Swapping Topshop For Marks & Spencer: How My Style Has Evolved Over The Years

I’ve always been obsessed with clothes; I love the transformative power of a great dress or killer pair of shoes, or how a warm jumper can make me feel all warm and cosy when I’m feeling blue. They say it takes only six seconds for someone to make a judgement about you, and I’m a firm believer that the clothes we wear and how we present ourselves plays a big part of that process – whether subconsciously or not. The clothes we put on in the morning can provide little snippets and insights into our personalities, but also convey what we want others to think of us; it only takes a bit of power dressing to be taken more seriously in the office, or a band tee to prove we know just as much about the Glastonbury line-up as you! Although I have a certain ‘style’, that style can evolve from one day to the next depending upon who I want to be, where I want to go and who I want to meet.

Over the last year or so I’ve really been reflecting upon my style and how it’s evolved since my teens and twenties. Back in the early 2000’s fashion wasn’t exactly the most stylish (most of my uni pictures involve fishnet vests, flouro colours, rainbow heels, lots of lycra-enriched material and wide leg pinstripe jeans; cringe!) but I definitely dressed according to the hottest colours, textures and styles of the season. I spent most of my student loan in Select, Bay Trading and Etam on a combination of corduroy and denim, dressing to suit what the magazines and celebrities were telling me was hot – rather than what actually suited me and my body shape. I didn’t really know how to accentuate my favourite features or conceal my hated ones, instead just dressing like everyone else in an attempt to fit in.

By the time I’d reached my mid-to-late-20’s I’d started to dress in shapes I knew worked for my small waist and big hips, making the most of my large boobs rather than being embarrassed that they were there. I was less fussed about the big trends of the season and more focused about an outfit that looked good on me, flitting between Topshop, New Look, H&M and Zara to find that perfect dress for a Saturday night out. Although I wanted to look good, comfort was never at the top of my priority list: I was well known for having to pop out at lunch to buy a new pair of shoes because my choice that morning was so uncomfortably unpractical, or having to pick up a scarf or cardigan because my notion that ‘a jacket just doesn’t go with this’ was regrettable as soon as it started to rain.

Since I’ve hot my 30’s, however, I’ve suddenly become so much more concerned with being comfortable and dressing to suit my mood rather than needing to feel ‘high fashion’ or dressed up to the nines every single day. Maybe it was an age thing, realising I’m so much more than my appearance and the clothes I choose to wear, or maybe it was the fact I started to work from home and rarely see anyone other than the Starbucks man and my gym manager from one day to the next, but it was really quite liberating to stop caring so much. Don’t get me wrong, I still like to look nice and add a sprinkling of something on-trend and current, but that is more likely to be in the format of jeans and a jumper or pleated midi and tee than a fully coordinated look.

What I’ve also started to realise is that those shops I relied on for so many years no longer seem to offer much for me anymore. I can’t remember the last time I bought anything other than a tee or pair of flats from Topshop or Zara, or the last time I could even get one of H&M’s rather annoyingly small dresses done up around my breasticles. I’ve subconsciously started to rely on Next, New Look and Marks & Spencer to get my fashion fix – knowing that their clothes are designed with a curvy woman’s shape in mind, brilliantly combining fashion and comfort without overcharging for the privalege.

Most of the contents of my wardrobe are from a few stores and online destinations I know I can rely on, providing the room I need to move (and breathe) in textures and fabrics that actually last longer than a season. (God that makes me sound old.) A few years ago I wouldn’t have been seen dead in M&S, but now most of my fave things have been picked up while popping in for a lunchtime food fix; similarly, I always thought Next clothes were for old ladies and mums on a school run, but I’ve got so many great accessories, dresses, jumpers and even swimming costumes from their stores. When I walk into Topshop I see all the clothes I would’ve loved to have worn in my teenage years, but very few pieces that would actually make it onto my person as a 34 year old woman with hips, booms and a rather large posteria.

So is it me? Is it them? Are the stores I used to love getting
younger, targeting slimmer and more youthful customers with their
‘quickly translated from the catwalk’ outfits? Are the stores I used to
hate waking up to the fact women over 25 also need clothes and probably
want them to last longer than three washes? Is it the fact I now look at
a PVC skirt and thing ‘lord that’s going to chafe’ and look at a
snuggly jumper and instantly want to take a nap in it? I guess it’s
probably a combination of all of the above, with a little bit of ‘I just
want to wear what I want’ thrown in. It’s not rocket science, but
living by a few little rules can really make a difference to your
wardrobe and outlook on your fashion choices; here are the ones I like
to stick to.

1. Accessorise. For me, the key to a
great outfit is all in the accessories – you can be as comfy as you like
if you’ve got a cute bag or killer pair of sunglasses, because that’s
what people remember. Right now it’s all about a statement earring, so
popping on a pair of tassels will transform even those baggy jeans and
old tee into something stylish.

2. Flats are cool. I
don’t get this thing of wearing five inch heels all day every day,
especially when there are so many great flats available now. Embrace
comfy boots, ballet shoes and even sparkly sandals and change them up to
suit your look; shoes really can make an outfit, as well as a
statement, and they don’t have to be uncomfortable. 

Dress to suit your body shape and needs, not just for fashion. Although
there will always be trends, colours of the season and high-fashion on
the high street, it doesn’t mean you have to embrace it all. Pick and
choose bits that work for you and your body shape, as well as your
lifestyle, working from a capsule wardrobe of shapes and shades you know
work for you.

4. Embrace colour; if in doubt, wear a
flash of colour and it will instantly make your look way more
interesting. It’s so tempting to stick to a uniform of black, white and
grey, but colour keeps a look youthful and fun – and also means you
don’t have to over-complicate the shapes or styles.

how about you? Has your style evolved over time? Have to started to
swap Topshop for M&S, or are you just baffled by fashion altogether
and wish it was acceptable to leave the house in PJs?

M&S Cable Knit Jumper | £35.00 | LINK

George @ ASDA Jeans | £20.00 | LINK

M&S Suede Buckle Ankle Boots | £69.00 | LINK
Quay Retro Sunglasses | £20.00 | LINK  

Olivia Burton Grey & Rose Gold Watch | £82.00 | LINK
Yoshi Custard Cream Bag | £50.00 | LINK

Thanks to Kirsty from Fashion For Lunch for the photos!    



Features PR samples unless otherwise stated. To read my full disclaimer, click here.  



  1. Kelly Glen
    October 19, 2017 / 8:02 am

    I think everyone's fashion choices change as they get older, I've never been into fashion, all I really want is practical clothes that are casual and that I feel right in. It's just about finding what's right for you.

  2. Anika May
    October 19, 2017 / 9:40 am

    Totally agree with your points here, your style always evolves and matures! I definitely shop at a new range of stores in comparison to my younger years. Lovely tips too!Anika | anikamay.co.uk

    • Hayley Hall
      October 22, 2017 / 5:39 am

      Thanks Anika! I find myself walking into places like Topshop, looking at a necklace or pair of flats and walking out again now…

  3. last year's girl
    October 19, 2017 / 10:10 am

    I love how your style has evolved (as you can probably tell if you track your affiliate links… ;). Would absolutely agree with you about Marks and Spencer (adding the jumper to my wishlist) but I'm yet to warm to Next as any time I've worn their clothes in the past I've felt like a 40-something dressing like what she thinks a 20-something wants to look like. You'll just have to start picking me out some fabulous pieces from there, too!Hope you're enjoying the honeymoon!Lis / last year's girl x

    • Hayley Hall
      October 22, 2017 / 5:41 am

      Haha I will do! I find Next an odd one that totally depends on the store too – we have two in my town, a small one which is rubbish and a huge out of town store that seems to offer pretty much everything. The key is looking online and in bigger stores I think!

  4. Pam Scalfi
    October 19, 2017 / 10:30 am

    I can relate. My style has certainly changed too and I love shopping at M&S (I was never really into Topshop and the likes). I too want comfort and flats are my go-to!Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

    • Hayley Hall
      October 22, 2017 / 5:42 am

      I'm all about a jumper and some comfy boots for autumn 😉

  5. Sara Fleming
    October 19, 2017 / 11:53 am

    Marks & Spencer have been nailing it this year!Sara – Flemingo

    • Hayley Hall
      October 22, 2017 / 5:42 am

      Haven't they! To the point I think I have a problem!

  6. Beki
    October 20, 2017 / 9:54 am

    I love that Custard Cream bag! I definitely agree with all of this. I've always much preferred to feel comfortable rather than fashionable, but your tips are really helpful. It's good to know how to add some style and class to a simple outfit, so I feel 'grown-up' and comfy, rather than just feeling like a student in jeans and trainers all the time! 🙂

    • Hayley Hall
      October 22, 2017 / 5:43 am

      Isn't is so cute! It was a random insta find and I love it. I'm all about the flattering cuts and accessorising it up – hope you've got a little inspo 🙂

  7. Danish Pastry
    October 20, 2017 / 5:16 pm

    I'm loving that custard cream bag too, what's the leather like? It looks nice and soft.

    • Hayley Hall
      October 22, 2017 / 5:43 am

      It's sooooo soft. Almost a bit too soft as the material easily bends when you stuff the bag full of stuff…

    • Hayley Hall
      October 22, 2017 / 5:44 am

      You're amazing!!!

  8. Danielle Alexa
    October 22, 2017 / 10:59 am

    I love M&S, their clothes are just so wearable as part of a capsule wardrobe!Danielle xxhttp://www.fashionbeautyblog.co.uk/

  9. Sharon Elsie
    October 23, 2017 / 12:39 pm

    My fashion choices have change a lot with age too. I love H&M and agree that M&S has good choices too. I assumed we get better with age knowing what suits us best. You looked good in that colour. Sharon Elsie | diva-in-me.com

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