There’s something about the transition between autumn and winter that makes it feel especially difficult to dress for. My mind says “trench coats, jackets and trainers,” but the weather says “wool coats, scarves and boots” So as I find myself either shivering in the outfit I desperately wanted to wear or sweating profusely in a badly judged combination of knits, I just want simplicity. You know the kind of outfits I mean—the ones you can assemble in 10 minutes but look like you spent an hour getting ready? Usually for me, this magic ensemble happens when I’ve invested in a particularly good key piece. It could be a flattering black dress, a luxuriously soft jumper, or a killer pair of leg-lengthening jeans, but the ultimate goal is to build a roster of these, creating the perfect capsule wardrobe. But where does one even find such game changers? Well, after reading some seriously good reviews of its knits, jeans, and boots, I thought Marks and Spencer seemed as good a place as any to start my search.
We all know that M&S has a reputation for affordable, quality basics and standout accessories, but what of its new collection? Every summer, I find myself going straight to the store for all of my swimwear and sandals, but I have been guilty of letting it fall down the list for my other seasonal top-ups. However, scrolling through the site over the last few months has thrown out some seriously good pieces that gave me reason to look again, inspiring the idea to try out a (mini) M&S capsule for a week.
Despite being up against some seriously arctic temperatures and a couple of stock shortages (the viral borg is still sold out every time I check), this is my week in perfect Marks and Spencer outfits. Keep scrolling to see the pieces I really rated and why.
Quite possibly the best cashmere knit I’ve seen this year in this season’s trending shade of dark cocoa brown. In fact, I loved this jumper so much that I doubled up and layered two knits at once for a head-to-toe tonal look, a sneaky styling trick that I find always looks expensive.
I probably don’t have to tell you about the virtues of M&S’ faux leather offerings, but for those who don’t know, Marks and Spencer has always been a market leader in good-quality, buttery soft faux leather and this skirt is a prime example. Even on a freezing-cold Monday, this kept me warm, and unlike some plasticky high-street leather this wears comfortably without clinging.
Easily the best bit of the look. I am obsessed with these shoes. A little bit Miu Miu meets M&S, the two-toned slingback is such a good design choice, but it’s the kitten heel and Insolia padding that make them feel just as good as they look. If you aren’t a fan of the camel and white, they also come in all black.
Having always loved them but never found “the one”, I can now say that M&S’ belted camel coat is a particularly good one. Honestly, there isn’t much difference between wearing this and one of the designer ones I’ve road-tested lately (other than the price tag). Not overly heavy and easy to layer, this combination is a lot warmer than it looks, which is welcome for the wintery commute.
You can’t go wrong with an easy pair of leggings, and these are a great choice for taller and shorter heights as they come in three different lengths. There’s also no denying the comfort of the stretch, and as someone who always struggles to find trousers that fit properly, these have a smoothing hold that adjusts to your shape.
I’ve been waxing lyrical about these boots since they first landed on the site, but actually slipping into them with a cosy pair of socks reaches new levels of toastiness. I love knee-high boots as it is, but the completely flat sole is a rare find on the high-street, and my feet are all the happier for it.
Once again, it’s back to chocolate brown, and M&S are bang on trend with this tailored waistcoat in the same rich hue (brown is the new black after all). With a high enough neckline to wear with nothing underneath and an adjustable back to nip in the waist, this feels like the perfect piece to wear to the office now, especially with jeans.
I hadn’t actually noticed when I picked these up that they had turned up cuffs, but then I remembered some particularly good cuffed jeans outfits and they went straight into my basket. My first thought was “how can I style these without looking like I’ve stepped out of the 2000s?” but as it turns out, it’s in the same way that you’d tackle any other pair of dark blue jeans. (Just avoiding sparkles and halterneck tops to be sure).
As soon as this landed in the new-in section, I shared it in the Who What Wear editor group chat. Once again, it’s the attention to detail that makes M&S’s some of the best bags on the high street, and just look at that Prada Cleo silhouette. On reflection, I do wish I’d picked this up in black too, but I’m just so taken with the dark brown that I couldn’t wait to wear it.
Thanks to the likes of Toteme, Victoria Beckham, and Alexander McQueen, there’s a chunky, oversized jumper in the wardrobe of just about every fashion person across the world. It’s easy, versatile and always looks smart. Even though this one is a little shorter in the front and has vent cut in the sides, I sized up three sizes for it to be big enough for a baggy, menswear-inspired look with just the right amount of slouch.
In hindsight, I should have chosen a more exaggerated A-line shape to try as I rarely make my legs the star of the show, but I’m now so faithful to the idea of the black mini skirt that I will try one on in every store I pop into. This stretchy, form-fitting jersey skirt is the perfect choice for a casual weekend or night out, but if you’re used to wearing your skirts a little higher on the waist, it pays to be wearing the right underwear for modesty.
As someone who spends a lot of time piling on knits, overheating, and then cooling off in sleeveless tops, tank tops are the perfect solution. Wear them over t-shirts, shirts, dresses, almost anything (their versatility is endless), but this is an outfit I’d add a big coat to for the winter months. Rewearing the mini skirt with the heeled loafers is an easy look, but next time I’d be temped to add opaque tights instead. Something tells me that mini skirts and snow are not compatible…
If the weekend isn’t made for party dresses, I don’t know what is, and this semi-sheer dress is an excellent LBD. I could spend my time happily toasting the end of the week in this, and in the run up to party season it makes a great dinner-to-dancing option. If the thought of velvet, sequins and glitter leave you cold, this is the kind of dress you’re going to want to add to basket.
Last but not least, a cosy Sunday staple: the quilted jacket. After a bitterly cold morning the only option is to wear this therowarmth jacket over the cable knit jumper (and should I have thought about it, I would have added a brushed scarf too), but this cosy pairing is exactly what I want to wear to walk the dog and for the post-Christmas dinner stroll. Thanks, M&S.