When it comes to shopping for dresses, there are a few brands I regularly rely upon. I trust Reformation to cater to my fuller bust, & Other Stories to deliver pretty options to suit my budget and Ghost to create the easiest throw-ons to elevate my daily wears. These are a few of the labels I love and make a beeline for whenever I'm looking to up my dress game. However, recently, I've found that many of the best dresses I see on social media come from another store: Marks and Spencer.
If you're an avid Who What Wear UK reader, then you'll know our editors have a serious soft spot for M&S. From its lingerie to its cashmere, its jeans to its various clothing collections, the high-street hot spot never lets us down when we need a sartorial pick-me-up or a basics refresh. And right now, Marks and Spencer is serving up some of the best dresses for the warm weather that's currently in the forecast.
Between the sunny spring skies and the impending bank holiday, I was keen to update my dress roster. So naturally, I turned to M&S and decided to try on its best-selling dresses of the season. In the interest of being transparent, I'm 5'3" and a size 12 with curves. I ordered each of the dresses in a 12, but I could have sized down in all of them. M&S is one of the few high-street stores where 10s are an option for me, so if you too are between sizes, I recommend opting for the smaller.
Now that we've got the facts straight, let's turn our attention to the dresses that truly impressed me. Some tap into my penchant for neutral tones, while others, well, I was surprised at just how much I loved them. Scroll on to read my honest reviews of the best Marks and Spencer dresses to buy now.
1. POLKA-DOT SQUARE-NECK
Style Notes: This M&S dress has been doing the rounds on social media, so I was keen to try it for myself. The material is lovely, lightweight, and just the sort of thing I’d want to wear on a warm day. I also like the white base to the black polka dots, as it makes what can often feel like quite a wintry print more springlike. I’m a big fan of puff sleeves, square necklines and shirred bodices, so this dress really does have a lot going for it. I would have liked the shirring to continue down the waist slightly to give a more fitted appearance, but that might be personal preference, as my waist is the part of my body I like highlighting most. All in all, though, this dress impressed me.
2. SATIN FLORAL
Style Notes: As someone who largely avoids wearing bright colours, I was surprised at just how much I loved this dress. The print is bold but doesn’t feel OTT, and the colours used to create the painterly floral motif work together beautifully. The satin fabrication is perfectly weighted—enough so that it's not flimsy nor sheer—which meant it hung with intent and created a chic silhouette. It certainly feels fancy enough to be a wedding guest dress, too. So much so I’m tempted to snap up the blue iteration while I’m at it.
3. LEOPARD HIGH-NECK
Style Notes: I fully subscribe to the notion that leopard print is a neutral, but even those most tentative to try the motif will be impressed by this midi. The leopard spots are subtle from afar but still make an impact when you’re up close. I also like how the print is made up of just two colours—black for the spots and a neutral taupe for the base—so it doesn’t feel overdone or clashy. I’m into high necklines, and this mock neck is perfect for spring days when the sun might be shining, but there’s still a chill in the air. Empire waistlines are something I often struggle with, as my big bust means the silhouette doesn’t drape quite as intended, but on this dress, the empire cut has been perfectly positioned so as to enhance the figure, not disguise it. Plus, it has puff sleeves. Sold.
4. TIE-DYE SMOCK
Style Notes: M&S calls the print on this dress tie-dye, which it technically is, but I feel the word ombré is more accurate. The graduation from the deep navy shoulders to the cream hemline is done so well that if I didn’t know better I would have assumed it to be designer. I enjoy the belted waistline and the subtle embroidery on the balloon sleeves. The only drawback? I would have liked it either a little longer or a little shorter, as I find knee-lengths do nothing for me. This is personal preference, of course, but worth noting should you feel the same and are a similar height to me—to reiterate, I’m around 5’3”.
5. UTILITY SHIRT
Style Notes: Shirt dresses are something I always reach for come spring, and in a versatile khaki-green shade, this dress has my name written all over it. I love how it can be dressed up just as easily as it can down—simply swap out the flat slider sandals for a pair of platforms or strappy sandals, and you’re good to go.
6. TIERED MIDAXI
Style Notes: I don’t often opt for spaghetti straps—I hate not wearing a bra, and unless I’m going to a wedding where I’m wearing a special dress that requires one, the last thing I want to strap myself into is, ironically, a strapless bra. However, for a dress this beautiful, I could be convinced otherwise. Between the colour, the print, the silhouette and the cotton poplin fabrication, this dress feels genuinely high-end.
7. DITSY WRAP
Style Notes: With a bigger bust and wide hips, I favor wrap dresses when I’m not sure how something will fit, mainly because the tie detail makes them easier to cinch in and better fit your frame. This, however, is not a regular wrap dress. The skirt is actually sewn in place, and the tie-waist is just for show. The dress actually fastens with an concealed zip to the side. Still, this has its perks. For once, I don’t have to worry about the crossover top becoming loose, revealing more than I intended to. And no gust of wind is going to blow open that skirt, either. Behold the wrap dress made practical.
MORE M&S DRESSES I HAVE MY EYE ON