Welcome to The Great Try-On. With spring well and truly in the air, we seized the opportunity to try on some of the best new-in pieces from some of your favourite brands, documenting the process along the way. We believe that the best way to shop online is to see an item IRL and to read candid reviews, so we hope that this leads you to your most successful purchases of the year.
If you've been following our Great Try-On series thus far, you'll have seen some of the very best new-in pieces and honest reviews of our editors' favourite brands, but if there's one that I'm confident you're going to love, it's this one. While we're in the midst of navigating an unseasonably chilly spring, what you need from your wardrobe is hard-working staples that are both versatile and practical, and for me, there was only one place in mind.
Now, on to the brand that needs no introduction, the titan of the high street—Marks and Spencer. For those who are already committed M&S fans, it's no surprise to see the store on our go-to list. After all, some of the year's most popular buys have come out of the store, and it remains one of the few places on the high street to tackle the biggest runway and street style trends in an accessible and wearable way. Last summer's fisherman sandals and raffia bags? Back in stock just in time for spring. Seasonal staples like the leather blazer, trench coat and cashmere knit? M&S has always been my first choice for premium quality. The buzzy, of-the-moment trends like kitten-heel slingbacks and ballet flats? Once again, I found the best at Marks, so it stands to reason that, when it came to choosing my top picks for The Great Try-On, M&S was a no-brainer.
Eager to try on the best that the store had to offer, I spent hours trying on pieces to put together an edit of the ones that stood out for all of the right reasons. Keep scrolling for the very best tops, jackets, jeans and accessories that Marks and Spencer has to offer. You won't regret it.
My Review: If you imagine all of the best bits of a biker jacket (the fit, the hardware, the durability) and take away the worst (excessive heaviness and shapelessness), you've got this Autograph jacket. A lot of the time, high-street leather can err too far on the cheap side, producing flimsy, plasticky-smelling jackets that aren't worth even the low price point, but it's clear M&S has invested a little more into this design. To come up with a real leather jacket that doesn't cost £500 and still feels premium is a stroke of genius. I stayed true to size, but if I were to buy this (and I just might), I'd size up a couple of sizes for an oversized fit.
On the bottom, I'm wearing what should be considered an M&S staple—the Sienna jeans. As the Jamie was to Topshop and the Pinch Waist is to Agolde, these are easily my favourite pair, leaving just enough room at the ankle to not be considered skinny. If you're looking for softer jeans that work with curves as opposed to thick, unyielding, rigid denim, these should be on your list.
My Review: I must confess: I have always hated denim jackets, but I realise that it comes down to the execution more than the concept. I love the look of double denim and often wear a denim shirt tucked into my jeans, but I hadn't found a jacket that I thought worked with the look until now. Perhaps it's the longline fit or utility details, but this jacket feels like it has a vintage look that separates it from the standard jean jacket. Even though the wash doesn't exactly match any pairs I could find on the shop floor, I'd be equally keen to wear this with a jersey maxi skirt and flatform sliders through the rest of spring.
My Review: Hands down, this is my favourite piece so far. Everything about the dress says "summer, but make it chic." Picturing this dress wafting around Santorini or on a beach in Bali is equal parts frustrating and inspirational, as I don't have any holidays booked, but this feels too good to relegate to my back garden. It's light, airy and so stylishly minimal that I think of at least 10 different ways to accessorise the look. This dress's strengths lie in its simplicity, and its universal appeal means it will look good on any body, age, or style, which is something that M&S does best.
My Review: Just when I thought that the trench coat was the ultimate transitional outer layer, along came this incredibly chic car coat to change my mind. It's similar enough to the trench to feel like a versatile wardrobe staple but different enough to feel entirely fresh. And honestly, I prefer it to the number of bells and whistles that most trenches seem to have by default.
Under the trench are two pieces that I would urge any and everyone to buy from M&S this season. First is the waistcoat, one of the stars of the brand's S/S 23 campaign and a delightfully summery take on tailoring. Next are the straight-leg trousers with added stretch, and the fit is impeccable. As someone of average height (I'm around 5'6"), you'd think the odds would be in my favour when it comes to trouser shopping, but I find it near on impossible to find a pair that elegantly pools around my shoe instead of showing three inches of ankle. Enter Marks and Spencer's straight-leg trousers. The perfect fit accommodates my waist and hips but also gives me the puddle-pant effect I so desperately wanted, so I can definitely wear them with heels. It's a win-win.
My Review: I have several blazers from M&S that I've amassed over the years, but they all have one thing in common—they're all beige or black. Taking the leap of faith and trusting in the store's tailoring as faithfully as I do, I decided to go against my aversion to coloured blazers and try something new, and although I'm not entirely sold on the idea of a mint-green blazer, I do feel a little bit happier looking in the mirror. Spring colours can have this effect on us, and after months of tonal cashmere, swapping out grey for green feels freeing and optimistic. Wary of trying head-to-toe pistachio, I decided to ground the pastel with a navy skirt (there are matching trousers for those inclined), and the overall effect is fresher than my old black suit. My only qualm, though? Single-breasted jackets. If I'm not wearing a T-shirt under my blazer, I'll usually opt for something low-cut like a camisole, and a single-breasted jacket shows a little too much.
My Review: Call me predictable, but if I could steal the wardrobe of anyone on Instagram, my list would include a lot of Parisians. There is a certain je ne sais quoi when it comes to French-girl styling, and one of their hero pieces, the tweed jacket, might be the key to perfecting this polished aesthetic. Or at least that's what I told myself when I spotted this navy jacket hanging on the rail. There's something grown-up about this jacket, particularly with slingback heels, and even a white T-shirt feels business casual when worn with it. But had I seen the cream colourway while I was browsing, I would have really been sold. Perfect for spring? Check. Looks expensive? Check. A timeless piece you can wear again and again? Triple check. Excuse me while I just nip back to the store…