Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Let them wear polyester


I have often thought that if there were a national referendum on whether to scrap either the Royal Family or Marks and Spencer's, it would be the tiaras and state banquet dinner services that the removal men would be wrapping up in tissue paper, not bundles of reasonably priced reinforced gusset knickers.

So much as I hate kicking M&S, (I am currently wearing a pair of their jeans) I cannot help agree with Sarah Mower's account of its new Portfolio range, aimed at the over-50s:

If there's one thing worse than mutton dressed as lamb, it's mutton dressed as mutton. I wanted to approve of M&S's Marie Helvin-promoted Portfolio range, but wild horses wouldn't drag me into that stuff. I just can't see how it's supposed to offer anything different from the rest of the M&S stock, and the attempt at "elegance" for the over-50s is worse than patronising.

What woman (of any age) could possibly want a pair of pull-on jersey bell-bottoms with gold "sailor" buttons? For a start, the shape is not fashionable in any sense. Second, the thought of what they would do to anyone's backside and thighs is enough to make one cry. And third… hang on, aren't these just souped-up versions of the synthetic slacks M&S has sold since time immemorial? I had a Saturday job in Bath's M&S as a schoolgirl, and I know of which I speak. At that age, I hoped someone would shoot me before I got old enough to need flared crimplene bottoms.

17 comments:

Toby Wollin said...

I did a fast run-through of the skirts - their idea of 'knee length' looks to be at least 3" below the knee - the other ones are definite 'Great Depression' looks. Nothing young, cutting edge, or truly fashionable here. Yuck. Quick, where are the granny scarves?

Completely Alienne said...

I have completely given up on M&S clothes. I look at them and think of my mother - not a good look. This range won't help them in the new depression; is their food good enough to pull them through?

dana said...

Help me, what's the US equivalent of M&S? Is it Sears? Macy's? Dillards? Mervyns? I haven't traveled enough to figure this one out.

Geraldine Ryan said...

Totally agree - this range sucks. I won't be touching it with a polyester barge pole.

Lost In A Common Language said...

Terrible, terrible M&S skirts.
Why should at-or-over-the-knee skirts be so awful?
I used to find interesting skirts at Anthropologie but last year they decided to throw off customers who do not choose all-the-year-round bare knees and arms; so, between frump and vacuous floozy, I have nowhere to go.

(I will defend M&S undies to the death, relying as I do on emergency supply parcels sent across the Atlantic).

Susan said...

I wonder if Kate Bosworth (M&S director of womenswear, aged about 50) is wearing any of the Portfolio range? I think we should be told!

Apparently this new range is aimed at women of 45+. So I don't really understand why they have chosen 56-year-old Marie Helvin to promote it. Still, even the glamorous Ms Helvin can't do anything about the clothes. I saw some of the range in the Richmond branch at the weekend, the tops in particular were horrible with baggy elbow-length sleeves.

PS: Spotted lots of the dreadful Patricia Field clothes in the sale at M&S Marble Arch over Christmas. No surprise there.

greying pixie said...

This is surely the most bizarre piece of marketing that M&S has done so far. Whilst I can understand the choice of Twiggy to advertise their brand as she is so much part of our culture now, who could ever say that of the wonderfully exotic and utterly gorgeous Marie Helvin? I watched the video but was so entranced by her charm that I took not one bit of notice of the clothes. She must have had the clothes peg job done on her however as they are enormous on the website. 'Uber Frumpy' would be a good title!

Dare I add however, that I do quite like the shirt dress. Sorry.

phyllis said...

I agree with Pix; the shirtwaist is not bad, but for crying out loud, who is the photo stylist responsible for the blah accessories? Flesh tone hose, boring shoes, dull dull dull jewelry and for heaven’s sake what is with those brown peep toe pumps?? A denim skirt should never been worn with anything except boots or dark tights and dark shoes.

miss cavendish said...

I especially dislike the patterned fabric on the overly long skirts.

adele said...

All I can say is: GEVALT! And I too am wearing their jeans and always have done. Their ordinary clothes have gone through some funny phases but this takes the biscuit! Those scarves...awful. Where are the wonderful colours we've been told are all the rage this season? Not here, for sure.

Ona said...

Phyllis - look at the rest of the M&S website and you'll see most of the womens clothing is badly styled. The trousers are the ones I like best - generally make the model look fat and the lengths are always wrong when pictured with high heels! Does M&S ever benchmark themselves against their rivals and see how way off the mark they are.

Rosie Damson said...

The 'Queen Mother' bag says it all.

Geraldine Ryan said...

I don't like Per Una - too fussy, too many frills and unsubtle colours and wild patterns but I quite like Limited Edition and I love the fact that the trousers come in a long length.

Deb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deb said...

You've really hit a nerve with this one. I'm an American and have lived in London for 10 years. I'm fed up with M&S. Everyone looks the same. You go to France and you're sitting next to a lady in the same damn sundress. Dana, I don't think there's a US equivalent of M&S as there's a great deal of choice there--not really the "high street" mentality you get here. If I see another bias cut, frilly Per Una skirt I think I'll scream. I'm going to try high end charity shops for the quality and individuality I miss.

Anonymous said...

Call me dowdy, but I think that skirt's fine. No, I would not wear it, but I can get away with more and am willing to put in a tiny bit of effort. Some women don't care. They've made their peace with what they look like and how much effort and money they're going to devote to construct an appearance. I can't really say that's a bad thing.

I am vehemently pro-choice. I believe in the right to choose not to care about fashion.

lagatta, in Amsterdam this week said...

Actually, I find the denim gored skirt (it is a gored skirt, no?) less objectionable than most of the collection.

The sort of travel skirt that is adviseable in conservative places.

(aside, I've seen lots of people cycling chic despite the chilly weather. From a chap of a certain age in a flat cap to a very stylish lady).