M&S, Marks & Spencer or Marks & Sparks, whichever way you prefer to refer to it, you’ve probably heard of the British brand. It’s a brand I’m very familiar with; I practically grew up with it. There’s a big one on Canterbury High Street, the city I grew up in, in the UK, which has been there since I can remember (not surprising since it was established in the late 19th century!) In fact I even distinctly recall having a tantrum on the shop floor aged 3, as my mum rolled her eyes at fellow shoppers, whilst I lay faced down on the floor beating my arms and legs against the lino, probably because she wouldn’t buy me a pack of Percy Pigs… (mmm Percy Pigs).
Anyway I digress – suffice to say I know it well, I still buy my basics there – underwear, tights and socks and I’ve bought a lot of provisions from the food hall over the years, including said Percy Pigs. Like the sultry, sexy female voice-over says in the now famous former ad, with dulcet tones of Groove Armada playing in the background, “this is not just (insert word – i.e summer, winter, chocolate cake) food, this is M&S food”. M&S is a British national treasure, and over the last two decades I’ve watched its style evolve, as fashion has. It’s always been great for basics, but more and more great style and cuts have been hitting the hangers, especially in its Autograph range and recent collaboration with Alexa Chung, so I was very happy to oblige when asked to choose a few styles from the summer shop this season.
I love the heat and am happiest in the sun, but I do like to keep cool, so despite my general pastiness (I also lather myself in factor 30, so as to prevent any skin damage and that obviously makes any sun catching take longer) I love nothing more than getting my legs out, throwing on a dress on and heading out. Dresses are the easiest things to wear when the sun is beating down, so here are a few of my favourites, which I shot whilst staying on the dreamy island of Ibiza last weekend for a friend’s wedding.
This striped Linen Blend Shirt Dress is perfect for summer weather – cool enough in the heat, it can also be thrown over a bikini on the beach. With full-length buttons down the front, it has easy access (if you’re changing into a swimmer on the beach that is) and I love the tie waist detail, which if you have hips but a small waist like me, makes a dress all the more flattering. It’s a casual style, but can also be dressed up – these snakeskin sandals add a little edge, or team with heels.
I have a thing for dungarees and have recently been living in denim dungaree dresses. I do feel a bit like a kid in them, but that’s perhaps the charm. This white dungaree dress is definitely more grown up though, ending at the knee. Dungaree dresses are also perfect for beach days. I’m wearing this over a little camisole top, but they also make the perfect bikini cover up (when you need to put something on for lunch and don’t want to be the only one sat chomping on prawns half naked) or keep it casual worn over a simple tee and sneakers.
I paired this pretty silk floral shift dress with cream espadrille wedges, but it could just as easily go with sneakers or flat sandals. The beauty being that it’s versatile for any occasion, even a wedding. I wore it out that evening for my friend’s pre-wedding drinks. Plus even though it’s silk, it can be thrown in the washing machine!