My Guide To The High Street Part 1.

I don’t claim to be an expert, but you should all know by now that to say ‘I enjoy a quick whizz around the shops’ would be somewhat of an understatement. I like to think that my experience of shopping the UK high street over many years gives me the right to share some of my thoughts and advice.

The UK High Street is second to none when it comes to choice, style and price. There really is something for everyone, but some shops do certain things better than others. Some shops have a lot of trouble with sizing (hello H&M, I’m looking at you). Some shops get it spot on. Here’s an attempt to help you make sense of it all. I’ll stick with the shops I go to regularly or else we will be here all day. I’ve already had to split this post in to 2 parts as there are so many, so let’s get started…

MARKS AND SPENCER

Sometimes M&S just doesn’t know what it’s doing, there are too many different departments within the ladies-wear section. it all very confusing. BUT I’ve always maintained there are some diamonds to be found in the rough. Give Indigo and Per Una a wide berth and head to Autograph or the Limited Collection.

Cotton Trench Coat £79.00
Wool Blend Tapered trousers £39.00
White Wide Leg Trousers £35.00

BEST FOR:
Wide Leg Trousers .They come in different lengths, why does no-one else do that?
Coats. Always well cut and great quality.
Shirts. particularly from the Autograph collection, they sometimes do ones that have secret buttons so your busoms can be better contained. Bonus!

NOT SO GOOD FOR:
Linen Slacks with elasticated waistbands
Anything with too much of a pattern. There’s a good chance you will bump into Mabel from number 76 (who is actually 76) wearing the same thing.
Footglove. Save them for when you are a pensioner.

SIZING:
Always seems to come up large, I have a Trench coat  that is a size 8 and still a bit big, as a rule I always go down one size.

 

COS

I love Cos. I like to think I’m ‘Mrs Clean Lines’. I’m not really, as my heart also skips a beat at Floral tea dresses…It went off the boil quite a bit last year. Too many patterns, not enough good trousers. This year however, it’s massively back on track with the minimalist classic styles we’ve come to love it for.

Green & White Stripe Top £25
Green Cropped Wide Leg Trousers £69.00
Navy Wool Tailored Trousers £48 (on sale!)

BEST FOR:
White Shirts with a twist
Classic Cropped and Tailored trousers. Cos do the BEST trousers.
Smart Minimalist dresses
Accessories, In particular the leather handbags
Striped long sleeve T-Shirts, they have load and they are great

NOT SO GOOD FOR:
Coats. I’m sure they appeal to some people but they seem too big and itchy for me.
Shoes. They look great, but every pair I have bought have been unbearably uncomfortable.

SIZING:
Pretty spot on, occasionally I need to go down a size on the looser fitting shirts for fear of looking a bit tent-like, but that’s kind of the style with Cos.

& OTHER STORIES

Probably my favourite High Street Store. There are many reasons for this, primarily I like that they don’t have hundreds of shops here yet. You won’t see every Tom, Dick and Sally wearing the same threads as you. The design is very good indeed and it’s not overly priced for the quality you get.

BEST FOR:
Pretty much everything, but if I have to choose then…
Shoes. Excellent design and the ONLY pair of high heeled sandals I’ve ever owned that don’t give me an achy foot after 5 minutes.
Bags. Top Quality and design, last for years and don’t date.
Prints. One of the only shops I buy patterned gear from.
Dresses. Especially cotton ones for summer, good length and a always a choice of sleeve length (I can’t do sleeveless).
Knitwear. Excellent choice, the cashmere lasts and the heavy knits are 2nd to none on the high street.

NOT SO GOOD FOR:
Sweatshirts, not very soft and shrink in the wash.
Underwear, unless you are a rake with no busoms, don’t buy Bras from here

SIZING:
I find it comes up a little small, so I tend to go up a size, especially on the bottom half.

 

NEW LOOK

I tend not to go in to New Look that much, but I find their online shop good. The stores don’t seem to have much in them for me, they feel a bit cheap and very young. I’d rather not be surrounded by 13 year olds when I’m browsing, makes me feel that I don’t belong there, which could be true.  New Look Dom sell a lot of good stuff though, so don’t let the teens put you off. Go to the website and heed my advice…

Floral Split Side Midi Dress £29.99
White Victorian Style Blouse £22.00
Navy Buttoned Trench Coat £44.99

BEST FOR:
Cotton shirts and blouses. I have a few great tops from here, make sure you check the fabric before you order as a lot of it’s polyester, but the cotton tops are great (like the one above).
Jackets and Coats. Not top level quality, but for the price you can’t complain at all. A great range and very on-trend styles on the cheap.
Dresses. Have been known to come up with some great spring Midis and summer Maxis

NOT SO GOOD FOR:
Trousers, don’t fit great and sometimes look cheap
Shoes – a good choice but are often just a bit crap.

SIZING:
Tends to come up a bit small, I always go up one size. Good range of sizes though.

ZARA

The biggest of them all. The fastest stock turnaround of them all. If you see something you like in Zara then just buy it right away. There is very high chance that it won’t be there when you decide to go back. By then it will be on eBay for twice the retail price. Zara comes up with a lot of the “Must Have’ items of the season, but watch out for the quality. It can often disappoint.

Camouflage Parka Jacket £29.99
Floral Print flowing midi dress £59.99
Mid Rise Denim Culottes £29.99

 

BEST FOR:
Dresses. A massive choice, great prints, great embroidery, but watch for the fabric, can be flimsy.
Denim. Again, an excellent selection and quality is usually good too.
Coats and Jackets. Especially embellished Parkas and Bombers, for the price, these are usually really good
Shoes. Always on trend and often very good value.

NOT SO GOOD FOR:
Knitwear. It doesn’t tend to wash very well and the fine knits get holes in them so easily.
Slim trousers. Not sure who they make their fitted trousers for, they never bloody fit me. The looser wide legs are OK though.

SIZING:
Terrible. Not even worth darkening their doors if you are over a size 14, and in what world is a size 14 an extra large? Even the shoes also tend to come up small, I have to go up a size.

 

MANGO

I never really bothered with Mango until last year when I bought a great pair of trousers. After the success of that buy I took more notice of them as a retail friend. Like New Look, I find the actual stores a bit cluttered and can’t find anything I like, so I stick to online and there are some real gems to be found.

Leather Jacket £149.99, Denim Jacket £35.99
1984 T- Shirt £15.99
Navy Wrap Jumpsuit £45.99

BEST FOR:
Trousers. Amazing amount of choice, the loose fit ones are great, but also their smarter suit type ones fit well.
T Shirts and sweatshirts. Good variety and nice and soft.
Jumpsuits. Not many shops get these right but Mango seem to have worked out some styles that don’t give you a camel toe or a massive arse.
Leather and Denim jackets. They have so many, you’d be hard pressed not to find one you like.

NOT SO GOOD FOR:
Dresses. Never quite found one I liked, they err on the short side for me.
Knitwear. Maybe it’s a Spanish thing, but the Mango knitwear doesn’t seem to cut it, just like Zara.

SIZING:
Pretty good actually. I take my usual size. They also do a range for size 16 and over that is not full of shapeless sacks and elasticated waistbands.

 

Next time I will focus on: WHISTLES, H&M, WAREHOUSE, TOPSHOP, ASOS & BODEN. Do let me know if you found this at all useful and if there are any tips you have to share with the group.

K x

12 thoughts on “My Guide To The High Street Part 1.

  1. Another fab post, thank you Kate!

    I saw the blue shirt dress in m&s the other day and thought it was lovely.

    Being plus size I get sick of supposed plus size ranges only doing sacks or elasticated waists – why can’t we have the same as everyone else?!

    Look forward to the next post, I love H&M!

    xxx

  2. This is great, and so true, especially the Zara knitwear and trousers. Always a disappointment on the jumper front and Spanish people clearly don’t have British-style bottoms.

  3. I love this, thank you!
    & Other Stories has just opened up here in Leeds but I sort of miss getting a fix on a trip to London.
    Completely agree with the comments about Zara. It’s so demoralising when even a Large is snug.

  4. Great post! I feel much the same way about all these shops – adore Stories right now, still find hidden gems in New Look and occasionally fall back on M&S.
    Looking forward to the next instalment! X

  5. Love this! I never feel cool enough for Cos but I’m going to make a trip to look for striped tops! And I think I might have to buy that New Look black shirt dress. M&S are also great for shoes – comfy and cheap, just ordered 2 pairs of sandals. Looking forward to your thoughts on H&M sizing! I’ve never got into a pair or trousers from there, even going up by 2 sizes!

  6. Hi Kate, thanks for a spot on post ! We don’t have a Stories here in Darkest Bristol but I’m off to check out their website. Most of the Spanish girls working in my local Zara are tall & slim so maybe thats why as a size 12 I struggle to fit in any of their jeans ! Looking forward to the next installment x

  7. The other high street shop that seems to get overlooked is Massimo Dutti. Reasonably priced and great for separates. If I worked in a smart job it’s where I would go for trousers, smart dresses etc and the bags and shoes are really nice.

  8. It’s SO good to know it’s not just me who has a problem with Zara’s sizing, the trousers are insane!

    Thanks also for advice on big boobs, the M&S secret buttons have been a total life savour to me (I’m an E cup), and normal shirts often have me flashing the girls to the nation.

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