They say….”If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”.
Last week I found myself doing just that. And I credit Marks and Spencer for allowing me to fulfil a dream of working with probably the most iconic and well-respected high-street retailer around today. When M&S approached me to present three Festive fashion workshops at the Festive Showcase last week, it was a no-brainer. To work with the ‘King of the High Street’ as I like to refer to them as – was an amazing moment for me and one in which I thoroughly enjoyed. Talking about Festive fashion and gift ideas is also something I absolutely LOVE so I’m going to share the details with you right now from the quality brand.
The three workshops consisted of Festive Occasionwear, Sleepwear and Festive Gifts for the family touching on the luxurious M&S cashmere. So along with having you styled over the festive period and well into the New Years Eve celebrations, cosy nightwear (very important topic!) and Christmas presents were high on my agenda.
Starting with their extensive and amazing collection of Occasion wear this season – it was actually quite difficult to pick my fav’s and narrow it down for my models as well as the mannequins as there was so much beautiful choice to pick from. M&S have really upped their game the past few years in terms of their occasion wear, celebrity collaborations, key trends, staying ahead of the game and choice. Of course the quality of their products (and I’m including the food here) is beyond excellent with innovative technology across the board. What I loved about this seasons collection, was that almost all of the clothes were perfect transitional pieces going forward into Spring/Summer 2018 – everything is so versatile and wearable and this is something which I incorporated into the workshops.
In terms of Festive looks – I styled my models in a selection of stand-out pieces from the collection including the red tie-neck dress (above) which is one of the brands best sellers along with the vibrant blue blouse (top) which is not considered a traditional ‘festive’ colour but works well with black and textures such as velvet and satin. As velvet is such a massive trend right now, M&S has the most stunning black velvet suit currently in stock – see here – which is gorgeous over the festive period and again is versatile enough to be worn well into the next season either as separates or together – as ‘power-suits’ are a current big trend.
Christmas really wouldn’t be complete without a ‘knock-out’ party dress and this ‘Crackle Drape Dress’ (above) – again another best seller is THE ultimate stand out dress to have in your wardrobe. I’m all about the ‘repeat wearability’ factor and this dress just speaks volumes in terms of how and when it could be worn during the year. That black-tie wedding you’ve been invited to, a summers cocktail party, a date night or a night out with the girls – the possibilities are endless. This one is definitely on my wish-list.
To tie in with wearing ‘body-con’/fitted dresses I spoke about the importance of ‘Shapewear’ because if you’re wearing a knock-out piece you want to feel good and thats where M&S are on another level. The selection and quality is outstanding with the brand and historically – a place I’ve always considered my haven when it comes to good comfortable underwear with the best reputation. The M&S ‘Magicwear‘ – coz let’s face it…..we all need a little magic……..has a whole range available in black and nude to suit every body type and outfit. Comfort technology and ZERO ‘VPL’ are STANDARD throughout the range and the firm control technology gives you curves in all the right places – but lightweight enough to still have that comfort element. Next time you are in M&S…..take a look at the selection, you’ll be amazed with the choice.
You can literally sense my excitement in the pic above over the fact that this fab full floral print skirt has pockets! In fact, I’m going back to the store for this! Pockets in skirts or dresses just spark joy in me……fact! I teamed it with this gorgeous and quite festive sparkly jumper (again sequins are NOT just for Christmas as I’m always going on about on Instagram etc.) which gives this whole style quite a chic-dressy look. But to give the whole outfit more of a casual-chic look – I love the fact that you can team both the skirt and top with a pair of trainers (one of my fav things to do plus M&S have a fab selection of these also in stock) which again makes it all so versatile. The dress I’m also wearing here is a stunning burgundy velvet (the softest velvet ever) midi dress which I felt so amazing and festive in as well as uber-comfy. Put it this way, theres enough room in it to stuff your face on Christmas Day and still feel comfortable.
Something that not a lot of people may be aware of is the innovative technology in the M&S footwear. When I looked into this a little bit more and talked to people about footwear, I couldn’t believe the amount of people that JUST buy Marks and Spencer’s shoes. So much so – I made this a bit of a talking point in my workshop and passed some shoes around so people could see for themselves and feel the fab feature inside the shoes. What is this feature I hear you ask? Well say hello to ‘Insolia Technology’. Endorsed by the UK College of Podiatrists, Insolia redistributes your weight away from the balls of your feet, reducing pressure and increasing ankle stability, allowing you to wear your heels comfortably all day long. It’s standard in all M&S footwear over 40mm with the flat shoes not missing out either. Insolia Flex – innovation technology for flat shoes and pumps ensures your foot is correctly placed within the shoe. Therefore improving the movement of the ball of the foot and making walking and standing more comfortable. A fusion of ‘style and innovation’ – uncomfortable heels……be gone!!
Moving on to the second workshop dedicated to the extensive ‘Sleepwear’ collection M&S currently stock, I talked about the whole ‘matching Christmas pyjamas’ trend that has become a worldwide tradition nowadays. Of course M&S has that whole trend sussed and has a fab matching ‘family tartan set’ which is just divine. And yes, my husband has no choice as he WILL be wearing them for Christmas whether he likes them or not….if even just for the Instagram photo ha, ha!
This was probably my favourite segment as I basically just wanted to get into a super soft onesie like the one above (and which I couldn’t stop touching) and just laze around in sleepwear all day. The selection of novelty and cosy nightwear in M&S at the moment is extensive and you are definitely spoilt for choice with matching dressing/gowns and house coats. You will just want to wear pjs all day!
The last workshop was all about festive fashion gift ideas for the family – ladies, men and children. For the men in your life, the choice is endless from matching hats and scarves to belts, wallets and cufflinks to Christmas jumpers (and matching son ones) and pyjama sets. For the ladies, again there is a huge selection of handbags, scarves, accessories, jewellery as well as beautiful underwear sets. One gift idea I delved into was cashmere. Everyone should own at least one cashmere item in their wardrobe. It’s probably one of the most sought after luxurious fibres and such an amazing gift to give and receive. (Hint, hint….to the husband if he’s reading this!). M&S use it in a variety of products from knitwear and scarves to jackets and gloves. A MASSIVE bonus of the M&S cashmere range is that it is machine washable and can be tumble-dried – it basically had me at ‘machine-washable‘. One final point about cashmere is that it is an investment piece for your wardrobe, perfect for travelling, hiding from the a/c in Dubai’s malls and cinemas, chilly mornings and evenings as well as being a very stylish cover-up.
I cannot talk about Marks and Spencer’s Festive campaign for 2017 without mentioning Paddington Bear. If there ever was a clever and genius merge of two iconic British brands – it’s this! The extremely popular Christmas M&S advert featuring Paddington (the star of the advert) saw all profits donated to the NSPCC in the UK as well as coinciding with the new Paddington movie – ‘Paddington & The Christmas Visitor”. The whole campaign with Paddington retains the Marks and Spencer philosophy of the ‘Spend It Well’ platform which was launched earlier this year encouraging customers to focus on the people, experiences and things that matter to them most – something that is never more important that at Christmas.
I hope you got some Festive inspiration from this post, I certainly have by working with the brand and finding out more about their products and innovation. I now want a cashmere jumper and wear their shoes from now on. I love their style of having a ‘one-stop-shop’ for Christmas where you can basically and more or less have your festive shopping sorted in one go! Heres hoping……….
For now, from myself and Paddington….I bid you farewell and until next time……..