The sun is shining, in fact the tabloids are calling it the Moroccan Melt so to everyone who asked me to bring the weather back with me from Marrakech, you’re welcome! It means that for once, the new Spring collections that are arriving feel timely. It’s usually hard to imagine spring in February but this week retail sales have been booming as everyone casts off their winter layers. I’m sure we’ll have another stretch of jumpers and boots next week but while we’re in the mood, let’s look ahead. Today I’m focusing on the new deliveries at Marks and Spencer. In the interests of clarity this post was commissioned by them but as always it’s unedited so they’ve had no input into which pieces I’ve picked out or what I will say.

I had a catch-up with the team at M&S a few weeks ago and they told me that this season, the design team have focused on paring everything back. When I went to the press show a few days later I could see what they meant. There are more core wardrobe pieces – they’ve gone back to the drawing board with their denim and other essentials such as tees and shirts, making sure that each piece is well designed and well priced. The other element of paring back that I noticed was in their more fashion forward items – they have less detail and fuss this year. It’s going to be interesting to see how it’s received but as you can imagine, I like the simplicity of it. So, today I’m going to sift through some of the current ‘newness’ and then I’ve done a ‘Marks and Spencer trying-on session – Spring 2019’ to see how they work on an ordinary body.

Holly Willoughby at M&S

The new Holly edit launched today and I think that for the first time it looks beyond Holly’s core audience of 30-somethings to achieve a broader appeal. The pieces that stood out for me were this simple striped top (also available in blue, yellow and multi-coloured) – you’ll see me wearing and reviewing it later in the post…

Marks and Spencer trying-on session - Spring 2019

Boatneck striped top; (US link)

… along with this denim dress…

Marks and Spencer trying-on session - Spring 2019

Denim dress; (US link)

… and this boilersuit. Now boilersuits are a big trend for this season and they’re going to be a love/hate item but this is the nicest one I’ve seen so far because the cut is more flattering. A lot of them are very baggy and look as though they’ve come directly from the forecourt.

Marks and Spencer trying-on session - Spring 2019

Boilersuit; trainers; (US link)

I really liked it when I saw it at the M&S press show styled like this. It looks darker here than it does on Holly and I wondered if it was a different one but it’s the same colour as the model photographs on the web page which makes me think they’ve had to lift the lighting in the Holly shot.

Marks and Spencer trying-on session - Spring 2019


(US link)

You can see the full Holly Willoughby new season edit here. 

The ‘Best Ever Fit’ denim collection

This new jeans collection is part of the renewed focus on perfecting specific core pieces. When M&S get denim right you just can’t beat them. For the last five years they’ve produced what are, in my opinion, the best skinny jeans on the market, they’re an amazing fit at an amazing price. For ages I’ve been hoping they’d extend that expertise into other cuts and now they claim they have with their Best Ever Fit collection. So of course I had to test it out.

Rather than just pick my favourite pair and tell you which it was, I thought it’d be more helpful for you if I did a trying on session so I went into my local store to find a pair of each fit. I tried to get them all in the same wash but didn’t quite manage it because they were selling fast so we have three pairs in a mid-indigo dye and one in black. The trend for denim this season is for lighter washes (in fact acid and bleached denim is the most fashionable) which is probably why they had all sold out of the paler shades.

Long-standing readers will know how these try-ons work – I start with the retailer’s model shot and then take a deep breath and follow it with mine. I aim to shoot everything in the same spot, standing square on, in the same position. The outfit is unstyled so that there’s nothing to distract you from the core item. This way you can judge independently which fit you feel would work best for you. To recap, I’m a standard UK size 12 and I’m wearing a regular length in each pair.

Ivy skinny jeans

Starting with the classic skinny that M&S does so well, here’s the new ‘Ivy‘ (also one of Holly’s must-haves) on the model…

Marks and Spencer trying-on session - Spring 2019

Ivy skinny jeans (US link here)

…and here it is on me. So, the first surprise with these is that they’re ankle length – I’m used to M&S skinnies being long but this is a good length for summer. There’s no whiskering (imagine the effect of cats’ whiskers in terms of fading at the hips) and I miss that because I find it has a slimming effect but I know that lots of people hate it so it will be a personal thing. The thigh-reducing fading down the front of the thigh is also minimal which again some people will like, others won’t. Other than that they’re a classic skinny, true to size with plenty of stretch making them comfortable to wear. If you prefer an even tighter fit, there’s a super-skinny version here.

Marks and Spencer trying-on session - Spring 2019

Ivy skinny leg jeans ; (US link here)

Lily slim leg jeans

Moving on to the Lily slim leg option, here’s the model…

Marks and Spencer trying-on session - Spring 2019

Lily slim leg jeans; (US link here)

… and here’s me. I have one leg rolled up because I was working out where I’d wear it – I often have jeans altered to hit my break point. These are a great option if you’re taking your first steps away from skinnies. They’re not a drastic change because they’re still fitted around the thigh and upper calf but they loosen towards the ankle. I’m wearing them in black which is a solid dye but the lighter washes have whiskering and fading. They’re true to size, stretchy with a high waist so in my view they’re a really good all rounder.

Marks and Spencer trying-on session - Spring 2019

Lily slim leg jeans; (US link here)

Sienna straight leg jeans

Now we’re moving on to the Sienna straight leg jeans which are the ones I expected to prefer. Here they are on the model…

Marks and Spencer trying-on session - Spring 2019

Sienna straight leg jeans; (US link here)

… and here they are on me. They’re mid-rise, comfortable and true to size but there’s something about them that I just didn’t like. For me they were a bit nondescript so I was disappointed…

Marks and Spencer trying-on session - Spring 2019

Sienna straight leg jeans; (US link here)

Relaxed slim leg jeans

… until I found these which are not part of the ‘best ever fit collection’ but they were ranged with it in store.

Marks and Spencer trying-on session - Spring 2019

Relaxed slim leg jeans; (US link here)

These are the relaxed slim and they’re exactly what I was looking for. They come in a light or mid-wash, they’re a really soft denim and as you’ve gathered, the fit is relaxed so they’re more on trend. This cut works well with trainers during the day but it also looks good dressed up with heels at night because it lends that air of high/low insouciance. The one thing I would say about them is that they come up slightly big so you may want to size down. I’m going to change them for a size 10 which is unusual. Oh and they cost £5.50 more than all the others but I felt that the denim was upgraded.

Marks and Spencer trying-on session - Spring 2019

Relaxed slim leg jeans; (US link here)

Trying on an edit of what’s in store

So, having found the right jeans, M&S gave me the option of ordering a few more pieces to play around with so that I could build some outfits that would truly work with my capsule. For the sake of clarity let me explain how this works. M&S give me an allowance for the post but I always add my own money so that I can order a good selection. That way I have more choice when I’m deciding what to keep.

This is the sort of outfit that I wear on relaxed days in the office or if we’re meeting friends for a coffee. I do love a hat – when you’re wearing a very simple outfit like this it really elevates it. This is a great updated fedora with a slightly wider and floppier brim than the classic style. I ordered a M/L because I have quite a large head but it was too big and I was having to hold tight on a blustery day so size down on this one. It’s also available in orange.

Striped tops are a key part of most women’s wardrobes and I need to update some of mine because they’re looking shabby. This one is a very light cotton with a turtle neck which is more flattering than a crew. It’s an absolute bargain and it’s been great layered with a long cardigan in this unusually warm weather that we’ve been having.

The cut of the blazer makes it an easy way to nod to the double breasted trend – you have the symmetry of buttons at either side but without the bulk. I wanted to order it in navy but it was sold out so I tried the black… and now the navy’s back in stock!

The shoes – let me rave about the shoes. I don’t know whether you’ve ever tried a pair of designer shoes made from the softest kid leather – if you haven’t, this is how it feels, M&S have really excelled themselves here. Toe capped shoes are a big trend for SS19 and because they’re so similar to Chanel’s, the black and camel colourway has been an Instagram sensation so unfortunately they’re currently out of stock. However they are available in navy leather with a contrast patent toe. I could walk in them for miles, they’re as comfortable as trainers and true to size.

Nikki Garnett Midlifechic

Gold button jacket; Toe capped shoesRelaxed slim leg jeans; Striped top; Fedora Hat

(US links: Jacket; Shoes (N/A); Jeans; Striped top; Hat)

Moving on, I decided to try a slightly smarter work outfit, something that would be ok for meeting clients. I’ve repeated the jacket and this time I’m trying the boatneck breton that is part of the Holly edit. It’s a really good lightweight breton for summer with three quarter length sleeves. The neckline is flattering and it’s quite a close fit so if you want it to skim rather than cling, go up one size. It’s also available in a yellow, navy or a multi-coloured stripe. The ponte wide leg trousers are a great fit and easy to wear. They’re high rise with a deep waistband so looking at this picture I should have tucked the top in to make the outfit proportions work better.

Marks and Spencer trying-on session - Spring 2019

Gold button blazer; Wide leg ponte trousers; Boatneck striped cotton top

(US links: Jacket; Shoes (N/A); Trousers; Striped top)

And, leaving my favourite until last, a ‘go anywhere’ dress. It isn’t often that you find a dress that answers the ‘could I wear it 30 times’ question but for me this is one. I was a bit cautious about ordering it because it’s only available online which says one of two things to me: either they’re not sure about it or they’re testing it early with higher densities in mind. In this case I think it’s the latter. The black version sold out almost overnight but it’s still available in red AND… it’s also available in petite!

Shirtdresses are continuing to be a strong look this season and the thing that makes this one stand out is the cut. So often they have too much bulk at the waist. This one however is a slim fit, the ‘flow’ comes from tailored vents in the skirt. It has a detachable knee-length slip inside to help with any opacity issues. The dress itself is floaty viscose so it will be good in summer, the slip is polyester but you could easily change that over if you wanted to. It’s held in place with press studs so you could just slip a nude one of your own inside. I’m going to do this anyway because I want the slip to be shorter than the one they’ve included – with some transparency from mid-thigh down, this dress could easily pass for Whistles.

Midlifechic Nikki Garnett

Long sleeve midi shirtdressshoes

(US link: dress, shoes)

So with this outfit I’m thinking anything with the dreaded ‘smart casual’ dress code: weddings / races / dinners / garden parties / Glyndebourne / even (and surely I can’t have found ‘the one’ already) that all important graduation ceremony that some of us have coming up! The thing is as well as all of these occasions, you could also just wear it for work (it’s machine washable). As you can see it has a self-tie belt, I’m going to change that for a snake leather one, or maybe a metallic one… I love this dress – M&S please do it in cobalt blue too.

Nikki Garnett Midlifechic

Long sleeve midi shirtdress; shoes

(US link: dress, shoes)

So, that leaves me with two other things that I wanted to show you but the delivery was delayed and first up are these shoes. Top to toe denim is a trend, I’m not sure I’ll go that far but these are great for wearing with jeans – they make them slightly smarter but not too much. Low stock though so be quick.

Marks and Spencer trying-on session - Spring 2019

Kitten heel slingbacks; (US link)

And these earrings, perspex jewellery is a key look and these are a great price for something that will probably only be relevant for a season or two.

Marks and Spencer trying-on session - Spring 2019

Flower drop earrings

(US link)

In fact the new jewellery collection was one of the things that really stood out at the press show. I wonder if they have a new buyer because it’s so strong this year and some of it is in stock already. Here are some quick snaps I took to give you an idea.

Marks and Spencer trying-on session - Spring 2019

Marks and Spencer trying-on session - Spring 2019

Marks and Spencer trying-on session - Spring 2019

The early collection of earrings is available here and the first sunglasses are here (you can tell it’s sunny, stocks are low already!).

So, what did I keep from the samples I ordered? Well the dress, obviously, have you gathered that I love it? (And yes I know I have a few red dresses but this one has long sleeves which makes all the difference for a British summer). I also kept the jeans although I’m changing them for a size 10, both pairs of shoes, the striped tops and the earrings – and then I had to stop before I refilled the dressing room space that I’ve just cleared.

Hopefully that’s given you a good overview of what’s in store at M&S right now. We’re going to be so well prepared when spring arrives for certain, until then… enjoy this little taste of it while it lasts.

Disclosure: ‘Marks and Spencer trying-on session – Spring 2019’ was commissioned by M&S however I was given free rein over the clothing choices, photography and editorial content.

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