I Tried on 50 Items From My Favourite High-Street Labels—Here's What I Loved

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!

The Great British high street's taken a bit of a battering recently, with the last 12 months seeing a constant barrage of negative headlines that speak of plummeting sales figures and ominous threats of closures en-masse. Meanwhile, consumers are increasingly eschewing bricks and mortar stores and instead sourcing all their clothing needs from online platforms. It's not looking good. 

Of course, like any good millennial, I regularly take advance of ASOS's generous new-in section and use the Topshop app to compile my wish lists, but at heart, I'm a shopping traditionalist. You simply cannot beat the experience of browsing a rail, coming across an unexpected gem and simply trying things on things IRL. Yes, shopping online is convenient, but it's all too easy to end up in a sartorial echo chamber, whereby you only see the brands or styles you like thanks to clever (read: terrifying) algorithms that know you better than you know yourself. 

A perfect example of the joys of real life shopping has to be Oxford Circus' John Lewis store (scratch that—make that any John Lewis store). Reminding me of shopping for school shoes with my mum, the British retail giant has always felt oddly comforting: A world where cashmere rubs shoulders with toilet roll holders, scented candles and puzzles. Add to this the fact that it boasts an impressive range of high street fashion brands—think Whistles, Ghost and Finery—and roomy, clean changing rooms, it's enough to make anyone want to move in.

Filled with nostalgia for memories of shopping trip's past, I decided to host my latest try on in John Lewis' Oxford Circus flagship. After a bit of browsing, it became clear to me that there were three brands that stood out from the rest: Whistles, Kin and the stores' namesake brand, John Lewis & Partners. I was particularly enamoured by Kin, a lesser-known subsection of the John Lewis oeuvre, and a dream for minimalists in need of summer staples. 

I also got a chance to try out the store's swanky Style Studio changing rooms, and would highly recommend for a generally more relaxing in-store shopping experience. Who knows? Maybe you'll fall back in love with IRL shopping all over again—I know I have. Scroll down to see and shop my edit of the best pieces from Whistles, John Lewis & Partners and Kin. 

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: This is one of the few Kin pieces that didn't come super-oversized, which might be a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective. I loved the clean-lined silhouette and nipped-in waist. Super easy to wear and oh-so cool. 

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: Orange is not a colour I would usually reach for, but there was something about the crinkled silky fabric that made this co-ord look so high-end. Light and flowy, it would be fab for a dress-up-dress-down pairing on holiday.

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: Who doesn't own at least one Breton top? It's the fashion classic that has stood the test of time and is definitely my go-to for low-key weekend style. An A-line midi skirt is an easy way to elevate the Breton and make it feel a little more polished. 

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: I'm so sad that they didn't have this in my size because I think if it fit properly, it would've been a real beauty—however, you still get the gist. The square neckline, fitted waist and full skirt make me feel very Audrey Hepburn, which is never a bad thing. 

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: I first spotted this dress on the lovely Alexis Foreman, and I knew I had to see it IRL. If florals and fringing don't do it for you in the summer style stakes, then Kin is the place for you. I particularly liked the grid print and tiered skirt on this midi dress. The style is current out of stock, but you can shop a similar style here.

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: Pleated midi skirts and roomy shirts are one of my favourite pairings this season—as are vibrant hues combined with muted shades of beige. This John Lewis & Partners maxi suddenly feels a whole lot cooler when offset with a classic grandad collar shirt. 

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: This is exactly what Whistles is doing too well this season: trend-led silhouettes in fun, wearable prints. I admit, I'm a bit of a sucker for a bit of shirred detailing, and this floral co-ord is both comfy (seriously, it feels like wearing pyjamas) and flattering.

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: My attitude to off-the-shoulder tops has been somewhat ambivalent, however when rendered in black and paired with a linen skirt, it feels altogether more expensive. This would be another fab option for holidays.

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: Despite not being a kaftan person (I'd much rather wear an oversized men's shirt over a bikini), this Kin number might just persuade me otherwise. I like the abstract print and roomy fit, which feels less naff than the classic tassels and fringing.

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: I told you I was into colours and beige. When I'm heading out for Sunday brunch but don't fancy wearing a dress, this is what I'll throw on: a neon cami top paired with high-waisted, tailored beige trousers and chunky sandals. 

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: We're officially in wedding season, and this Whistles bow-tie number is perfect for summer nuptials. I'd style with heeled strappy sandals and a beaded bag for the big day, then swap in tan sandals and a raffia tote for more casual occasions. 

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: The high street is all over the utility jacket right now, and I couldn't be happier. I like how this oversized Kin pairing is made to feel summery thanks to its whitewashed hue. It's simply begging to be worn with Birkenstocks and square sunnies. Just note that the trousers come up super large, so best to size down. 

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: I love a good sculptural-fit frock, and Kin has them in abundance. With the oversized sleeves and waist tie, this midi has plenty of kimono vibes, and I bet it would feel so light and airy during a heatwave. The style is current out of stock, but you can shop a similar style here

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: Yup, John Lewis just keeps knocking it out the park this season. This two-tone dress comes with a waist-tie, but I think it looks more dramatic left loose. The colour clashing only helps to make the whole thing look more high-end—all it needs is a chunky gold necklace and flat sandals. 

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: This has got to be one of the more flattering shorts suits I've come across on the high street this year. The blazer is just the right amount of oversized, while the shorts are a flattering high-waisted and thigh-skimming fit. 

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: It might not be the most subtle thing in the world, but I couldn't resist including this vibrant yellow skirt by Whistles. The fabric hung beautifully (although there was a slight bump where the zip was) and had a lovely figure-skimming fit. 

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: This linen dress didn't look like much on the hanger, but when I put it, on I felt a million dollars. I would recommend belting it to emphasise the dramatic asymmetric hemline and generally give the dress a bit more shape. An unexpected winner.