Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Marks & Spencer's red lace dress


This is not just a dress. This is a M&S dress. An Autograph exclusive even.

Yes, this Marks & Spencer red lace dress has probably had as much coverage as the Whistles Carrie skirt. And no wonder. Its similarity to Erdem's Margot dress makes it highly desirable. But, while the publicity came and went, the dress didn't – it only hit the shops this month (I say 'hit the shops' loosely, it's only available at London's Marble Arch store and online).

Anyway, good news if you thought you'd missed it. And bad news for other high-street copies – from French Connection to Asda – as the M&S version is by far the best quality and reasonably priced at £89. It's just the right shade of red (chic rather than cheap) and a very pretty lace (not McQueen's Royal School of Needlework standards, obviously, but elegant all the same).

Which makes me really sad that it's not the perfect fit. Now, if I weren't still on a high about my free Whistles dress, I'd be gutted. But this M&S dress is designed for the more ample of bust, broader of shoulder and slightly chunkier of arm. The latter two details I could live with, but the roominess my chest doesn't fill makes for a terrible fit (I've tried my best to disguise it in these pictures!).

Now, if only I were Sam Cam and could get M&S to run up a dress especially for me! (Remember that dove-grey, polka-dot dress that she wore to the Conservative party conference in 2009? A £65 design to celebrate the store's 125th birthday, it sold out fast. So much so, M&S had to have one specially made for the PM's wife.)

Sure, the M&S dress is not as skater-girl short as Erdem's design, which makes it more prim that cute. And the lining appears golden rather than nude, which in turn looks more bridesmaid than almost-bare-flesh sexy. But the balance of the demure with harlot's scarlet makes for a head-turner – and one that looks far more expensive than £89 (especially with those sweet scalloped edges).

Plus, its versatility makes it a great investment. From work to weddings and cocktails to city breaks, you'll get a whole lot of wear out of this number. Just keep it on the right side of sweet (rather than slutty) and you'll have the look nailed. For example, think statement shoes, not stilettos; a ballerina bun rather than a vampy blow-out…

Now I'm almost talking myself into keeping this dress! But that's plain silly. If it doesn't fit, it doesn't fit. Anybody recommend a good tailor?

PS. My new beauty love is Giorgio Armani Lip Wax in 5 Cardinal Red. If you're scared of red lipstick, let this be your introduction – it's more subtle and sheer and you can build up the colour the braver you get. Right now it's in the Selfridges sale for £14, reduced from £20. Click here to buy.


  1. Super lovely blog!


  2. I'm in Oxford st today and might nip in there and try the dress on - I have a big bust and a chunky farm girl arm so it might work on me! M and S sizes are notoriously bigger than anywhere else (hold up their 12 with a Karen Millen 12 as illustration)

  3. Hurrah for a Margot style for the slightly bigger of chest - the French Connection version is far too tight for me so I might have to give this one a go : )

  4. I have been eyeing this up the past week for a work do. HELP though! What kind of shoes? I love to accessorise but this frock has me beat. Black sling back stiletto's too slutty. My M&S brown wedges too casual. SOS - sort out shoes!

  5. this is SO cute! i love lace, and i love reddy lace even better! :)

    in the mood to say 'awe'? i just did an adorable baby post you should probably check out, too. ;)

    follow me?

  6. You had this up before Angie Smith put it on her style blog.. She obvs reads yours for style advice :)

  7. WOW, i really love your blog and follow you now on bloglovin. :) When you will, can you follow me back on my blog or on bloglovin! I wear really happy about you following my darling :)

    Lots of love :)

  8. Glad to see this is proving to be a popular blog post. Individual replies below...

    Thanks Dylana Suarez!

    Deborah P, hope you got the dress!

    shipshapeandbristolfashion, the sizing on the M&S dress is definitely more generous than the French Connection one :)

    Hey Peachey, I'd look to Erdem's spring/summer 2011 collection for shoe inspiration. See what he teamed his red lace dress with. Ballerina pumps look cute, but for a work do, I'd probably go for fierce heels! It'll add attitude to the 'sweetness' of the dress. Have fun at your do!

    rach. - I've with you there on red + lace. love.

    Hannah-Sarah, I'm ashamed to say I had to look up who Angie Smith was! But yes, I first blogged about this dress at the beginning of June, when it hit the shops :)

    Ayse, welcome to the world of Bargainista Fashionista! Thanks for following me on bloglovin'.

    Bargainista Fashionista x x x

    1. I found this post only now as I was looking for a picture of this dress. I was given the same one by my friend and decided to alter it as it was not my size and I wanted a different style. Just thought it would be great to keep a picture on record how it looked before. It's a beautiful dress, I love how the lining makes the red lace stand out. I needed a red dress especially for an occasion and it is really hard to find one in lace in proper fiery red. (I couldn't afford the Issa version :( ).
      If I found your post earlier I could have offered you the alteration.
      Anyway, great blog! :)



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