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.