Welcome to The Great Try-On. With autumn 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.
It's reasonable to assume that we editors like to shop, but our overexposure to fashion items means many of us are fussier than you might think. Between wanting to buy less and wear what I already own more—and saving myself some money in the process—I buy very little. And when I do, instead, I invest in pieces I really want, as opposed to getting a short-term fix. This, however, can have its setbacks. When I do shop, seldom will I order more than one piece at a time. When it does arrive, I'll weigh it against the clothes currently hanging on my rails or the accessories lined up in my walk-in (read: airing cupboard) to see if there's a place for it. Admittedly, said item often gets sent back.
You may have noticed that "order" was the operative word in the previous paragraph. I live on the outskirts of a city; as such, much of my shopping is conducted online. I rarely venture into town to try things on. This might suit my "I'm just too busy" lifestyle and ultimately soften the urge and temptation to treat myself to new things, but it also means I waste a lot of time searching for pieces I like, only for them not to fit correctly or go with what I already own when they eventually arrive. So when our team decided to collectively try on the latest collections from the brands we feature most regularly, I was excited; excited to get my hands on some new pieces and test them out before committing to them. I picked & Other Stories, a brand I always gravitate toward, blocked out some time in my diary, packed a variety of underwear in a tote bag and hopped on the next train into town.
Out of all the high-street stores, & Other Stories is the one that, without fail, I can always find something I like in. You're more likely to catch me in a dress-and-blazer outfit than anything else, so naturally, the pieces I already own from & Other Stories tend to fall into those categories. Now I think about it, actually, I also own a few shoes and bags from the brand, all of which have lasted in terms of quality and design timelessness. Indeed, things were off to a promising start. And they were—the moment I crossed the shop's threshold, so many pieces caught my eye. I always love dressing for autumn, and I think that's the season that & Other Stories comes into its own, too. Woollen coats, midi dresses, tailoring and boots—oh, the boots!—I was smitten with it all.
I'll get into the nuances of my try-on as I break down every outfit I wore, but one thing I want to touch on is & Other Stories' sizing. As I've already outlined, I seldom shop, and when I do, it's often by one piece at a time. So I've never really noticed a pattern in & Other Stories' sizing—anything that didn't fit, I'd return without much thought. However, after spending more than two hours in its changing rooms, it would be remiss of me not to mention it. I'm a pretty true UK size 12, and I love my figure, but that wasn't always the case. I've spent a lot of time and energy becoming comfortable with my body, and I'm proud to say I have a healthy relationship with it now. However, standing looking at my reflection in the mirror as I struggled to pull a pair of trousers several sizes bigger than my usual over my thighs, I'm not over-admitting I was disheartened. I shouldn't have been, but I was. I'm more than willing to size up if need be, but if I find it difficult to shop there, I have to wonder how many others have no option but to write it off completely. Other editors have told me they also find & Other Stories sizing can be challenging. However, that being said, I do find some & Other Stories pieces tend to be more accurate. Dresses, for example, generally fit in my regular size—trousers and skirts, however, are less predictable. You might have no issue with it, but in the interest of being honest, I wanted to highlight my own experience.
I'd love to see & Other Stories expand into a more diverse size range. Its clothes are beautiful and some of the best quality I think the high street has to offer, which makes the limited sizing more of a letdown. Still, there are absolutely pieces I think you should see—here's what I thought was worth recommending, with as much transparency around the sizing as possible.
1. Stripe Knit + Wide-Leg Trousers
My Review: Let's start things on a high, shall we? Few knitwear trends feels as timeless as Breton jumpers, and & Other Stories has plenty to choose from for the season ahead. I've been contemplating investing in Totême's iteration, but having tried this option on for myself, I think it's just as good (not to mention a quarter of the price!). It is deliberately designed to be oversized, which it is. I picked up a medium, and although it hangs beautifully due to the weight of the purls, you could absolutely size down, too. The trousers I paired it with, however, are another thing entirely. I have pretty shapely thighs and often size up to achieve a more comfortable fit, though I can usually get away with my regular size in wide-leg styles. In this pair, however, a 14 felt tighter than I would like it to. Saying that, they certainly look chic.
2. Wool Trench Coat + Classic Jeans
My Review: Admittedly, I already own a trench coat, but a woollen trench coat? There's a gap in my outerwear collection where this coat would slip in perfectly. Some of my favourite coats from the last seven or so years have come from & Other Stories—the brand does them well and crafts them beautifully—and this style is no exception. It's slightly oversized, and I found there to be only slight differences between the 12 and the 14. Depending on the thickness of your favourite winter jumpers or whatever you envisage pairing it with, I reckon, if you're between sizes like I am, you could opt for either. As far as jeans go, I'm usually a 30 waist, and I was shocked to discover the 30 in & Other Stories Favourite Cut Jeans fit me just fine. In fact, I possibly could have opted for a 29. Maybe I've been jumping to conclusions on its sizing after all? Only time (and persevering with my try-on) will tell…
3. Ribbed Dress + Shoulder Bag
My Review: I've been looking for the perfect knitted dress for a while now, but none has ever been quite right. They've either been too heavy or not heavy enough, too tight or too unshapely. I'm sure you're discerning that I'm quite fussy when it comes to buying things. However, the moment I slipped this on, I knew it was The One. The weave has enough weight to it for it to contour the body without feeling too restricting. I also love the neckline. Generally, I find sweetheart necklines are too wide or low for my liking, but this one sits just so and covers my somewhat cumbersome 32G bra perfectly. Genuinely, I can't fault it. Oh, and the 12 was ideal, too.
4. Skirt Suit + Platform Boots
My Review: Miniskirts are back, but as someone who doesn't consider their legs to be their best feature, I seldom wear anything that falls above the knee. However, I fell in love with this blazer-and-skirt set the moment I walked into the store, and seeing as I'd packed a backup pair of tights should this sort of situation arise, I thought why not try the co-ord on? The blazer was dreamy—expertly cut and just the sort of thing I'd throw on daily with jeans, a jumper (which you could easily layer underneath) and a pair of loafers. The skirt, however? I could barely get it over my thighs and bum only for it to gape at the waist. It wasn't the one for me, but might be for you.
Seeing as I was giving a raised hemline a whirl, I thought why not pair it with knee boots? I've been debating investing in a new pair of boots for 2022 and have been keeping my eye out for platform options. I'm only 5'3", and I'm always here for a little extra height. I'm between a 37 and a 38 in shoes, but my local store only had the latter in stock. While I might be tempted to go for the 37 should I follow through with a purchase, I had no issues zipping them up over my calves, which is always a delight. The leather feels soft but not delicately so, while the stacked sole height is just right for walking in. Throw in a squared-off toe, and I was very tempted to buy them then run to Boots for a pair of insoles.
5. Knitted Dress + Ankle Boots
My Review: I've already found one great knitted dress on the & Other Stories rails—am I tempting fate by trying to find another? Perhaps. This dress caught my eye thanks to its ultra-soft fabrication and expensive-looking colourway. I picked it up in a 12 and assumed it might be a little snug around the stomach. Turns out it wasn't too tight at all—in fact, I'd say it was almost too loose around the bust. Just to recap, I wear a 32G-size bra, and it was too big on me? Although it looks and feels expensive, two things that are very important to me in every purchase, if I had to choose between this knitted dress and the one I wore above, it's no contest.
6. Belted Jacket + Black Trousers + Loafers
My Review: I just turned 33, so perhaps I'm now adult enough to own a cream woollen jacket? I certainly hope so, as this is the very thing I treated myself to after my try-on (with my birthday money, as fortune would have it!). There were only a couple of these left on the shop floor—always a sign of a good buy—and, handily, a medium was one of them. I think I've already established that my thighs and bum seem to be the area I struggle with in terms of & Other Stories clothes, so while I think you could generally size down in this style, if you're also shapely in this area, I'd go with your usual size. Impossibly chic and versatile, this was love at first sight. Pieces like this don't land on the high street very often, and I was not going to miss out on it. For the sake of the try-on, I grabbed a pair of black tailored trousers (which, yes, were also a little tight on the thighs) and really liked how luxury-looking the entire ensemble felt.
7. Black Dress
My Review: As someone with a few black dresses hanging in their wardrobe, it takes something pretty special to convince me to spend my money on another. Look closely, and you'll see this gathered jersey number comes with a gold chain already fixed around the neckline. It's details like this I'd commonly associate with designer brands but that & Other Stories also does so well. In terms of sizing, I'd say it's pretty true, so go with your usual. I really loved the draped bodice and waistline; something that keeps cropping up on the season's chicest dresses.
8. Sheer Shirt + Tailored Trousers
For my last look, I wanted to pick something I wouldn't ordinarily wear. Cue a sheer burgundy tie-front shirt dress! I don't wear a lot of colour, save perhaps olive green and denim blue, but this shade of burgundy caught my eye. Size-wise, I found it a little tight where the last tie sits, but by this point, I wasn't shocked. I styled it up with a knitted vest top (which was very nice by the way—an easy update to your usual jeans-and-T-shirt looks), and the black trousers I picked up for my cream jacket fit. Likewise, the trousers felt somewhat snug around by bum and thighs, but the cut itself was sleek. So much so, I'm considering investing in the bigger size and having the waist taken in. That, or the quest for the perfect black trouser will have to continue.