I Tried Every Autumnal Item at & Other Stories, M&S and H&M—Here's What I'd Buy

Here at Who What Wear UK, we're all about delivering the latest and greatest shopping edits, as approved by our team. That's why we've created a new shopping column, The Joy of Shopping, which will see me, Joy Montgomery, heading to all your favourite stores to test out new-in pieces IRL. From summer dresses to the brands you might've forgotten about, prepare for changing room selfies aplenty. Is there something you'd like me to cover? Make sure to tweet or Instagram me your requests!

There's a change in the air, and I don't just mean the cool winds of autumn. It's fair to say that over the last year, the foundations upon which the fashion industry has been built have been thoroughly shaken. Sustainability is the word at the eye of the storm, and it's a storm that has pushed fashion lovers everywhere to take a long hard look at their relationship with consumption.

It's clear that the high street needs to switch gears, whether that's in relation to the fabrics it uses or the way it manages stock. Thankfully, big conglomerates such as Inditex are taking steps in the right direction, recently announcing its ambition to use 100% sustainable fabrics by 2025, but we've still got a long way to go. As a fashion editor, this has been a subject at the forefront of my mind, particularly as we head into a new season: Can I really enjoy the fresh thrill of new clothing without compromising my efforts to reduce my carbon footprint?

While I'm all for the "buy less, buy better" approach, I can't help but feel that it's unrealistic to expect the average person to invest in a thousand pound Stella McCartney coat. Ultimately, we need to find a way to make our wardrobes more sustainable without having to remortgage our homes. After all, why should affordable mean throwaway? I'd say 99% of my wardrobe is made up of high-street buys, which have been lovingly stored and re-worn for years.

Alongside shopping secondhand and renting our wardrobes, we simply need to make more considered purchases—making sure we have a clear idea of what we already own and what's going to stand the test of time. And trends? There's no reason you can't enjoy the mood of the moment. Just ask yourself this: Would I buy this if it wasn't on-trend? Will I still love it in a year's time? For me, that means saying no to cargo trousers, but yes to fringed jackets (I've always been a sucker for anything with a '70s spin).

Fashion will always be a source of joy for me (no pun intended), and I'll always be like a kid in a sweet shop when it comes to buying a winter coat. But this season I'm trying to ignore what the world (and Instagram) are telling me to buy and really think before I add to something to my basket. I'm still working it out, and I'm by no means perfect, but we all have to start somewhere, right?

With this in mind, for my big autumn edit, I've tried to pick pieces that I feel have longevity. The result? Plenty of versatile staples alongside the odd party piece for those much-needed look-at-me moments. Scroll down to see. P.S. my boots are an old pair from Zara!

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, eat your heart out because M&S's autumn collection is a utopia of expensive-looking staples. This coat is made from a heavy-weight fabric and fits like a dream. Just add a slouchy shearling tote, and no one need know it costs less than £100. 

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: I feel a bit like a character from Alice in Wonderland in this fabulous two-piece. The lettered print is so unusual, but I don't feel like it would look out of date in a year's time, because it's not attached to a specific trend. The perfect fashionable party piece. Okay, if you must know, I bought both. 

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: The puffed sleeve shows no sign of slowing down for autumn. I like the monochrome simplicity of this & Other Stories blouse, which is cleverly fitted on the arms to balance out the shoulders. I'd wear this with colour-match trousers or skirt.

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: I've had my eye on this shirtdress for ages, and it didn't disappoint IRL. The shirred detailing on the sleeves and waistline elevates the classic silhouette while also adding shape. Just be warned that it does emphasise the hips, so maybe avoid if you're not so keen on that area. 

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: All I want to be wearing this autumn is high-waisted wide-leg trousers. They're so flattering and comfortable and look instantly polished. Case in point: This H&M houndstooth pair will look good with everything from a white tee to a chunky knit. 

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: M&S seems to be delivering a winning suit every season, and my latest favourite has to be this chocolate brown iteration. Coming in a slightly oversized fit, it packs plenty of retro appeal with the double-breasted style and throwback hue. Wear with a chunky necklace and pointed boots. 

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: Heritage checks seem to be the print of the moment when it comes to A/W 19 coats, which is lucky because they will age well. I like the statement lapel of this & Other Stories coat, and the colour palette will ensure it works with multiple outfits. 

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: Okay, you might have to forgive this detour into trend territory, but I have a bit of a soft spot for tulle. I've styled this Stories number over a nude-coloured slip to make it more wearable, and I love the effect of it showing underneath the tailored blazer. It would also look cute with heels for a party.

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: There's something about the pleated fabric on this LBD that feels so expensive, especially when paired with my fave chunky necklace. It would look just as good over black trousers as it would with bare legs and strappy sandals. 

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: This skirt is so dreamy. The suede fabric is buttery soft and comes in an A-line silhouette that will flatter all body types. I've styled it with M&S's checked bomber jacket—they only had a size 16, so I've had to embrace the oversized look, but it works!

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: I've come over all Princess Di in this pie crust collar dress. I never usually go for such a bright hue, but I realised that a large proportion of my picks were in muted shades, so I wanted to add in pop of colour. And you know what? I'm totally sold.

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: Sometimes you just need some failsafe staples, and you can't really go wrong with M&S in this category. I can imagine wearing this checked blazer with a crewneck knit and jeans when winter arrives.

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: H&M's studio collection has already sold out online, but there are still plenty of items in-store. One of my favourite pieces has to be this oversized fringed coat, which will be so cosy when the mercury drops.

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: The dress-over-trouser look was a popular pairing last fashion week, and it's one I plan on re-creating this season. M&S's blue checked dress is perfect for this purpose, as it comes in a simple silhouette that blends seamlessly with a pair of tailored trousers. 

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: Neon has been one of those trends that has taken me by surprise. Somehow, the moment you pair it with a chunky knit, it suddenly looks so premium and creates an ideal textural contrast to H&M's floaty pleated skirt. Shop a similar style below. 

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: There were many exclamations of joy when I showed this photo to the team. The coat is a sort of mix between a trench and a classic wool overcoat, making it ideal for this tricky in-between season period. The success lies in its simplicity.