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Style: 'I dressed all over in M&S thermals to see if it saved putting the heating on'

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The UK had its first proper taste of freezing temperatures this winter when ice and snow swept in earlier this month. In normal circumstances this would cause most people to crank up the central heating in a bid to keep the chill at bay, but soaring energy bills have made people much more cautious about using extra gas or electricity.

Experts, including Martin Lewis on his Money Saving Expert, have encouraged people to "heat the human, not the home" as a means of saving money while not getting too cold. One way of achieving this effect is to wear layers of the right clothing - such as special thermal wear.

Shoppers who have been putting this idea into practice have singled out Marks and Spencer's range of thermal wear - especially its Heatgen™ clothing - for particular praise, the Manchester Evening News reports. The Heatgen™ technology fabric is said to "lock in" warmth and features a "brushed" material on the inside which is said to "keep you extra warm when the weather gets chilly".

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The MEN's lifestyle editor Dianne Bourne decided to try the M&S range for herself, dressing head to toe in the garments to see if it kept her whole body warm as an alternative to putting the heating on. She went to the large M&S store in Manchester city centre to buy up all the women's thermals she could find - and discovered that plenty of customers had seemingly already done exactly the same thing.

"When I headed there the shelves had been stripped rather bare of most of the thermals range - and there were only limited sizes remaining in store of selected items on my visit (although the range is available in sizes 6 to 22 if you order online)," said Dianne.

Thermal Heatgen Plus top and thermal leggings © MEN Thermal Heatgen Plus top and thermal leggings

"However in the womenswear range I managed to pick up some of the different Thermal Heatgen™ Plus options in my size which boast an "extra warmth" tag on them, which you can also buy online here in a range of sizes and colours. This included a long sleeved thermal top for £16 and thermal leggings for £16 and there is also a range of tops and long john thermals for men online and in stores too.

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"M&S are also doing a range of thermal "extra warmth" ankle socks this year with a pack of three pairs for £10. I also picked up a pair of their traditional thermal leggings for £12.50 and a two pack of thermal turtleneck tops for £25."

Dianne said she particularly liked the Heatgen long-sleeved top which came in a sparkly black colour option. "It was so snazzy you could actually wear this as a going out top - and was a refreshing change from the old stereotypes of thermals as holey cream vests and long johns," she said.

The sparkly Heatgen top made a refreshing thermal change © MEN The sparkly Heatgen top made a refreshing thermal change

Dianne continued: "I also thought the turtleneck two pack was good value for money - I bought mine in two different colours of black and a black and beige stripe - and working out at £12.50 per top. Both were smart enough for workwear when worn on their own, or as decent base layers for when you need to wear extra layers.

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"The socks are also a welcome addition as they're smart enough to wear as "work socks" but with added fluffiness to warm up your toes. But the biggest hit for me was the Thermal Heatgen™ Plus leggings.

"These were like a normal comfy legging, but with a soft brushed inside which kept me super warm and cosy throughout the day and I felt that I benefitted from going a size up than what I would normally wear in these to make them a less tighter fit and more useful for everyday lounging.

"While the more traditional thermal leggings, with knitted stripes, would be best worn under trousers, I felt with the Heatgen leggings I would happily wear these out just as they are as they were so thick and warm. In fact I need to buy another pair because I literally don't want to take them off now they're just so flipping warm and comfy."

Dianne said that, as she tends to feel cold living in an old house, she still "wasn't convinced" the thermals would help her resist "hitting the heating the button". But she said: "I dressed myself head to toe with the thermal top, leggings and thermal socks and starting work at 9am decided to see how long before I would feel the cold."

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Dianne loves the thermal leggings © MEN Dianne loves the thermal leggings

With the temperature 9 degrees Celsius outside, Dianne said she managed to continue working until 2pm before starting to feel the cold without any heating. She added an extra jumper layer, but admitted to "caving in" by 2.30pm and put the heating on for an hour.

"The main problem I found was the part left uncovered by the thermal wear - eg my hands - which started to get cold as I typed away while the rest of me was staying pretty warm in the layers. But overall, the thermal layers, underneath a fleecy jumper, did keep me really nice and warm," said Dianne.

"I've seen in other thermal ranges the addition of a "thumb hole" on thermal tops to give a bit of extra warmth to hands, and this would have been a welcome addition to the M&S range I felt."

Overall, Dianne said she was "pretty impressed" with the M&S range, chiefly the Heatgen items. "All of the items I felt offered a reasonably-priced way to try and keep yourself warm this winter," she said.

"They are all really easy to wash in a standard washing machine, and as they're created with stretch they are also particularly comfortable and practicable items to have at hand. The real test will be if and when the temperatures plummet back to below zero again like they did earlier this month. But at least I feel a bit more prepared to layer myself up for a cold snap now."

Find out more about M&S' full range of thermal wear here.

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