M&S goes big on suits with shorts for hybrid-working women

M&S Autograph Irish Linen Shorts with matching short suit jacket.

M&S goes big on suits with shorts for hybrid-working women

Store says it is focusing on the style in response to shoppers’ demands for less formal, more flexible clothing

First John Lewis cancelled the floral dress. Now M&S is coming for trousers.

Unveiling its latest womenswear collection earlier this week, the British retailer rebuked the traditional two-piece suit. In place of expected tailored trousers, there were shorts.

Fear not, these are not the short shorts Gen Z favours at summer festivals.

M&S’s versions are more of a Bermuda style. Cut loose, they fall just above the knee. They come with matching blazers, also slightly oversized with structured shoulders and longer length hems in a variety of colours and materials including wool blends and pure linens.

An M&S short suit from the new range.

M&S says it is focusing on the style in response to shoppers demanding a new type of workwear. With hybrid working becoming more mainstream, its customers want clothing that reflect this modern amalgam.

A coordinated short suit is smart enough to wear to the office on hot days but not too formal to wear for working from home or to the pub.

Separates also appeal to those customers who have become more cautious about spending due to the cost of living crisis. The blazer and shorts can be mixed and matched with existing pieces in wardrobes.

The temperature in the UK is hovering around the 12C mark but sales at M&S are already up.

Tomato red and jade green iterations are proving popular with sets being bought 70% of the time. Going forward, the high street giant says 80% of jackets will come with a matching short option.

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A model in a Jil Sander trouser suit in September 2022.

It’s a styling combination we first saw on the runways. At Chanel its usual bouclé tweed skirt suits were replaced by Bermuda shorts while at Jil Sander longer length shorts were paired with sandals and flat knee-high boots as the models walked under umbrellas in the rain – proof they can handle a British summer.

The trend is quickly being championed by other high street retailers too. Reiss says it’s a key focus, with white shorts featuring pressed creases and a matching blazer already a bestseller. Over at Cos there are relaxed Bermuda shorts with front pleats in sandy beiges and bright greens alongside matching blazers. Jigsaw says due to the popularity of its chocolate brown twill co-ord it is introducing pinstripe and pink herringbone linen versions too.

Viola Davis arriving at the AFI Awards Luncheon at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on 13 January.

While models including Gigi Hadid have been pictured fresh off the runway in sets, this isn’t just for younger co-workers. In Hollywood it’s more mature A-listers that are embracing the style. For a recent awards lunch the 57-year-old actor Viola Davis wore a sky blue set from the American brand Lafayette 148 while Michelle Yeoh, who won her first Oscar aged 60 earlier this week, was pictured in a pastel pink co-ord from Off-White, a streetwear inspired brand usually favoured by millennials.