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Daily Archives: February 11, 2014

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How M&S bras have changed since its first back in 1926

When high street stores first started selling bras in the 1920s they were more about providing upholstery than uplift.

Today, as the nation’s men turn their minds to what to get their wives and girlfriends for Valentine’s Day, many will be looking for something racy and lacy.

New material released by the Marks & Spencer Archive gives a fascinating insight into how lingerie has moved from being functional, through comfortable, to the sort of skimpy patches of cloth that might make a pole dancer blush.
However, generations of women of all shapes and sizes, not least Margaret Thatcher, have come to rely on M&S bras and knickers.
M&S first began selling bras in 1926 with a simple, unstructured, white bra with delicate ribbon straps, while the only adornment was a tiny pink rose at the V of the cleavage.
It was designed to suit the drop-waisted flapper style fashions that were the rage in the 1920s, as seen recently in The Great Gatsby and the latest series of Downton Abbey.
The demure creation marked the start of a new chapter in M&S’ history, which subsequently became famed for the quality and technology packed in to its lingerie.
The first uplift bras were introduced in 1932 under the slogan ‘A perfect figure guaranteed’, while the resourceful store made use of parachute silk in the 1940s to ensure no sagging in the morale of the nation’s women.

Bizarrely, until the 1950s most bra retailers failed to recognise that women came in different shapes and sizes and produced bras in just one cup size.
In 1951, M&S took the bold stance of introducing three – small, medium, large – and by 1953 the chain was selling some 125,000 a week.