head of design (for the past 20 years!) for the much loved Marks & Spencer lingerie range. After receiving many DMs over on Instagram from you guys raving about you M&S undies and bras (I love that you’re all so open with me! haha) I was definitely curious to learn a bit more about the range.
M&S continues to be the market leader in bras and underwear in the UK (they currently hold 36% of the market share) with 110 pairs of undies sold per minute and 21 million bras per year!
There’s extensive research and development that goes into perfecting every piece, resulting in a range which is size-inclusive (most of the bras go up to an AU 20 G, the undies size 28), stylish (no VPLs or bulky silhouettes), functional (design to work seamlessly with the M&S clothing range) and affordable. What’s not to love?
Soozie took us through some bestsellers and introduced new offerings such as the extra high impact sports bra. I’ve saved the video clips from the morning to my Highlights on Instagram but some faves are also linked below:
SHOP: SPORTS BRA
SHOP: T-SHIRT, SPORTS BRA
SHOP: WAFFLE HOODIE, FLEXIFIT PANTS, KIMONO
Look 4: Photoshoot with M&S Team
Before I left for London I asked you guys what you’re hunting at the moment. The number 1 response was modest clothing! Tops that weren’t too cropped, dresses with some sleeves, skirts/shorts with some coverage. Oh, and more blazers!
With that in mind, I collaborated with the UK online content team to showcase pieces which would also work for our upcoming warmer weather.
After a few weeks of prep over phone and emails it was fantastic to finally meet the UK team! On shoot day I had the loveliest team- photographer, stylist, creative directors- running the show and making sure I was comfortable (they wouldn’t even let me carry a bag! So nice!). All I really had to do was pose in pre-selected locations (which included a vintage double-decker bus!) and say cheese! A little different to Paul and me with an iPhone out the front of our apartment :p.
I’ve included the first look below. I couldn’t go past this tweed double-breasted blazer, just looked so ‘London’ to me! The buttons are a subtle gold and look fantastic against the black and white. The jeans are another wash of the Carrie jeans I’m wearing in the first look above.
As for the heels, y’all know I’m a sucker for white shoes! They add a pop of colour and contrast to a look without actually adding colour or detracting from the rest of the outfit. The tee is a great basic (not see-through!) and made from sustainable cotton (M&S are very proactive in this space). Full links below!
Look 5: Exploring Notting Hill
This dress first caught my eye at the runway show cos: COLOUR. Not to mention the flow, the sleeves and the silky soft material just makes it a fantastic throw on and go number.
It was also one of the tops picks by the designers of the new collection and was described as feminine and functional.
I dressed it down with sneakers for a spot of Notting Hill exploring but you could also team with a barely-there strappy sandal or a metallic heel for a night out.
Tips for shopping M&S Online
So I ended up spending quiiite a few hours at the Marble Arch store over the week. In between breaks at the M&S food hall (yes I still think about their sandwiches!) I tried on many pieces to test sizing, check out the quality and price points and compare how ‘real-life’ stacked up to online.
Here’s what I found:
- Take the low product reviews with a grain of salt! The product reviews are extremely helpful but can also be very harsh! As a rule, I only select pieces with 4-5 star ratings when I’m shopping online back home so it was interesting to see some of the items I’d vetoed were actually fine. Fingers crossed I can continue working with M&S so I can try everything out for you guys (the dream! haha) but until then, items you love with mixed reviews may be worth the gamble!
- Size down for wide-fit shoes. Since I have a narrow foot I’d always by-pass the whole wide-fit range. Turns out, sizing down (to a UK 4.5 from UK 5) does the trick! The berry heels I wore with the mustard dress is from the wide fit range.
- Can size up or down for blazers and jackets. Could comfortably wear size 6-10 in the M&S blazers. Good to know if your usual size is sold out!
- Work pants firmly true to size. I’m a size 10, regular leg length.
- Cheap doesn’t mean poor quality. Always a pleasant discovery! This is where the reviews can really help when trying to decide on an item.
- Use my code TINA20. Aaaand if you made it this far on this whopper of a post here’s your prize! 20% full-priced items and this has no expiry date! Enjoy!
Phew. What a trip. Thank you guys so much for your role in all this. It’s literally your ongoing trust and support that brings me these opportunities. Taking a few seconds to like/comment on Insta or clicking through to use my links and codes means a lot.
As more of the new collection becomes available I’ll update this post but for now: That’s a wrap!
P.s Here’s the IGTV clip!