What do your favourite jeans or trousers look like? If they’re best described as skinny, slim or cigarette-leg, then I have bad news, because the look set to dominate our wardrobes is the very opposite.
At a preview of the new Marks & Spencer spring/summer collection on Tuesday, wide-legged trousers featured throughout: in suiting, linen with drawstring waistbands, and as part of silky co-ords. If there was one theme running through it all, it was the wide leg.
This is the biggest wardrobe shake-up since the cancellation of the floral midi, and you’ve every right to dismiss it and carry on as before - except for the fact that this shift is not coming from fashion executives intent on making you part with your money. Instead, the demand for wide-leg trousers is coming from…you.
‘Wide-leg trousers’ was the top search term on the M&S website last week, and sales of its £35 pale blue wide-leg jeans are already up 110 per cent on last year. The retailer expects demand to carry on through into autumn as well.
If you’re used to wearing slim or straight-leg trousers, it may take a second to work out how to style a wider silhouette. The key to success is in a high waist - the most flattering fit as it draws the eye to the narrowest point of your torso. Tucking (or French tucking) your top into the waistband creates the illusion of length, and ensure the leg shape widens above the knee. M&S is good for this as it offers tall and petite versions of many items. Once you get your head around it, there’ll be no turning back.
There's lots more to like in the new collection. Gone were the drippy, ditsy floral midis which have populated the shop floor in recent years (and accounted for some of the retailer’s mixed success when it comes to clothing). Instead there were bold block colours, versatile tailoring and dresses which have sell-out written all over them.
Even in a cost of living crisis, this is promising news - and the high street as a whole. Three-quarters of M&S customers plan to buy new pieces for their summer wardrobes, so if designers strike the right balance between mainstream appeal and trends, this will seriously bolster its bottom line which is already on the up after sales role 8.8 per cent in the final three months of 2022.
So what else is M&S getting right this spring? These seven items have the greatest potential to bring the rest of your wardrobe to life.
The new three-piece suit
M&S has gone big on summer tailoring with an offering that will solve both professional and social wardrobe dilemmas. There’s an emerald green blazer (£79) which can be teamed with matching shorts (£25, available in a range of lengths) or trousers (£59). Buy all three pieces for maximum versatility. Another hero buy? The lime linen-blend (less likely to crease) shorts suit with an easy drawstring waist.
The retailer has found that shoppers are so keen on matching sets, it will soon offer matching trousers or skirts with 80 percent of its blazers.
The towering platforms we’ve seen on the catwalks lately look like a sprained ankle waiting to happen. That’s why these flatforms are so appealing: The chunky sole offers height without the pain, while the delicate straps balance it with a little femininity. The display featured a neon orange pair, but I prefer the black colourway, which I spotted on a member of the M&S press team.
Florals - but not as you know them
Don’t worry, M&S hasn’t cancelled the floral midi too. It has had an upgrade though. Macro floral prints are reminiscent of the Seventies, while embroidered floral details feature on linen beach cover-ups and kaftans.
A bomber jacket
This is set to be your go-to between seasons layer. In the past three weeks alone, M&S has been selling one every half hour, outstripping supply to the extent that buyers have boosted their orders for autumn too - also a clear sign that the bomber jacket trend is set to stick around for a while.
An ‘It’ dress
There were two standout dresses in the collection which are surefire best sellers. One is a slinky-yet-wearable pink midi which could easily pass for a designer piece. Another is a white and green floral with a tiered skirt and twist detail at the back - carefully positioned so that you can still wear a bra with it. Zara’s next ‘It’ dress has some serious competition.
Last summer, shipping delays resulted in a swimwear shortage across the high street. With M&S currently selling a swimsuit every two minutes (66 percent more than last year), it looks like shoppers don’t want to face the same issues again - especially given data that shows 51 percent of customers are planning a beach holiday this summer. The M&S USP is its generous size range and tummy control tech - in terms of style, minimalist bandeau and asymmetric pieces are the heroes this season.
A linen shirt
The ultimate versatile summer wardrobe essential, it’s no wonder that M&S is selling 11 of its £35 linen relaxed shirts every hour. Wear it with wide-leg trousers for work, with jeans at the weekend, and as a beach cover-up come holiday time. And the more you wash it, the softer it’ll get. Yes, it’ll crease, but that’s all part of its charm.