My first recollection of M&S having an impact on my life is via a photograph taken of me when I was about three. I am sitting on the front door step of our house wearing the most amazing navy and red trouser suit. The jacket had red and white stripes and the navy flared trousers had a vent in with the same striped material. Oh, how I loved that trouser suit – I thought that I looked the bees knees. A Saturday night treat was to eat crumpets, angel cake and chocolate crispie cake whilst watching the Generation Game on TV.
I think that my desire to personally style people first revealed itself in M&S. The joy that I took in rifling through the boxes of bras and matching my Mum up with the bra size that she was after. What a sense of achievement!
As a teenager it was a Saturday treat to eat a prawn roll on the bench outside M&S and to have a whole bag of cheesy balls to myself was heaven. To take home a bag of their butter popcorn was beyond dreamy. I came home from a holiday once to find that my bedroom had been totally re-decorated courtesy of, yes, you guessed it – M&S. The range was called “Chelsea” and included matching bedding, lampshade and bin, no less. So 1980’s! My first “beauty” range was from M&S – Wild Iris matching soap, bubble bath and talc – I can still smell it now.
As a sixteen year old, in need of a job, I refused to work anywhere else apart from M&S. I badgered them until they relented and gave me a job. At £1.94 an hour as opposed to the £1.50 that WH Smiths were offering I was positively rich (and the bonus was that the prawn sarnies in the canteen were only 10p!) The nylon uniform left a lot to be desired. It was distinctly uncomfortable and unflattering on the puppy fat. It was, however, fun to watch the men come in on a Friday morning though, buying a “little something” for the weekend. I often wanted to ask them whether it was intended for their wife – but never did.
On into the student days and as a treat on a Saturday, my housemates and I would share a box of profiteroles. So much more delicious than whatever else we lived on for the rest of the week.
When travelling around the world, the delight that my friend and I experienced on discovering M&S in Singapore was incredible. M&S on the other side of the world! It probably only served to make us more homesick than we already were.
My first work suits came from M&S plus shoes and of course the endless supply of tights that were required. And so on into adulthood proper – our eldest child’s first babygros, presents from friends, presents to friends (even as recently as yesterday!) and here we are now. I was told that it wasn’t possible to style anyone out of M&S – they were wrong. It is, and I have, with great success. M&S feels safe, people have grown up with it, they understand it and what it stands for. I think maybe that the older generation have been (slightly) left along the way – that’s what my Mums says anyway. However there are great pieces to be found in Limited Collection, Autograph and in their suiting range. Since the demise of many high street shoe shops, M&S has upped its game and it is possible to find directional footwear at a really good price. Great if you don’t want to invest too much in a look that might only last a season or so. My clients are often amazed when I tell them that pieces that I have are from M&S and I think that many have returned to shop there with avengeance.
What always amazes me is that whichever client’s wardrobe I may be doing, they all, without exception, have an M&S hanger in there somewhere. I can tell from the distinctive style that they are from around the mid 1980’s, probably when most of my clients were still living at home, which means that they have probably travelled with them through many house moves and still they have hung on.
So thank you M&S – you have played, and still play, a big part in my life and I for one still love your prawn sarnies and am even happier now that you have started to stock diet coke too.