Why Is This Old-School Department Store Suddenly So Good?

New tricks, etc.

Style, Hat, Monochrome photography, Monochrome, Black-and-white, Chair, Suit trousers, Kitchen & dining room table, Vintage clothing, Sun hat,
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Kind of like the never-ending quest for perfect skin but with actually reachable metrics of success, retail, too, is an ouroboros of invention and reinvention. Some brands come back from decades of TEENAGE-BEACH-SEX-soaked mediocrity and emerge refined, like Sabrina returning to the garage from Paris. Others flounder under new management, even though the old management was a known cesspool. And yet, *other* others can quietly transform without compromising their storied, semi-dusty pasts to offer some really good, really affordable stuff.

That last one applies to British retailer Marks & Spencer, which has been slaying the game more than ever recently, maybe without you even knowing it. They've gone through some CEO shuffling and closures (tough times for all), but the wins—the wins! Two mega-successful collaborations with Alexa Chung, several slinky/vintage-y pieces from which can still be had. (I, for one, will not rest until I can put the vinyl-finish flasher trench in a UK size 8 on my back. Please, Santa.)

M&S's hold on the Fashion Girl doesn't stop there—here's Laura Jackson, presenter and extremely stylish person, in a pair of $50 pom-pom mules from the in-house collection. (Important: That means they meet the minimum spend for ¡free international shipping!)

In America, this would be the equivalent of replying "Woolworth's" when your mates ask where you got your double-breasted velvet blazer or your teddy-bear jacket. In France, it would be Monoprix, which is where the cool people buy their cashmere anyway. But now, to you and your granny, it's just that nice store with the good prices and pretty shoes.

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Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at Marie Claire. She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.