Sorry it’s a been a while since the last post, I’ve been away with very limited wifi and barely no phone signal. We enjoyed our time in the countryside, but it’s always nice to come home to where the 4G and wifi run free. So, without further ado, here’s the second part of my guide to high street shopping…
I used to shop in Whistles all the time. That was in the days prior to Cos and & Other Stories. Once they came along, with the same quality of clothes (and frankly, a lot of better designs) but for half the price, then my love for Whistles diminished somewhat. That said, I do still pop in there and I always check out their sales. Excellent for classic styles that don’t date, the clothes do last for a very long time and can be very flattering. I have a black lace dress from there that honestly makes me look like I’ve lost a stone. That is NEVER a bad thing!
Leather jackets. Buy a classic biker jacket from Whistles, it will never date and will last forever.
Workwear. Tailored trousers, smart dresses and blazers, a great selection of ‘sort of’ smart clothes for work and excellent quality.
Slogan Sweatshirts. They do new ones every season. Always pretty cool.
Handbags. Whistles do a small selection of bags, but all made from great leather. Feel more expensive than they are.
NOT SO GOOD FOR:
Prints. To be fair, they can be really good at prints but sometimes hit a weird middle ground between too loud and not loud enough, so can end up a little bit wishy-washy.
The Price. I know it’s great quality, but t‑shirts upwards of £60 for the high street is a little much. I could pop into Liberty and pick up an Isabel Marant one for not much more (Etoile, I grant you , but still..)
Generally very good, if anything they sometimes come up big. I can always buy my usual size without fear of it being too tight.
H&M is almost the polar opposite to Whistles. I used to go there all the time in my 20’s, then I gave up for a while in my 30’s, but now, in my 40’s I am back in there all the time. They do seem to be able to cater for most people. Steer clear of the ‘festival’ ranges. No-one needs to see you in short shorts and a crop T‑shirt that says ‘Coachella Girl’ on it. Never kid yourself that anything you are buying in there is going to last. This is fast fashion, not forever fashion, but the price is great and it’s one of the best places to buy that spur-of-the-moment trendy piece that you will only wear for maximum 3 months, but that’s fine, chances are it cost less than a one day travel card.
Denim. Surprisingly one of the best places to buy jeans. A great variety of styles, decent quality but watch the sizing.
Midi and Maxi Dresses. They will be polyester, but H&M do a good line in printed dresses. Did we all buy that frilly floral number last Autumn for £14.99? yes, I think we did.
T Shirts. Some really cute designs, won’t last, but you won’t need them too, you’ll be bored of it before it falls apart. I love my current kitty pocket one!
Shoes. Don’t pass by the H&M shoe area without a quick look around. They do great slip-on trainers and the summer sandals are pretty good too.
NOT SO GOOD FOR:
Coats. If something is already looking creased on the hanger in the shop, just think what it will be like after you’ve worn it a few times. Not a good look.
Knitwear. Some good ones, but generally too many man-made fibres and looks cheap.
Trousers. A lot of polyester slacks going on, steer clear of those.
This is where H&M really lets us down. You have to go into the store and try things on. Take 3 different sizes into the changing room as whatever it says on the label doesn’t meant shit. It’s all over the place. I once bought a pair of jeans 3 times over, each one bigger that the other, yet even a size 16 was too small for me (I’m usually a 12). I also have a jacket from H&M which I had to buy in a size 8 as it was huge.
A new one on my radar. Until fairly recently I dismissed it as being just a bit ‘meh’, but Warehouse is having a bit of resurgence. The clothes have been simplified and they have got a new designer. I’ve only ever bought online though as I don’t know that they have that many actual stores. I might be wrong though.
Prints. Warehouse does great prints and they tend to do the same print in trousers, shirts, dresses and jackets. This is good for me as I love a bit of Matchy-Matchy.
Midi Dresses. A decent selection with sleeves. My dresses must have sleeves.
Coats. Good price for the designs, nice and classic.
NOT SO GOOD FOR:
Jeans. I bought a pair from here and they were too stretchy and lost their shape very quickly.
T Shirts. Not much of a selection, they seem to do rather a lot of sleeveless numbers. I don’t do sleeveless.
A bit off. The coat I have is size 10 and still quite roomy, yet I bought a dress recently in a 12 that was too tight, that said it’s not as bad as H&M. go for your regular size and hope for the best.
Ahh, Toppers, I do love you so. I will forgive you the times that you seem to have nothing but crop tops and ill-fitting ‘Mom’ jeans, because I know that I will always return and find clothes that I will love for ages. The ‘Boutique’ range comes up with a lot of my must-have items each season. I still have massive pangs of regret that I never bought last years Polka Dot dress. I still have an eBay alert on it in the hope someone will one day wish to part with their size 12. I have 3 pairs of ‘Mensy’ trousers and countless T‑shirts, shirts and jumpers.
Jackets. Get one of the Green ‘Shackets’, you will thank me for it, I promise.
Trousers. Especially those loose-fitting ‘Mensy’ ones I keep banging on about. I am yet to find out what ‘Mensy’ actually means.
Boutique and Unique range. Pricier, but definitely worth it. great design and good fabrics.
T‑shirts. I have some Topshop T‑shirts that are older than most of the people I work with.
NOT SO GOOD FOR:
Shoes. This is probably just me, but I find them uncomfortable, which is annoying as they do some great shoes.
Jeans. Not all of them, the skinnies are great, but the ‘Mom’ style I find to be deeply unflattering.
On the small side for sure. I always go up a size, especially with their trousers. A lot of Topshop clothes are made for girls with no mumtums or boobs, but I guess the over 40’s are probably not exactly target market!
Like Warehouse, this was a shop that I felt belonged in the 90’s. Remember how excited we were when the enormous Next Directory came through the door? I’m still not 100% sold on it. Most of the shops seem to be in big trading estates next to a HobbyCraft or a Pets at Home, plus you have to wade through a mountain of black polyester ‘work’ trousers to get to anything decent. That said, recently I’ve seen a few good things on their website, so it gets included in this list for now.
Cotton Tops. Quite a nice range of boho-type blouses for the summer
Shoes — Definitely got better recently. I can’t comment on the comfort as I’ve not bought any yet.
Sweatshirts — I loved the Copenhagen one from last year, it was only the fact I already had 2 very similar ones that stopped me from buying.
Having a good next day delivery service online and selling a good range of brands.
NOT SO GOOD FOR:
Those Black Polyester work trousers that next favours so much
Work Shirts, just so uninspired.
Being a bit ‘Mumsy’, overly floral and a lot of awful shapeless sleeveless numbers going on.
Not bad at all, the fit can be a bit off, but in general the actual sizing is good, plus the size range is wide, 6–22.
Not strictly a High Street store and again, not one I entertained much until more recent years. I did slip into bad ways whilst on maternity leave with my first child 12 years ago. I had to have a word with myself and step away from the Boden Catalogue as I found myself thinking those ‘fun’ skirts weren’t so bad after all. Big Mistake. These days I do have a glance online. If you steer clear of the prints, there is some good stuff. The quality is excellent and there are a lot of classic designs that won’t date. Just approach with an open mind and a bit of caution.
Swimwear. They do excellent swimming costumes that suck you in and make you feel like you could actually get your thighs out on the beach.
Knitwear. The Cashmere is great.
Smart Tailored Jackets.
Shirts and Stripy T‑shirts. Stick to plain colours only.
NOT SO GOOD FOR:
“Fun’ anything, skirts, dresses, coats, shirts. It’s not acceptable to be in your 40’s and wearing a coat with huge yellow flowers on from Boden. You can do better than that.
Very good. Pretty spot on for everything I have bought.
Again, not an actual shop, but ASOS is one that couldn’t be left out as I buy from there regularly. One of the best things is the next day delivery service for just £10 a year. ASOS is absolutely perfect for those panic-last-minute-buys, and the returns systems is quick and easy, so it gets my vote. There is a lot to wade through here, but it’s very easy to narrow it down with a specific search if you know what you are looking for.. I really like ASOS White for something a bit different and is better quality than the main range.
Dresses. I have bought some excellent dresses from ASOS, they have got me out of many a emergency last minute, I have to dress-up and hate everything in my wardrobe situation.
Jeans. Such a huge choice here, you’d be hard pressed not to find something that suits.
Shoes. As above, their on brand is good too, a lot of it’s not leather, but for the prices you can’t complain.
Denim Shirts. I bought one from there 10 years ago that is still going strong.
NOT SO GOOD FOR:
Quality, it’s very hit and miss, it’s lucky the returns are easy because on average 50% of any order will go back.
Own brand T‑Shirts. Tend to shrink very easily after only a few washes.
Not bad actually. Usually find the own brand is true to size.
Of course, other high street shops are available. I should have included The Gap — used to be good, now feels like a jumble sale, but the chinos are still spot on. I don’t go to Miss Selfridge, All Saints or Jigsaw enough to have an opinion, but maybe I will try all these out and do another update in a few months. I hope this has been a bit useful for you. Which are your favourites? Please let me know if you have any tips, particularly about the ones I might have missed out.