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M&S EditionOur lingerie story

90 years of LINGERIE

We’ve been selling lingerie since 1926. Discover our journey since post-war girdles to the launch of our 90th anniversary campaign and how we have become the ultimate underwear destination.

Our lingerie story

Did you know that we sell over 20 million bras a year? Now that’s something to celebrate! We’ve come a long way from 90 years ago when we launched our first bra in the midst of the roaring Twenties. Back then, women wanted boyish figures and flatter chests to get the glamorous, straight-up-and-down flapper look – a far cry from the boom of plastic surgery and 2016’s waist-training frenzy to achieve Kim Kardashian’s cult curves.

What has remained constant is the female quest for ‘‘the perfect figure’’ – usually dictated by the icons of the day. Be it Marilyn Monroe’s hourglass silhouette or Kate Moss androgynous frame, lingerie has long been the secret weapon underpinning these looks.

Over the decades, our lingerie offering has increased exponentially. Today, it spans award-winning innovations and bestselling designer collaborations.

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" Take a journey through the past 90 years with our exclusive archive film"

Lingerie through the ages

1930s: The Marks & Spencer Christmas Special in 1932 showcased the trend of uplifting bras and slinky nightwear were all the rage.

1940s: In the forties following the Second World War, women craved a more shapely aesthetic, such as cinched waists and a desire for a ‘‘round seat’’, which was made possible by the power of our shapewear. In 1947, M&S staged its first catwalk lingerie show, featuring corsetry, girdles and moulded-foam cups.

1950s: By 1953, M&S was selling 125,000 bras each week. Then came the nylon corselette, designed for cinched-in full-body shaping. New fabrics and technologies were constantly being developed and M&S introduced the original cup sizes: small, medium and large; it wasn’t until 18 years later that A–DD and plus size lingerie replaced these.

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1960s: As shown in this 1960 illustration, corsetry came into its own in the sixties. Panty girdles were introduced for a more “rounded bottom”.

1970s: By the seventies, M&S staff were measuring customers’ bra sizes (under their coats on the shop floor). In 1974, the first halter-neck bra was introduced and it was the first M&S bra to sell one million pieces. In 1977, a big trend followed which involved matching sets with seamless cups and dainty lace.

1980s: Trends were really starting to filter through come 1987, from backless bras and sporty styles to sexy lingerie and bodysuits.

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Sarah elhajji

Fashion Editor

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