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Marks and Spencer Underwear and Knickers as a Souvenir? Follow the lead of Posh Brits!

Underwear– yes underwear (or knickers in Brit speak)– from Marks and Spencer makes a great (and inexpensive) souvenir to bring home from the UK.

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Marks and spencer men's undershirts

Knickers, underwear, bras, panties, thongs, skivvies– if you found this post via a google search for any of these words, you might be disappointed to learn it’s completely G rated and safe to view at work.

Think about it– underwear is the ultimate utilitarian souvenir.  Most people wear underwear on a daily basis, making it an item that benefits from frequent replenishing.  Also, there is nothing worse than shoddily made, ill-fitting underwear, so why not buy high quality knickers at a bargain price, just like the locals do.

Follow the lead of Posh Brits and get your knickers at Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer is a popular British retailer, sort of a cross between a JC Penny and a Macy’s in terms of style– but higher in quality. I first learned of Marks and Spencer’s reputation for quality underwear while reading Watching the English, the Hidden Rules of English Behavior, Kate Fox’s great read on the unwritten rules of the still-lingering British class system.

Fox divvies up British classes into three main groups– the uppers, the middles and the working class– with further sub groups within those groups.  According to Fox certain “tells” can out you as working class– like calling a napkin a “serviette” or referring to lunch as dinner.  Also supposedly determinative of your social standing is what Fox calls the “Marks and Spencer test”.  Fox claims that while lowers and middles shop at Marks and Spencer for general clothing and furniture, the more posh uppers only deign to buy their underwear there.

True or not, Fox’s claims intrigued me enough to pay my first visit to Marks and Spencer to see why there was such a fuss over the underwear.  It turns out the posh folks know a good value after all– after years of bringing back Marks and Spencer camisoles, tights, socks and tees, I can confirm firsthand that the quality and prices are excellent.

Marks and Spencer sells underwear for both men and women. In the men’s section, you can find well made undershirts in many styles, as well as boxers and the popular “hipster trunk” style modelled after Daniel Craig’s swimsuit in Casino Royale.

marks and spencer bra and panties setIn the women’s section, you’ll find all the basics, well-cut and suitable for everyday wear.

marks and spencer camisoles camisI always stock up on camisoles– at 2 for £8 they are a steal, hold their shape and don’t wear out.  I’ve had mine for years.

More recently, Marks and Spencer has expanded its women’s line beyond comfy and utilitarian to a more racy S&M style with its Autograph Floral collection.

Some tips for souvenir shopping Marks and Spencer Knickers:

  • Sizes are much smaller than typical US vanity sizes.  Even if you’re used to grabbing the smallest US size on the rack, I wouldn’t recommend doing so here– try it on first.
  • Fitting rooms are relatively spacious and the sales people are helpful.
  • Socks, tights and plain t-shirts are also a good buy.

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London Souvenir Shopping Details:
Marks and Spencer (over 700 locations in the UK)
I hit one of the larger stores on London’s Regent Street with a larger selection.

Want to read more London posts?  Start here:
Why this New Yorker loves the London Underground (and my picks from the London Transport Museum Shop)
A walk through the Harry Potter gift shop at Platform 9 3/4, London

Fashion Forward Brits Declare Love for the Onesie– Not just for Babies
Big Ben, the British Flag and a Telephone Box:  Why we love British Kitsch
I got it at Primani, dahling.  Why frugal tourists love London’s Primark.

All photos by Souvenir Finder, Copyright 2014, all rights reserved and may not be reused without express permission.

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6 Responses to Marks and Spencer Underwear and Knickers as a Souvenir? Follow the lead of Posh Brits!

  1. sueslaght 01/05/2014 at 2:44 pm #

    Kristen the question becomes is I appropriate to bring underwear home for others as a gift? Hmmmm. I’m still yearning for the magic wand from the Harry Potter store in London you wrote about.

    • Kristin Francis 01/05/2014 at 2:55 pm #

      haha I guess that would depend! Personally, I’d bring tights back for close friends but that would be about it. : )

  2. Amy 01/07/2014 at 12:57 pm #

    This is a fun idea! I love buying clothes overseas but have not yet bought underwear 🙂

    • Kristin Francis 01/07/2014 at 4:52 pm #

      Haha actually Italy has gorgeous stuff for less pedestrian options. But for the basics M&S is awesome.

  3. The Guy 03/07/2014 at 2:14 pm #

    Yes, us Brits love our M+S. Rather than a treat it can be standard fayre for many.

    I also love to explore M+S stores when I’m outside the UK to see how they compare on price and range to the UK.

    Also good point made about the size differences between the UK/US/Europe, it can be very confusing.

    Little tip though, don’t bring any M+S clothing to a lot of the Arab Middle East countries. When I was based in Saudi Arabia I was warned not to bring any M+S stuff in due to its connections with Jews.

    • Kristin Francis 03/07/2014 at 2:19 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Good point about sizing– especially as compared to the US where there is so much vanity sizing so even if you do the conversion, the size might still be off.
      What a strange thing re: M&S and Middle Eastern countries. I wonder what else they look out for.

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