Once upon a time Marks and Spencer was somewhere you’d shop for food, maybe a t-shirt bra and the kids school uniform. These days however, things have changed. Marks and Spencer has a new Creative Director of Womenswear in post and things are really picking up for the high street giant.
With a new campaign and a national sweetheart fronting it, it seems Marks and Spencer has become pan-demographic in just one simple move. By putting Holly Willoughby front and centre and giving her one simple role; to pick out her favourite, key pieces from each Marks and Spencer drop and labelling it Holly’s Must Haves, before styling it and appearing in a very simple ‘Girl Next Door’ type campaign. Not over styled, not overshot, just very simple, worn as every girl buying off the peg would wear them. The idea? To create a complete capsule wardrobe from around 12-16 pieces to include clothing, accessories, shoes and outerwear. Simple.
Simple and lucrative. Very lucrative. With Holly’s star power rising by the day, especially since her stint on I’m A Celebrity – which is around the time this Winter edit first dropped, it seems everything she puts her name to is destined for success. So is this micro-collection any good? Remember, she hasn’t had any hand in the design process, it’s a simple edit of a wider collection. I was invited along for a private viewing the day before the collection launched at the Newcastle store and had the chance to try the pieces on and have a good look at the quality.
Actually, it’s exactly what you’d expect from M&S. It’s good quality, reliable, washable and affordable, as well as being reasonably ethical for something that’s pretty mass produced – Marks and Spencer have been named Most Ethical High street Retailer for Clothing since 2007. The trompe l’oeil A-line skirt is a standout piece for me, with its chunky belt it come’s in two lengths; regular or tall, I’ve opted for regular despite my 5’10.5 frame because the longer length looked a little frumpy on me and more like office wear. I’ve styled it exactly the same as the campaign shot, with the horizontal striped fine knit sweater tucked in. I also bought the fine knit pink roll neck which is a slightly finer grade knit and looks great with a high waisted denim jean.
These are my favourite pieces from this edit, the smallest edit so far consisting of just 12 pieces. However if you’re looking for something a little more formal you’ll find a cool scale mustard button down shirt, a pale pink Victoriana style flat fronted blouson with zipper detail at the wrists, and some really great basic black trousers that come in different lengths and promise to take you from office to bar. The whole collection is available in sizes 6-24 (kudos Marks and Spencer) that’s a pretty great variety of sizes right there, and the shoes go right up to a size 9 and include a wider fit too.
In terms of accessories you’ll find circle bags in soft buttery leather, shoes and boots. There’s also a coatigan that may have been better placed with an early Spring drop but it’s sure to sell out regardless with the power of Holly Willoughby in its coat tails!
The great thing about these edits is that they aren’t limited edition, they’re core collection. That means that they’ll be reproduced within that season, they’ve been selected as part of an edit within a micro collection and will continue to be restocked so if you see a piece that you like, the likelihood is that you’ll be able to get it either instore or online and if there’s some kind of Sparks offer running, these pieces are included, they aren’t put on a pedestal and held at full price.