Marks and Me

This was originally featured as a guest post over at Scribbling Mum. Thanks to lovely Caroline for giving me the opportunity to post there before she made the decision to stop blogging herself. Her excellent posts will be much missed.

I am finally resigned to my fate. After years of fighting it – of squeezing myself into clothes that were the wrong shape, shoes that were the wrong fit, and underwear that was just too darn small – I have accepted that my natural match on the high street is, in fact, M&S.

For too long, I have associated the place with the fashion disasters of my schooldays and teens. A flick back through my parents’ photo albums reveals an astounding number of sartorial horrors – palazzo pants, t-bar sandals, furry gilets, pinafore dresses, hypercolour t-shirts, and polyester, calf-length culottes – that all originated from the sweaty confines of M&S.

Until recently, it represented everything awkward about growing up. It’s where I stood, shoulders hunched, cheeks burning, being measured for my first proper bra. It’s where I argued with my mother about how short my skirts could be and how high my heels could be. It’s where I first had to confront the issue of whether to wear a bikini on holiday.

So for the last ten years, I’ve given M&S a wide berth. I have tried, at times, to be a sparkly-socked TopShop girl. I have bought neutrals in Gap, jeans in French Connection, and, most recently, have been living in leggings and smocks from Boden. I have not exactly been setting the fashion world on fire, but nor have I stooped to the florals and pastels of Per Una.

Recently though, things got a little desperate. I needed a wedding outfit. I tried all my staple places. I spent hours walking up Princes St, and then hours walking back down George Street. I found nothing. Nada. I was waiting for the bus home, wondering how the heck I was going to jazz up an old outfit; most of the dresses in my wardrobe had barely fitted me pre-baby, they were unlikely to be any more flattering now.

Anyway, by some coincidence, the bus stop was right outside M&S. And with twenty minutes until the number 41 was due, I figured I had nothing to lose. I might as well take a look.

It took about three and a half minutes to find a perfect dress, which came with a matching shrug. There was a bag and a bracelet hanging an aisle away that both went perfectly with it. I nipped upstairs for a new bra and pants. And then thought I may as well take a peek at the shoe department, where I found a pair of heels that were both cute and comfy.  The whole bundle was less than a hundred quid, and I still managed to catch my bus.

It pains me, massively, to realise that I have become an M&S mum. My husband says sometimes, in jest, that my sense of style hasn’t quite yet recovered from my student days… but the truth is probably worse. I haven’t quite accepted that I won’t be one of the truly yummy mummies – the ones who wear skinny jeans three days after giving birth. I would like to be an Angelina or a J-Lo or a Gwyneth, with a baby on one arm and a Balenciaga bag on the other. I would like to smell of Chanel No 5, instead of strawberry yoghurt. And I would really, really like to be able to walk in heels. But a quick flick through those photo albums – a glance at those sandals – should have been enough of a clue that it was never going to happen.

So I have come full circle. I am back to good old Marks and Sparks. I am learning to be okay with that. And tomorrow I’m going back for another outfit.

26 responses

  1. Pingback: ‘The Weekly Showcase 12-09-11 « Love New Blogs

  2. Global hypercolour t-shirts – ah the old glory days ! And how about a Fat Willys Surf Shack t-shirt while you’re at it !
    Culottes were the devil – my teenager nearly bought a pair the other day – I think they are making a comeback! I think teenagers can get away with it but at my age I’d just look like I’m having a fashion crisis !

    • Love it!

      After weeks of me begging, my Mum bought me culottes for school at the beginning of the summer holidays between primary school and secondary school, because they’d been massively in fashion all through the last year of primary. And then, horror of horrors, I was speaking to a friend on the phone a couple of days before starting high school and she informed me that during the six weeks of holidays they’d become the least cool thing ever. We had to rush out and buy a mini skirt, so that I wouldn’t end up having my head flushed down a toilet . Urgh. I wouldn’t go back to being a teenage girl for all the money in the world.

  3. I too have just found you via Love New Blogs and this post really made me laugh🙂 My wife buys a lot of Per Una stuff and she looks absolutely great in it, but boys and girls alike have all had the “must avoid M&S” feeling throughout most of their childhoods🙂

  4. Hi I’m another visitor from Love New Blogs. I keep seeing people wearing nice clothes and asking where they got them and the answer is often M&S. Haven’t managed to find anything for myself there recently but I’ll keep trying! I need some winter trousers for work so I’ll start with that.

  5. Hi! I have also just popped over from ‘Love New Blogs’. Really enjoyed reading your post. I live in Canada now and the quality of clothes that we can buy over here isn’t a patch on the British stores. Whenever we visit I always bring an extra suitcase to load up on clothes (mainly for the kids of course) from M&S and Next. Enjoy M&S. I wish we lived closer to one!

    • Oh wow, I’d always assumed shopping would be better across there! I suppose you get used to what you know though🙂 I just find the US/Canadian sizing odd, especially for kids – we have family across there and I usually can’t find any correlation between what it says on the label and the size of my son! Thanks for taking the time to pop across – isn’t Love New Blogs Great?!

  6. Also over from love new blogs. I love marks and Spencer undies you can’t beat them. I’d also love to do style and motherhood at the same time. However by the time I leave the house I usually have baby sick on one shoulder and finger paint on the other.

    • That sounds familiar! Do you have holes in the knees of all your trousers too, from crawling around on the floor? Or is that just me!? Thanks for taking the time to come over and comment🙂 x

  7. Hi-visiting via Love New Blogs.I am still struggling to find that 1 shop where everything fits well,the closest seems to be Next.In other shops I always seem to be inbetween sizes. I buy things from a variety of shops and Ebay-I hate wearing the same as everyone else,like to be a bit Unique when I can.Looking forward to reading more of your Blog.Great post.

  8. Pingback: A Love Letter to Abel and Cole | dorkymum

  9. Pingback: Love All Blogs » the altruistic blogging network and showcasing site that welcomes all bloggers » ‘The Weekly Showcase 12-09-11

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