Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by: M&S Archive

This resource is part of a 'Fashion and Food' theme intended to provide a broad picture of product design, using selected items from the M&S Company Archive collection of clothing and food packaging images. The overall aim of the Fashion related resources is to show changing fashions throughout the history of the Company, changes in products over time and how this links to wider social history and world events.

Due to the nature of the subject matter in this resource, teachers are advised that it is aimed at older students to use as inspiration for design projects, or for those researching styles from different periods in 20th Century history.

Curriculum Links

  • KS4 Art and Design: Textile Design

FE/HE Subject Links

  • BA (Hons) Fashion Design
  • BTEC Fashion & Clothing (Lingerie)
  • City & Guild Certificate in Design & Craft - (Lingerie)

Learning Objectives

  • Knowledge of the development of M&S lingerie from the 1920s to the 1970s
  • Understanding of how the M&S underwear range became an important factor in the company's success in the 20th Century
  • Skills in research and investigation looking at archive photographs and examining further online resources

Discussion and Activity Ideas

  • Ask most people what they know about M&S and they will probably either talk about high quality food or underwear. Why do you think the M&S underwear range is so successful? Think of five key words or phrases that explain your answer and put them in order of importance
  • Lingerie is known as a 'niche fashion market'. Find out what this term means, and carry out research to identify other examples
  • The 1926 bra above was designed to accommodate the 'flapper' style. What other time periods since the 1940s have had their own special fashions or style trends?
  • How has women's clothing in general changed since 1884? Why?
  • Look at the images of 1950s lingerie production and read through the information in the download versions. Find out how high-end lingerie is manufactured today and describe the main differences and similarities between then and now
  • Design a range of underwear inspired by the styles and fabrics of the past and present your creations in a similar format to this 1960s corsetry article

Local History and Reminiscence Groups

  • How would you describe the main differences between underwear today and that of the past?
  • Find some old photographs that show different styles of clothing and look at them with your group (or friends and relatives). Share any memories that the photos trigger, particularly about the underwear that would have been worn with each style
  • What were the best and worst things about both the underwear items of the past and the ones you can buy today?
  • Look at the photos of underwear from other periods in time and discuss what the other people in your group (or friends and relatives) remember about each period
  • See also the M&S Wartime Utility Clothing resources for more opportunities to talk about fashions of the past.