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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? 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.
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.
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:
A British high street icon for slips, petticoats, nightdresses and what would now be affectionately known as 'granny underwear'. 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 '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.
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.
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.
Fashion in the 1960s thrived at Marks & Spencer.
A 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:
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. 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. 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.
1950s fashion. An ad for beautiful Marks and Spencer lingerie, sold under the St.Michael brand.
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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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