When it comes to British fashion institutions, you don't get much more iconic than good 'ol Marks and Spencer. It's been there for us at every stage of life—from school shoes and first bras to grown-up winter coats and failsafe accessories. Not content to be known just for its underwear offering, however, this high-street giant has spent the last decade or so upping its style game, creating trend-led lines such as Autograph to please the fashion crowd.
As a team, we're not embarrassed to admit that we are M&S superfans, and we're always the first to spot and snap-up a trend from the site. Each of us has a specific product that we always return to season after season, be it winter coats, cosy loungewear or chunky boots—it's the ultimate proof of the brand's versatility and how its appeal spans the generations.
So with the new year on the horizon, take a leaf out of our book and hop over to your local M&S for a winning selection of hardworking staples that will serve you for many years to come. Classic, affordable, flattering and comfortable, these M&S buys really do have it all. Scroll down to see and shop our picks.
Emma Spedding, Editor: Coats
"Whether you're shopping in the men's or women's section, the tailoring is always an area than M&S excels in, and every single person in my family shops there for its winter coats. If you want a classic navy peacoat or wrap coat, then you just can't beat M&S, as they are warm, practical and smart. Every time I wear the beige oversized coat from Autograph that I got last year, many don't believe me when I tell them it's from Marksies. I know people who rarely shop on the high street, but if you look inside their coats, you'll often find a good 'ol M&S label."
"It's not the obvious choice, but it's worth noting how great M&S's tailoring is. The colours are always just right for the season. Currently, there are autumnal burnt oranges and sumptuous burgundy velvet jackets that you can wear as separates or with the matching trousers. But if you want something to last all year long, then you can also find classic checked suiting that genuinely looks fresh (I would always style with white sneakers and a T-shirt). Finally, I'd suggest sizing down, as it tends to be a bit on the generous side but that makes it even better for those with larger busts or curvy derrieres."
When it comes to shoes, I can be a bit of a diva, and when I say "diva" I don't mean I wear 6-inch stilettos every day—quite the opposite, in fact. I demand that the shoes I buy are both comfortable and look good. (Is that really too much to ask?) In my experience, this is easier said than done. However, over the last few years, M&S has been an unexpected saviour in this department, delivering designs that are trend-led as well as being durable, comfortable and affordable. My favourite style this season has to be the expensive-looking high-cut ballerina pumps, which I bought in black.
"Being new to London, this season I've had to rebuild my winter wardrobe from scratch. Everyone in the office was quick to tell me how great the cashmere selection is at M&S, so I'm planning to invest in a few jumpers to help get me through the imminent winter months. I've got my eye on a pastel-blue jumper and also have a beige roll-neck at the top of my list. I know they'll both come in handy once the temperature really starts to plummet."
"Ever since I can remember, my mum has placed a pair of new M&S pyjamas for me under the Christmas tree, and now my loungewear collection has grown (let's just say I'm a "walk in the door and throw on my comfiest trackies" kinda girl). I love M&S's cashmere joggers and jumpers, as they last forever and are still affordable. I'll be adding some more to my Christmas list this year."
"To my mind, there's only one place to shop on the high street for underwear and that's M&S. It's the place that I bought my very first bra, and although I've flirted with other lingerie brands over the years, when I want well-fitting, long-lasting, affordable underwear, I always come back to M&S. My underwear drawer is overflowing with pairs of its black cotton high-leg knickers for everyday wear, but I also swear by the Rosie for Autograph collection for pretty bra-and-knicker sets that feel a little more special. Plus, now that I'm pregnant, Marks and Spencer have been the perfect place to shop for simple maternity bras that don't cost the earth. (Shout-out to its in-store bra-fitting service too!)"