M&S swaps seasonal pieces for ones that are never-out-of-style

Out with the trends, in with the NOOS! As M&S swaps seasonal fashion for pieces that are ‘Never Out Of Style’, stylist reveals the 9 staples everyone needs, including a classic white shirt like Meghan Markle

  • M&S is shifting away from seasonal trends to pieces that can be worn year-round
  • Trying to turn around its clothing after reporting pre-tax losses of £209.4m
  • The retailer will focus on offering 100 ‘timeless essentials’ everyone needs 
  • Stylist Rachel Gold her tips for the NOOS – never out of style – pieces you need 

Marks & Spencer has announced it will shift away from seasonal pieces and focus its attention on classic staples in a bid to turnaround its clothing offering following a year of losses. 

The British high street stalwart last week reported pre-tax losses of £209.4million, its first annual loss in 94 years and its worst year on record. 

The clothes department, once a major attraction at M&S, was to blame. In hope of fixing the problem, chief executive Steve Rowe announced it will focus on ‘100 timeless essentials’ that everyone needs in their wardrobes. 

These classics will include cashmere jumpers and skinny jeans, the sort of pieces shoppers can buy once and wear year-round.  

Marks & Spencer has announced it will shift away from seasonal pieces and focus its attention on classic staples in a bid to turnaround its clothing offering following a year of losses. Stylist Rachel Gold revealed the classic pieces you need, including a trench like Hailey Bieber’s


The Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex both favour buying investment pieces that they wear again and again. Pictured, Kate in a sharp blazer and Meghan in a white shirt

This strategy has been dubbed ‘NOOS’, which stands for ‘never out of style’ or ‘never out of season’, by fashion insiders, according to Tamara Abraham of the Daily Telegraph. 

It is not new, as a concept, or as a business model but its adoption by a high street giant like M&S signals it is becoming more mainstream. 

It could mark a return to a time when shoppers relied on investment pieces that could be worn, reworn, mended, or passed down to a sibling, friend or family member.

‘For years we have be wearing classic pieces and most of us own (what we would consider to be) a few investment pieces. That special item that we either saved up for or we bought in a sale which even on sale was expensive,’ explained fashion stylist Rachel Gold.  

However the rise of online shopping sparked a wave of fast fashion e-tailers focused on producing quick turnaround, trend-led ‘throwaway’ pieces that could be bought for cheap, worn once, photographed, and then replaced with something else for the next night out.

Now a greater awareness of fashion’s impact on the environment, as well as sustainability’s growing ‘cool factor’, means some retailers, including M&S, are shifting towards the other end of the spectrum. 

A dress to suit your body type is key to any wardrobe, according to Rachel. A midi dress like the ones worn by Holly (above) can be easily adapted to give a number of different looks

Revealed: The 9 staples YOU need 

Stylist Rachel Gold, who shares her tips on YouTube and Instagram, revealed the key NOOS pieces every wardrobe needs: 

Trench coat: A classic trench will take you through the seasons. It looks fab flung over your shoulders with an evening dress or sequin number. It can be worn alone as a dress too!

Jeans: Just remember to buy in whatever shape best suits your figure. Try grey or pale pink for Summer in a lighter fabric.

Chunky boots: This style is here to stay! Surprisingly versatile, they can be worn with a summer or winter dress, trousers and jeans.

Heels: Always have a pair of good heels that fit well. Wedges are a good option if you can’t manage a sharp point. 

Blazer: Whereas once a classic blazer would have been in navy, now you can get a rainbow of gorgeous colours to suit your mood and personal style. Try a bright colour or white to elevate your wardrobe.

Dress: A good dress is a must, just make sure you choose the right cut and length for your body shape. If it’s midi, you can still change the look by belting and hoisting it up. If it’s a short dress you can try wearing trousers underneath.

White shirt: Will forever be in style worn with a blazer, jeans, under a dress with spaghetti straps, with a suit. If it’s oversized it can be worn with shorts under and chunky boots or alone. Go French and make it a beautiful but classic staple.

Cashmere sweater: In a good colour, ecru, navy, black, or a pastel will last you for years and can be worn over the shoulders, round your waist dressed up or down.

Suit: Every wardrobe needs one it is multi functional and will see you through the seasons as well as worn as the blazer of the trousers independently.

 

Leading the way are brands like Misha Nonoo, founded by the Duchess of Sussex’s BFF, which produces made-to-order pieces to cut down on waste. Others, like US-based Everlane, focus on wardrobe essentials that can be mixed and matched.

Fashion insiders and stylists have long championed buying fewer, higher quality pieces that you can wear for longer to serve as the ‘building blocks’ for your wardrobe. 

As Abraham explained: ‘You only need to buy a Burberry trench once, but you can wear it for decades to come. Ditto a Chanel handbag or your favourite crew-neck cashmere knit (provided the moths don’t get to it).’ 

Rachel agreed: ‘As a stylist I constantly show people how to style their clothes in multiple ways to get the most out of their wardrobes and looks. I am a huge fan of a classic wardrobe and then every season just topping up with a few on trend pieces and colours so that your look remains relevant and on trend.’ 

Victoria Beckham dressed to impress in a suit, another of the wardrobe staples everyone needs. A suit can look elegant on its own, or can be worn in separate parts

M&S is preparing to stock at least 30 per cent more of these key NOOS products than it would do normally, to avoid the disappointment of popular products selling out.  

Chairman Archie Norman said the chain was forced last year to rapidly pare back the range of products it was buying to reduce costs after the shock of store closures. That prompted a new focus on the size and shape of the entire clothing range.

Norman said the pandemic had made it ‘imperative’ to reduce the number of choices for customers. ‘We made decisions because we had to make them,’ he said. ‘But what emerged from that was very encouraging.

‘You’ll see an improvement now and there’s further improvement in the autumn and that’s not the end of the journey. I think there’s quite a lot further to go.’ 

The strategy follows a substantial thinning of ranges in stores to weed out poor selling product lines and reduce replication. Chief executive Steve Rowe said the number of lines had already been cut back by a quarter in three years which has made stores ‘cleaner and clearer’.

However not all analysts are confident this approach will be enough to save M&S. 

‘While M&S is confident this will succeed, it remains to be seen whenever a “cleaner and clearer” store will persuade consumers to venture out onto the high street,’ noted Liam Patterson, CEO and Founder at Google Shopping Management specialists Bidnamic.

‘With ecommerce booming and the infinite digital shelf offering endless choice, the decision to cut stock could counterintuitively harm the retailer’s ability to cater to all people. However the cost cutting is likely to prove effective and is a priority for many retailers after rising debt over the last year.’     

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