Advantages quality clothing which lasts, reasonable price, excellent classic items
Disadvantages the 'good' is jumbled up amongst the 'bad', image problems
|Frequency of visit|
|Value for money|
|Layout & presentation|
|Selection & range|
Marks and Spencer appears to have been a much maligned, and unpopular store over the past couple of years, but despite the fact that it’s not ‘cool’ to shop there, I am still a loyal customer, and this opinion aims to explain just why I think it’s worth a visit. I won’t mention the foods here, since I’ve done a separate opinion on the food hall, instead, I will focus largely on womenswear – since that’s obviously the section most appropriate to me, and try to dispel the common myths about M&S.Firstly then, I will run through some of the views people have of M&S:
***It’s full of old people’s clothing***
Yes, I must admit, when you walk into an M&S, for some reason, it does initially look as if it’s full of clothing for older, or dull, people. However, don’t be put off by this – if you take time to look around, whilst there’s usually a good 50% of the store that won’t hold any appeal for you at all, you can usually find many other items which are suitable for the younger generation. For example, if you’re on a budget, then the jeans, which are under £30, come in an excellent variety of styles and colours, and in three different leg lengths. There’s nothing ‘fuddy duddy’ about jeans! They also stock denim skirts, which are very similar in style to those found in other high street shops, such as River Island.
***There’s nothing at the cutting edge of fashion***
That’s not to say that all the clothes in M&S are conservative however. The last skirt I bought, with a long split at the side is not one that your granny would wear! Many clothes, particularly in the larger stores (the one at Marble Arch is a particular favourite) are in line with the fashions of the season – for example, last Christmas, (or maybe the one before), there was a lot of velvet in. Little strappy velvet tops and matching jackets for example, and long velvet skirts, even velvet trousers. It’s not just the beige granny cardigans you get in here! Last spring, when imitation Burberry patterns hit the high street, M&S were up there with the best of them, and so I got a short skirt in that style.
Furthermore, I find that the quality of the clothes you get from M&S is always high, and that sizes are consistent. Tailoring might not be quite as good as some of the more expensive ones, but it’s a hell of a lot better than the cheaper alternatives – you really do get what you pay for. There are not that many handwash only or dry clean only items either, which suits me, I’m too stingey to pay for dry cleaning, and too lazy to handwash, so that suits me perfectly! You can usually wash M&S clothes many, many times before they start to either lose their colour or shape, and they are usually finished well too. Some items that they sell, particularly those in the mens and childrens ranges don’t even need ironing! Perfect for your lazy boyfriend!
Well – expensive is a relative term. For me, it’s a relatively cheap store, but I suppose if you regularly shop at places such as Miss Selfridge, H&M, New Look etc, then it may seem quite pricey. But I would say prices are on a similar level to River Island and Principles, and nowhere near as expensive as Arnotts, Karen Millen, Kookai, Oasis, John Lewis, French Connection, or House of Fraser. True, the clothes probably are not as ‘exciting’ or as ‘original’ as some of these, but for quality basics, then M&S is a winner. What’s the point of buying a black polo neck from Oasis for example, or a white strappy top from French Connection, when M&S sell almost identical versions at half the price. Whilst I like to wear some ‘labels’, it looks pretty stupid to dressed top to toe in them, and I prefer a mixture.
If you want a bargain, try the M&S sales – if you look hard enough, there are usually many items at extremely reduced prices. It’s a good time to stock up on essentials like knickers and tops, or skirts and blouses for work.***The underwear is ‘sensible’***
The range of knickers is pretty good too. I like the pick and mix section they have brought in – 3 pairs in any styles and colours you want for only a tenner. In the sales I’ve found these knickers have been reduced to only £2, a definite bargain. There are also sets of 5 available, which are usually fairly good value too.Other good points:
The returns policy of M&S has to be one of the best around. If you buy something, get it home and then realise that you don’t like it, they’ll take it back in any M&S store – even if you lose the receipt! You don’t get a refund in cash however if you lose the receipt. There’s also no time limit on how long you have until it’s too late to return something – again, very useful.
M&S used to be criticised for the failure to accept credit cards, (I used to work here when I was 16 and customers frequently complained about this), however I am now pleased to report that they do now take credit cards, in addition to their own store card. Unfortunately they have no ‘points’ system such as Boots or Sainsburys – which I think is a shame, my Mum and I would do fantastically if they did!
Always important on a shopping trip! M&S have excellent changing rooms, and offer a free bra measuring service there too (which I’ve never used). Changing rooms are always staffed by helpful members of staff, who will offer advice on choosing an outfit and will go and fetch clothes to make your shopping experience a bit easier. The changing rooms are of a good size with full length mirrors in each one. Unfortunately I find the mirrors make me look fatter than my mirror at home – and I know I’m not the only one to think this! Very weird…
But how could they improve?
I also think it’s stupid selling all the clothes in the range of sizes from 8-20. How many size twenties are really going to look good in something that suits people in size 10-12? I don’t want to offend anyone here, but it’s usually true that larger sizes can look better in clothes designed specifically for them, and I think M&S should pay more attention to this.Another small, but important point – they ought to provide toilets in some of the major stores – John Lewis and Debenhams do, so why can’t Marks?!
Finally, here’s a list of some of my most recent M&S buys:
I hope this little list has proved my point that it’s not just stuff for OAPs or dull and boring people – I like to think that I am quite fashion conscious and I love shopping, but I don’t turn my nose up at M&S just because it’s not ‘cool’. Even if, like me, you could never buy a shop’s own brand of jeans, you’ll still find well made, quality garments, to wear with them. I’ve often been complimented by my friends on my clothes, and they are always surprised that they are from M&S! It just proves that if you look hard enough, and look beyond the superficial appearance of the store, you can find some real quality bargains. If only M&S could improve its image….Happy shopping!
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