Scottish Daily Mail

Would you guess it’s M&S?

Bold new looks – if you can track them down

- CHAR­LOTTE KEMP

THE LEATHER DRES

Leather dress by Au­to­graph, £229, Lace-up heels, £29.50 NO MAT­TER how I stand, sadly I can’t es­cape the fact that I look like a stumpy Tu­dor peas­ant in this.

NOTHINg beats this for one up­man­ship. A stylish friend asks me where my new lace top is from; a col­league ad­mires my cosy, black cape with fash­ion­able fring­ing; a pair of silk heels worn at a din­ner party sparks an on­line shop­ping stam­pede.

On each oc­ca­sion, when I’m asked the ques­tion ‘Where’s that from?’, I’ve smugly replied:

‘You’ll never guess — it’s M&S’. it’s so sat­is­fy­ing, i’m start­ing to think the much-loved — and much crit­i­cised — high Street cloth­ing be­he­moth should adopt this as its new slo­gan.

For, the truth is, shop­ping at M&S takes some skill. the gems and clas­sics are def­i­nitely there, you just need to find them.

i lit­er­ally stum­bled across the black lace num­ber on the way to the es­ca­la­tors, but it’s a real win­ner. the lace is su­per-soft, there’s a clever un­der­layer that con­ceals your muf­fin top and you can throw it in the wash at 30 de­grees with your smalls.

When i tell style di­rec­tor Belinda Earl how dif­fi­cult it can be to find these trea­sures out­side Lon­don, she says they’re ‘work­ing hard to en­sure all stores have pieces that re­flect the key trends’.

Much is rid­ing on the spring col­lec­tion (avail­able in the new Year) af­ter the re­cent an­nounce­ment that sales in M&S’s gen­eral mer­chan­dise cat­e­gory, which in­cludes cloth­ing, have fallen by 1.2 per cent — the fifth year of de­cline. the good news is there wasn’t a sin­gle out­fit i didn’t want to try on. My quib­ble is with some of the ‘hero’ pieces which i was the first to trial. Can real women carry them off?

i tried this sum­mer’s much-her­alded suede skirt, as worn by Alexa Chung, but it did noth­ing for me. And the leather dress, which has been billed as the next ‘big’ M&S thing, will only re­ally suit lithe young ’uns, too. But that’s fine. they won’t be clam­our­ing for the pale blue shift dress i’ve got my eye on. For lovers of loungewear, there’s a real treat com­ing up — the suc­cess­ful Rosie for Au­to­graph lin­gerie col­lec­tion by model Rosie hunt­ing­ton-White­ley now fea­tures a beau­ti­fully de­tailed Ac­tive range, which in­cludes a pretty sports bra and a luxe sweat­shirt.

And if the leather dress can’t save M&S, then the flirty new knicker shape, the Rio, will. its sweet­heart-shaped back cre­ates the il­lu­sion of a curvier der­riere — sug­gest­ing that, at last, M&S is get­ting it’s act to­gether from the bot­tom up.

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