As I’m currently away on holidays, I have blatantly rehashed this High Street Guide post from 2017. But I think this was quite a useful one, so I thought I would update it for 2019 for new readers.
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 Zara, 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
L‑R Rust Midi Dress, Khaki Jacket, Navy Shirt Dress
Sometimes M&S just doesn’t know what it’s doing, there are so many different departments within the ladies-wear section. It can be very confusing. BUT I’ve always maintained there are some absolute diamonds to be found in Marks. I shop there A LOT and not just for Undies. Maybe a good entry point is to give Indigo and Per Una a wide berth and head to Autograph or the Limited Collection.
Dresses and Skirts — Recently M&S Have done a great line in dresses and they often come in 3 different lengths, plus also petite. Very good range of sizes.
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.
Always seems to come up a little bit large for me, I have a Trench coat that is a size 8 and still a bit big, as a rule I tend to go down one size. Another reason to like them.
L‑R Cream Worker Jeans, Pleated Skirt with D Ring Belt, Curved Leg Denim Trousers
I love Cos. I like to think I’m ‘Mrs Clean Lines’. I’m not really, as my heart always skips a beat at Floral Buffet dresses. It went off the boil quite a bit a few seasons back. Too many patterns, not enough good trousers. Recently however, it’s back on track with the minimalist classic styles we’ve come to love it for.
Cos Chunky Cotton Knit Cardigan
White Shirts with a twist
Classic Cropped and Tailored trousers. Cos do the BEST trousers.
Cardigans, Some of my best knitwear has been bought from Cos, their chunky and cashmere cardigans are particularly good.
Striped long sleeve T‑Shirts, they have loads 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.
Pretty spot on, occasionally I need to go down a size on the loose fitting shirts for fear of looking a bit tent-like, but that’s kind of the style with Cos.
& OTHER STORIES
L‑R Blue Spotty Waist Knot dress, Floral Long Sleeve Dress, Ruffle Tier Maxi Dress
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.
& Other Stories Chunky Platform Hiking Boots
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
I find it comes up a little small, so I tend to go up a size, especially on the bottom half.
L‑R Leopard Print Tiered Smock Dress, White Ruffle Blouse, Red Floral Wrap Skirt
I tend not to go in to New Look that much, but I find their online shop very 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 do sell a lot of good stuff though, so don’t let the teens put you off. Go to the website and heed my advice…
New Look White Spot Split Hem Midi Dress
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 not that well made
Actually not bad. I tend to size up but only because I don’t want any cling. Good range of sizes too. Goes from 6 -‘18 in most styles and they have a good petites and plus size range.
L‑R: Sequin Dress, Camel Blazer, Blue Printed Dress
The biggest of them all. The fastest stock turnaround of them all. If you see something you like in Zara then there is an urge to just buy it right away as there is very high chance that it won’t be there when you decide to go back. (THAT Dress being the exception!). This ‘I must buy it now’ cycle isn’t good for you. Stop and think before you purchase, and watch out for the quality. It can often disappoint.
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 their little jackets that look a bit Chanel, 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.
Quality, things can often fall apart quite quick;y.
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.
L‑R: Tweed Cotton Jacket, Polka Dots Long Sleeve Dress, Chest Pocket White Denim Shirt
I never really bothered with Mango until a couple of years ago 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.
Mango Woodstock Festival Cotton T Shirt
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 jackets and Blazers. They have so many, you’d be hard pressed not to find one you like.
NOT SO GOOD FOR:
Trousers. Often the fabric is very polyester and they err on the small, clingy side for me.
Knitwear. Maybe it’s a Spanish thing, but the Mango knitwear doesn’t seem to cut it, just like Zara.
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 week I will focus on: WHISTLES, H&M, ARKET, TOPSHOP, ASOS & BODEN.