Whenever I work with M&S the feedback you give me is that you find it helpful to be guided through their huge inventory. So, today I’m going to do a trying-on session of some of the things that have caught my eye recently and then I’ll talk you through a few M&S updates. As always, they’ve had some huge successes and I appreciate it can be frustrating when online stocks are limited so I’ll highlight when you may need to look in-store instead.

Let’s start with a spot of dressing up. I always envy the bloggers who have large M&S stores near them and can do changing room posts. I have to drive for an hour to get to a big store so I end up with things that sit in my basket for ages because I like the idea of them but I’m not sure how they’ll work on me. That’s where I thought I’d start today, with a few of the things that I’ve mentioned in posts recently so I ordered some samples in to gave them a spin.

Try-on 1: A hardworking holiday dress

First up, an easy summer dress. I get the feeling that the design team at M&S have taken inspiration from the upper end of the high street this season and launched more accessible versions of their best sellers – this dress has a touch of Hush about it.

You might not get much wear out of it for a British summer but it’s the sort of dress that’s perfect for taking on holiday. It packs easily, doesn’t crease and you could quickly wash and dry it in a hotel room if you needed to. It’s versatile and would work as a cover-up over a swimsuit, with flats for a day’s sightseeing or dressed up for a relaxed night out. The slightly loose cut is comfortable in the the heat and the viscose fabric is breathable.

M&S SS19 - what's new

Cotton floral midi-dress; Jigsaw sandals SS18

The ladder stitch detail gives it an on-trend tiered effect without adding bulk and it works really well with the midi-length.

M&S SS19 - what's new

Cotton floral midi-dress; Jigsaw sandals SS18

There’s something about this particular pattern that I really like, it reminds me of something, I don’t know whether it’s a dress that my mum had but I really like the rosebud sprig which is unusual for me. If you prefer a solid though, here are some of the similar styles that are available.

Pine green midi-dress – this is identical but in a deep shade of forest green that would look particularly lovely dressed up for the evening. Please note the caption on this says that it’s cotton but it’s made from crinkle viscose, as is the dress I’m wearing.

White midi-dress – this is new in, a lovely cotton broderie anglaise midi that’s getting good reviews

Pure cotton striped midi-dress – the buttons on this make it really useful for those awkward beach changes and it’s a chic neutral that could be dressed up with metallic accessories for evening

Try-on 2: Summer Boho

Now, I love the 70s trend that’s so strong this summer, it reminds me of my very first flirtations with fashion. From about 1975 onwards, I was desperate for a ‘tiered skirt’ but my mum wouldn’t let me have one – she said they were trollopey. Anyway she finally relented in 1978 and here I am feeling like the bees knees on my last day of primary school with my page boy haircut and my brand new tiered skirt.

So, although I usually steer clear of summer boho, the tiered skirts this year draw me like a moth. Now this skirt is comfortable and easy to wear but it isn’t really working for me. I need a closer fit in the first tier at the hips with the fullness starting further down. If you’re a column shape though, this will give you curves.

Although the cotton slub t-shirt has a lovely neckline, I found it came up very, very big. I haven’t pinned it but I’ve tucked a lot of loose material into the back of the skirt – if you’re buying one of these (and they’re incredibly good value) I recommend going down by not one but two sizes.

M&S SS19 - what's new

Cotton slub t-shirt; Autograph skirt (limited stock online); Earrings; Toe Thong Sandals; Clutch

The accessories are lovely. This embroidered clutch will add oomph to any summer outfit and the sandals are as easy to wear as a flipflop but much more chic. Just a note – if you have very sensitive toes there’s a seam at the top of the thong that might rub so try them out at home for a while before you pack them for a holiday.

M&S SS19 - what's new

Toe Thong Sandals (also available in black); Clutch

Try-on 3: easy summer workwear

And here you see me in my absolute comfort zone – I knew this jumpsuit would be a winner as soon as I saw it. It has a zip at the back so it’s easy to get on and off – there is a small button at the top which is a bit fiddly but it’s concealed so you don’t need to fasten it. The top two buttons at the front can be worn open or closed, depending on your preference. It has pockets and it’s available in either black or navy. The fabric is a mid-weight crepe which of course is polyester but it isn’t the cheap, flimsy kind, this has weight to it.

M&S SS19 - what's new

Jumpsuit with stitching detail; earrings; shoes (gifted SS19)

If the first dress made me think of Hush and the skirt reminded me of Whistles (with a slubby Hush t-shirt), this brings to mind Me+Em. Of course it isn’t the same uncreasable crepe that Me+Em use but it’s definitely similar to their styling at a fraction of the price. I’m wearing a size 12 here and it fits me like a glove standing up but I had a slight problem with the waistband when I sat down. It cut across the top of my tummy so I’ve reordered it in a size up for comfort and I suspect I might buy it in the black too. It’s going to be a good solution for my overnight trips to London because I find jumpsuits are so much easier to throw in a bag than separates.

M&S SS19 - what's new

Jumpsuit with stitching detail; earrings; shoes (gifted SS19)

Need-to-knows – M&S SS19 – what’s new?

Expanded Perfect Fit range

You may remember that in my last M&S post I explained that they have a renewed focus on fit. They’re working in specific silos, making sure that they develop a fit that addresses the needs of different customers in each of their hero areas. They started with Best Ever Fit jeans and now they’ve moved on to t-shirts and trousers.

Perfect Fit t-shirts

The t-shirts come in four categories: fitted, regular, straight and relaxed. The fitted cut is perfect for wearing with wide-leg trousers and fuller skirts. The regular is a semi-fitted shape, good for slim leg jeans or trousers. The straight fit is a boxier cut, better for skinnies and the relaxed cut is the loosest of them all. It’s the straight fit that didn’t work for me with the tiered skirt – the slim fit would have been the right pairing.

You can now navigate the website by fit which should make it much easier to put outfits together when you’re thinking about silhouette and know which proportions you want to work with.

See all fitted t-shirts here

See all regular t-shirts here

See all straight t-shirts here

See all relaxed t-shirts here

Perfect Fit trousers

Trousers have also had Perfect Fit scrutiny applied to them and now fall into three categories which, like the jeans, have been given names:

The Mias are the slimmest fit with a cropped ankle for a streamlined look. The Evies are a straight fit (the contrast stitch ones I’ve featured above are amazing if you can get your hands on a pair but they pretty much sold out straightaway). The Freyas are a new style for M&S, looser in the thigh than the Evies but still a straight cut.

See all Mias here

See all Evies here

See all Freyas here

Summer pyjamas

As I’ve been doing my holiday posts I’ve had requests for summer nightwear. I always buy new holiday PJs from M&S but they sell out quickly. The shorts are such a flattering cut and I pair them with the tops that have secret support which means I’m quite happy pottering around in them, even if I have to answer the door.

Striped pyjama shorts (limited stock online); Magenta floral pyjama shorts; Yellow floral pyjama shorts (NB the shirred waist on these last two pairs is particularly flattering to the midriff)

See all pyjama shorts here

M&S SS19 - what's new

Lace trim secret support top (cup size A-D)

Lace trim secret support top (cup size DD+)

Cool Comfort Range

If you’re suffering from the dreaded night sweats it’s worth knowing that there’s a ‘Cool Comfort’ range of moisture-wicking sleepwear including these pyjamas. You can see the full Complete Cool Comfort pyjama range

M&S SS19 - what's new

Cool Comfort Floral PJs (limited stock online)

Incidentally there are also moisture-wicking lingerie pieces in the Cool Comfort range too. However I would just like to say to M&S that they could make them a lot more attractive than they are – something to work on! Complete Cool Comfort range here.

To finish I have two other items that caught my eye when I was putting this together: these great value leather sandals, reminiscent of Hermès Orans, in lots of different colours including snake:

M&S SS19 - what's new

Leather sandals

Last of all this easy summer jacket – I haven’t had my hands on it so I don’t know what the fabric’s like but it’s a great shape… just saying.

M&S SS19 - what's new

Button detail biker jacket (also available in ivory)

So hopefully that’s been a useful M&S update. They’re working hard at their merchandising, making sure that there are clothes that work for their many different customer groups. They’re also looking at customer journeys, trying to ensure that the path to the pieces that are right for you is an easier one to navigate. It won’t be a quick fix but I like the strategic approach that they’re taking.

And so that brings me to the end of this summer focus on M&S – next month’s focus will be on holidays. In the meantime, thank you for all of my birthday wishes. After my weekend of partying I still don’t feel 52 but that’s because my body doesn’t feel a day under 96 and my mental agility has been reduced to that of a 2 year old. I can’t do it like I used to but… at least I’m still there doing it! I was a pretty useless blogger because I logged off for the whole weekend so there’s only one picture to share with you. This was as we arrived on Friday night and I think it does a good job of conveying our mood.

Midlifechic 2019 birthday

We really did have a lot of fun and so even though my body aches, my spirit has been completely revitalised. I still don’t have a meaningful birthday message for you other than to say if you have the chance… dance… regardless of who’s watching.

Disclosure: ‘M&S SS19 – what’s new and a trying-on session’ was commissioned by M&S but choice of content, thoughts and outfit photos are unedited and my own.

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