How I styled the viral £35 Marks and Spencer striped knitted dress

Every summer there seems to be one item of clothing that captures the hearts of influencers and shoppers alike, setting the internet ablaze and quickly becoming a highly sought-after sell out sensation. 

In 2019 it was the polka dot Zara dress, last year was a puff-sleeve pink midi from Sainsbury’s – but these annual trends walked so that high street favourite Marks and Spencer could run into the summer of 2023 with the cotton rich striped knitted dress.

The coveted piece, sold out in both its black and khaki varieties, has immediately become a symbol of the current zeitgeist, being plastered across Instagram, TikTok and now, Threads. 

And while there’s no definitive formula for why a piece goes viral, some of the factors which have set this summer essential up for success include its timeless design and versatility alongside its accessibility, affordability and social media buzz that comes with it. 

The £35 dress has truly sent the internet wild, totally captivating fashion enthusiasts who have scrambled to get their hands on it, myself included. The first time I tried to order it, it was snatched from my basket by a speedier shopper as I input my card details – which felt like an unfair offside rule, but I remained patient. I checked Vinted, where ‘brand new with tags’ versions of the TikTok-approved fit were being sold for over £50, but stayed steadfast in my decision to refresh the Marks and Spencer web page that I’d saved in my bookmarks until one size medium came up to purchase.

Made of 66 per cent cotton, the dress offers a flattering round neckline and sleeveless design in a comfy, regular fit. For reference, I’m a size 10 and found that the medium was a good regular fit for me, but because of the nature of the fabric, you can size it down if you’d prefer a more figure-hugging silhouette.

From the M&S Collection, it’s an effortless wardrobe staple that combines classic and contemporary style in cream and black stripes that offer a timeless appeal, with a side split at the hem for easy movement, making it the perfect piece to pack for beach holidays or city breaks.

But it’s so much more than a holiday dress. This is a capsule wardrobe piece that can be worn time and time again, year after year for any occasion, and I’m going to talk you through how I love to style it in a way that feels cool, chic and casual yet still effortlessly elegant. Think ‘she’s just thrown this outfit on but looks so put together’.

For a midweek date night with Jake to our favourite Little Dumpling King, I elevated the Marks and Spencer knitted dress with a tailored blazer in a complementary stone shade that highlights the cream in the dress. Mine is from Little Mistress and is a lightweight and relaxed cord material that offers a sleek, monochromatic look – but black would work equally as well.

I added my trusty black Dr Marten Blaire sandals which are barely off my feet this time of the year. Scrolling through Instagram, sandals have by far been the most popular footwear to team with this dress, whether is a chunky black pair that add an on-trend twist, or a set of heeled espadrilles for those holiday vibes, sandals provide a chic and comfortable alternative to heels and are far cooler to wear, too.

Completing the ensemble, I accessorised with delicate gold jewellery for a touch of glamour, including my Abbott Lyon name necklace, Daisy London gold signet, my engagement ring, and a simple pair of gold sleeper hoops. I matched the jewellery to the gold hardware on an insanely old cream handbag, though I did nearly dress it down with the Uniqlo round mini shoulder bag in cream – another viral phenomenon.

This fashion-forward outfit strikes the ideal balance between glam and casual, embracing casual-chic in a way that makes it the go-to look for any occasion, whether it’s weekend brunch at your favourite city spot, or a casual walk through the city streets. 

It can be quickly dressed up with heels, or down with a more casual purse, while switching out other accessories allow for a whole new vibe entirely. Add a statement tote bag and a wide-brimmed straw hat for a touch of boho flair, or team with a denim jacket, some classic white sneakers and a tan belt for a fresher feel. 

What I adore even more about this dress is that it’s age-defying too. It looks just as gorgeous on women in their 20s and 30s as it does on women in their 50s and beyond, which perhaps contributes to its popularity and ultimate viral status. 

While the M&S cotton-rich striped knitted dress is currently out of stock in all sizes of both colours, it’s well worth keeping an eye on this page intermittently for any one-off returns, or for when it finally comes back into stock.

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