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How to date your vintage Marks & Spencer lingerie - especially nylon slips, negligee sets, petticoats and knickers - with this St. Michael label dating resource. What could be more synonymous with vintage fashion than, say, Marks and Spencer vintage knickers? St.Michael high waisted knickers? But how can you find out when they were made? This page has lots of useful guides and information that can help you find out the true age of your vintage St.Michael garment.
Marks & Spencer dropped their famous St Michael clothing brand in the year 2000. Before that, the St Michael brand was famous for quality and choice and the different designs used for St Michael labels can give a guide to dating vintage Marks & Spencer clothing. Here is a helpful guide to dating your vintage St Michael garments using features of their labels. Marks and Spencer label codes are also explained here - a great identification tool. Have a look at the label styles outlined below decade by decade and compare them with your garment. If you know what to look for on each Marks & Spencer vintage label then you will be able to find out its approximate age.
As a vintage clothing aficionada with a special interest in mid-century British lingerie, I have had literally hundreds of St.Michael garments in my possession and their often timeless styles have made accurate dating difficult.
This helpful article uses the long experience I have gained over the years of knowing how to accurately date vintage Marks & Spencer's St.Michael brand clothing using their label styles as a guide. Over time, the style of each St.Michael label has changed to reflect the decade of manufacture of each garment. Sometimes a label style can only point to a particular decade. Other Marks and Spencer labels are specific to a certain year.
Based on my experience with St.Michael vintage clothing I have been able to write this detailed article which I hope will help you with your research.
Regards, Emma Benitez.
Q: When did Marks & Spencer stop using St Michael?
A: In the year 2000.
Q: But - guess what?
A: Marks & Spencer are now reviving their old St Michael brand
after 21 years!
How to date vintage St Michael labels - a short video guide.
Key St.Michael label dating features of the 1920's and 30's:
Marks & Spencer lingerie advertisement from 1932.
Key 1940's St.Michael label dating features:
For the long suffering British consumer during those dark war years and the austerity that came afterwards the St.Michael brand represented value and dependability at a time when it was needed most. Marks & Spencer's fortunes as a company suffered as a result of it's loyal contribution to the war effort. In 1944, Marks & Spencer's stock in trade fell to its lowest level since 1936 and full time staff fell from a pre-war level of 20,000 to just 9000 employees.
Fashion in the 1940s. A Marks & Spencer lingerie store counter in the 1940s.
Key 1950's St Michael vintage label dating features:
Fact: in 1955, Marks and Spencer sold three-tier deeply frilled can-can petticoats for 22s 11d.
A British high street icon for slips, petticoats, nightdresses and what would now be affectionately known as 'granny underwear' or 'old fashioned knickers'. By now the St.Michael brand name was fully established and all Marks & Spencer clothing products bore the name. Narrow waists were all the fashion and there was more interest in corsets as a result of this.
By 1954, Marks and Spencer offered no less than
27 different styles of nylon slip in their stores.
St Michael 'red label'. Much less common than their better known 'blue label' counterparts, labels stitched in red on a white background were used in the later years of the 1950's by Marks & Spencer and are a useful way of dating vintage undergarments with the familiar St.Michael 'script' logo.
Photo courtesy of Lori at Rarely Wears Lipstick.
By 1954, Marks and Spencer offered no less than 27 different styles of St Michael nylon slip in their stores. Nylon petticoats and slips were hugely important for women's fashions in the 1950s and Marks and Spencer offered a suitably large range to cater for the demand. St.Michael 1950s underwear was always manufactured in Britain.
Key 1960s Marks & Spencer vintage label dating features:
The best years for the St.Michael brand. The late 1950's and through the 1960's were the 'golden years', certainly for 50s fashion lingerie at least. Stores offered a fabulously wide range of classic lingerie that is fondly remembered to this day and Marks & Spencer was riding high on a wave of popularity with British shoppers. Old fashioned underwear it may be now, but back in those days Marks & Spencer were synonymous with lingerie, especially Marks and Spencer knickers and slips.
Fashion in the 1960s thrived at Marks & Spencer.
A Marks & Spencer St.Michael lingerie counter in 1966. Lots of vintage knickers and slips on sale.
Key Marks & Spencer vintage label dating features, plus how to understand Marks and Spencer 1970s fashion label codes:
Far from having old fashioned underwear, in the 1970's St.Michael brand lingerie was still going strong. More and more women were working and M&S was still the perfect place for underwear, especially for Marks and Spencer slips. New fabrics like Lycra were being used more and more in items like corsets.
Key 1980s vintage label dating features:
1980's: The turning point for a mature brand? Faced with increasing competition from the 'throwaway' culture of 1980s fashion, the St Michael brand had to change and adapt too. This was the age of Marks and Spencer front fastening bras. By the late 1980's, 38% of Mark & Spencer underwear was manufactured by Courtaulds (aka 'Britain's largest knicker-maker').
Article written by Emma Benitez. BA (Hons) in Fashion and Dress History, incurable vintage aficionado and owner of Nylon Nostalgia.
Emma is a fabric specialist for a lingerie manufacturer with operations in both Europe and Asia. She has also supplied fine vintage lingerie to media production companies, fashion designers and private collectors worldwide since 2009.
In this 1955 article, we look at how Marks & Spencer made their St.Michael brand lingerie, in this case nylon slips, showing each stage of manufacture and packaging. Standards of manufacture of all Marks and Spencer lingerie was set very high. At this time, Marks & Spencer had a strict 'buy British' policy involving very close relationships with their appointed UK lingerie manufacturers such as British Nylon Spinners (BNS), which gave consumers the impression - rightly or wrongly - that St.Michael lingerie made in Britain was made to a higher standard than overseas. St.Michael lingerie was certainly made to a very high standard and that high level of quality upheld the reputation of Marks and Spencer with shoppers throughout the years.
1950s underwear for 1950s fashion. An ad for beautiful Marks and Spencer lingerie, sold under the St.Michael brand.
Marks & Spencer have a fabulous company archive and exhibition in Leeds, certainly well worth a visit.
Click on the link below to find out more.
M&S Company Archive
Michael Marks Building
University of Leeds
Read this interesting recent Mail Online article about a revival of interest in St Michael clothing.
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