M&S Collection49-50-Shoe19-50-CollectionBag49-50_592x888
Tailored shirt dress, available HERE.

Feels like M&S is finally getting its act together. The British brand surprised the fashion world this week by launching its autumn 2016 collection with an immediately available, chic capsule range ‘The Big Easy’. I had a good look at the collection yesterday: I wouldn’t buy the Alexa Chung stuff, but I would buy this. CEO Steve Rowe explained the buy now, wear now approach to the Times, ‘People say : “You show us it all in the media and then we can’t find it…” – well, you can now.’ Which reminded me of the days when I worked on a magazine and readers would phone up to complain if we featured something from M&S that wasn’t available (which happened quite a lot). Reminiscing about the pre-online shopping era, I recalled the reader phone calls and letters – the woman who sent us a skanky old grey bra, the label had worn off and she wanted to know if we recognised the style. ‘She could’ve washed it,’ said my horrified assistant dropping it into the bin. Then there was the reader who wanted to know if you could catch BSE/Mad Cow Disease from a leather sofa. Oh, happy times…

AutographShirt39-50-Trouser199-Shoe19-50_592x888

Anyhow. M&S is looking chic. Style director Belinda Earl is calling The Big Easy collection ‘timeless’ but it’s ageless, too. Well, maybe not the hot flush-inducing leather culottes but the silk shirt is lovely (available HERE) and the flat sandals (available HERE) have comfy insoles approved by the UK College of Podiatrists. These are the chic, modern basics that grown-up women want.

M&S CollectionJumper35-Jean39-50
Pure cotton jumper, available HERE

I’d buy these ecru crop flare frayed jeans (available HERE) if I hadn’t DIY-ed my own.  As well as the everyday essentials, there’s a nod to fashion, but this time round it’s the stuff that you’d actually want to wear. There’s more than a whiff of Gucci, plus Vetements-inspired jeans (below), and I’ve got my eye on the pink velvet trouser suit, coming soon. Though it does looks a bit synthetic, whoosh!

M&S pink velvet trouser suit-39-50-shoe-29-50_592x888

The coats are good – there’s a lovely tweed check with a bejewelled collar, a chic grey trench and a leopard print style that will be available for autumn. Vogue is showing images of the entire M&S autumn 2016 collection HERE and the Big Easy range is available HERE.

Autograph169-CollectionJacket35-LimitedEditionBlouse29-50-Trouser35-Collection35_592x888

M&S grey trench Coat79-Top25-Trsouer35_592x888

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Easy does it M&S. Will you be buying?

42 thoughts on “M&S get it right

  1. I know, I know, I really ought to like M&S more and I can see they’re trying, but can I say here and now (and I think you posted something recently about cropped jeans recently) I just cannot do the cropped trouser (or jeans) because i) on my long legs they look as though they don’t fit and ii) it has to be boiling hot weather before I’d wear them as they’re blooming cold to wear (I tried it once!).

    As for the pink velvet suit – they look like pjs.

    I was in M&S yesterday – looked the same as ever. And who are their customers, Alyson? I’d like to see you modelling this range.

    1. I think you’re right, Penny, M&S need to sort out their stores – they need a really strict edit, there’s just too much uninspiring stuff. And yes, they should’ve used an older model, too (not necessarily me – though that is very kind of you!)
      PS That’s what I thought about cropped jeans but I’ve been wearing them…

  2. There are days when I wish I worked in an office and could justify some of these lovely outfits. Love the shirt dress and silk shirt and leather culottes and the off the shoulder jumper and the sandals. Maybe the bonus if the diet works 🙂

  3. The clothes always look lovely on paper but in reality i personally find on the whole the fabric quality etremely poor and expensive given the mass production.Compated to Masimmo Dutti for example whose clothes i adore for cut quality and style there is no contest.Sorry M&S you have a very long way to go.

  4. M&S have always baffled me. From my childhood and teenage days when they didn’t have changing rooms so you had to buy, try on and take back. Then as a student, the bras were oddly fitting and very pointy when we all wanted a natural shape and the pants soon looked tatty. So I only go in there when a friend is looking. These clothes look ok-ish in the pics but I know there will be something not right in real life, and elastic-waisted suede culottes? I won’t be buying.

  5. When I saw this collection I thought ‘leather culottes? Bonkers: sweaty crotch and cold ankles. On he hot-flush front, at least you get a bit of ventilation up the legs of the culottes (think I’ll stick to my Indian-sewing-cooperative ones though), the silk shirt is lovely, but the velvet has a bit of a shine to it, like it’s nylon velvet, rather than cotton velvet. I’m thinking velour… Sorry – it’ll look great on you!

    1. It does look a bit flammable…Agree with Kay’s comments about the fabric quality, this does needs sorting out (they need to ensure that production is the same quality as the samples the press see). The silk shirt and the cotton knitted top were natural and not sweat-inducing/shiny!

  6. M&S has totally lost it. Sorry. And who wants to see themselves walking down the street in the same outfit?
    Too much tat – they need to get back to proper classics of good quality – and when they have sold out they’ve sold out!

  7. I phoned up as soon as I read the Times article yesterday about the leopard swing coat as it wasn’t online and got the usual “those marketing people have got ahead of themselves-it’s not available yet!” Plus ca change and btiw the wide sleeved sweater you’re showing got 2 stars in reviews already

  8. Hmmmm, they haven’t got it right for me I’m afraid. And, yes, it would be nice to see it all on models of different sizes, shapes and ages.

  9. I popped into m&s last week to look for a swimsuit and ended up leaving with a giant bag full of lovely stuff but I have to admit it took hours to find the gems hidden amongst whole areas dedicated to the same boring tshirt in a zillion different colours! Agree with other comments here about the need to edit their range and improve the way they display merchandise.

  10. I’ve just clicked on the M&S link for the Big Easy range. The woman modelling the black maxi dress is 6’1″ tall and in the photo the dress is on her ankle. Just who are M&S trying to attract, super models? Very disappointing.

      1. I’ve just gone back over the range, everything has been fitted ‘tall’. These clothes aren’t going to do anything for women under 6′!!

  11. The silk shirt does look nice and it’s about the only piece that would be difficult to place. However, I wish they would show clothes on older models. The very young girls they use look like they’ve raided Granny’s wardrobe. Twiggy would have been a good choice. I do want to like M&S but they make it very difficult. I went into a big store last week to get a black Autograph t-shirt I’d seen in Vogue. It took me so long to find it, I nearly gave up. Why can’t they edit their stores properly and just offer less?

  12. I’m going to buck the trend here and show some love for M&S. I tend to pop in every time I’m in town and look at the Limited range, which I find has lots of useful basics which are of a higher quality and better design than their other ranges. For example, last year I bought a sleeveless summer white shirt which was very similar to one at Reiss at a third of the price. Their jeans are good too, again if you want everyday wear that’s a cut above the supermarket offerings and not at silly prices. Then there’s the stuff that doesn’t sell in this neck of the woods and gets reduced – I’m waiting for that to happen with the brocade bomber jacket you featured a while back.
    So I always look in store, with an open mind, and usually find something useful and stylish at a reasonable price. Which works for me.

  13. Can’t say that I shop at M&S here in Canada. But I sure am loving my Twiggy suede jacket that I won right here on your blog. And I was impressed that M&S didn’t say a word about having to ship it all the way to Canada.

  14. M&S do need a good store edit but some of the autograph items are lovely. I surprised myself when I bought their denim trench recently. It is stunning. But do size down.

  15. I have to say I agree….M&S have got it right and I can’t wait for autumn to arrive! I just hope it’s looks as good on me!

  16. I remember the days when M&S were the go-to store for almost everything: great basics, well-made (Daks used to make their jackets), in lovely fabrics. I think it all went wrong when they tried to appeal to a younger clientele who were already shopping at stores aimed at the young and M&S never really made it into that segment of the market but succeeded in alienating their core customers. They also deserted the British manufacturers (some of whom were contracted to do only M&S work) and outsourced overseas without ensuring that quality was maintained. There is just too much mediocre/boring stuff and not enough of the elegant basics. I found a great, new-in, v necked top last year that you could accessorise and wear round the clock – but not in my size in any M&S store in the country.

    Having said that, I did buy a khaki/olive green jacket last autumn that I’ve worn to death – but that’s been my only purchase there in ages. A far cry from the day when my girlfriends and I used to play the game: ‘What would you be left wearing if you had to take off everything you bought at M&S?’ One one occasion, I’d have been clad in my wedding ring and a hair clip.

  17. We don’t have M & S here in the States but I have to put my two cents worth on the photos. These photos feed into the ageist whims of the clothing industry. Why aren’t older women used in these ads?

  18. Sorry to toss in a dose of reality to the wish for older models but it’s not going to happen. Millenials have the money now, not baby boomers. Plus when it comes to age, shoppers buy down, not up–we all want to look five years younger than we are. At least it’s not like the ’90s and early ’00s when teenagers with babysitting money controlled the market and all the designer labels were concentrating on size 2s.

  19. OMG this collection is amazing and reasonably priced, ive put in my order for the shoes dress and skirt, Brilliant !

  20. At 6′ tall, I’m afraid cropped trousers and bracelet length sleeves just don’t do it for me – it just looks as though I’ve outgrown my clothes. And who wants bracelet-length sleeves in an overcoat, anyway? As usual, if the designs don’t look good on the model – and, if you check out the Vogue images, most of these don’t – then I won’t be going anywhere near. M&S? A “miss” from me, I’m afraid.

  21. Well done M&S – that’s a good start! After reading Alyson’s blog I visited M&S in Carlisle today and found several things I could have purchased and I am delighted to be able to say that as I have been very concerned about the brand as far as women’s clothing is concerned and haven’t really bought much in the last few years.

  22. No, sorry – M&S has lost the plot and I don’t think they will ever regain their credibility. Buy my knickers there.

  23. I think m and s has its place tbh I love bobbing in while food shopping. My daughter and u buy undies, sometimes footwear and I get a lot of my jeans too being plus size. I think the autograph ranges and limited collection are very good and I liked the Alexa stuff even though it was too small for me n not my styles. It’s all very negative the comments as though m and s is beneath people. Not everyone can afford more expensive quality brands. I think there is slways cool stuff if you look and you are creative with your wardrobe styling Ie adding it to vintage, secondhand and modern too.
    I love a bit of marks x

  24. In reply to Darcy’s comments, I am way off wealthy as I can no longer work and relatively broke most of the time. M&S is not beneath me as they used to be a fantastic store but their prices are too high for what they sell. However, with less money I prefer to buy in H&M, Zara, Massimo Dutti (sale!) and trawl charity shops for gorgeous bits and pieces. In an ideal world I would spend my money in Jigsaw – now, to my mind, they have got it spot on. Trust me, not all your ‘commentators’ are well heeled.

  25. I like the grey trench but wonder about the fabric quality . Years ago their jumpers lasted forever & it was first stop for basics but I don’t like the content or feel of many fabrics now( & where did the happy staff go ?) . Like the previous poster , I think Jigsaw is looking really good just now . They used to be too girly for me & I preferred Whistles but things have changed & the only items I pounce on in Whistles turn out to be for men – wish they would tweak some of them for women
    PS If M & S are reading this , could they improve the veggie ready meals section please . It’s a vast market these days & your selection is grim

  26. This M&S range is totally uninspiring. I have often wondered over the years,why they have so many fashion ranges EG, Per Una and Autograph,yet most of their designs are so unappealing. Loose fitting items just look terrible on me,because I am neither young or ‘willowy’ in stature and size. Culottes must be the worst fashion item ever. In my opinion, they suit no-one( I have worn them in the past) and I am sure they were first designed for lady cyclists in the 19th century and that’s where they belong!! Let’s have some older lady models please with more true to life shapes,as most of us probably have bigger bottoms or breasts than those featured.

  27. The jeans the model is wearing with the Leopard coat are exactly what I am looking for. So they will arrive in the Autumn?

  28. I have to say they look a lot better than I was expecting, however the quality of M&S really disappoints me usually. When I first came to the UK I was bemused and also more than a little bewildered by the loyalty shown to M&S despite the clothing they have tried to fob off on women over the years – either really static-y man-made or hard, scrunchy linen that doesn’t past the hand-crush test in store, and what the hell is with some of their prints (or rather prints on top of prints with maybe a side order of flunce and a few ruffles and some dangly bits). That means I would never even consider buying M&S online, so if I was even vaguely tempted by clothing modelled on people with a totally different body shape to myself I would have to brave going into one of their clothing stores…

    Last time I went into one of those in Glasgow I was less than impressed – I am not talking about a desire for plushy surrounds with carpet underfoot or nice lighting or less grotty changing rooms, just somewhere that is easy to navigate the crazy number of collections and whatnot (and maybe if the surroundings were a little less in the style of a latrine that would help)

    a reasonable start but long overdue and they’d still have to work harder to tempt me

  29. The clothes look nice in pictures but I,d never buy online as the fabric quality always disappoints and the cut is always weird. I don’t even buy undies there anymore because the bra sizing is all over the shop, and the styling went all garish boudoir. Yuk. The stores are a trial. They need to ditch Per Una for a start with its endless garish polyester ruffles and give the clothes that are half decent some space. I have started buying beauty products there though now that they stock REN etc. Like an earlier comment, I don’t know who they think their customers are. I’d like to see them do Hobbs like styling for everyday clothes but at a lower price point.

  30. If the grey trench delivers on quality when I find it in store it will be the first article of clothing I will have bought from M & S for a long time. Thanks, Alyson, for this.

  31. I can usually find something I like in M&S in the Limited, Autograph or Collection. I have never liked the Per Una range, way too flouncy particularly for my petite frame. My main complaint is over their sizing a) not enough small sizes available in my branch and b) inconsistency in sizing with some size 8’s just right and others that swamp me. I hope they are watching this blog and learning from the feedback. Perhaps they would like to recruit some of us as their customer advisors.

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