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