The Difference Between British and American Lingerie
If you're a British woman, there's a very good chance that you buy the bulk of your lingerie from mega-retailer Marks & Spencer. In fact, the company is a market leader in the UK, holding a whopping 36% market share in bras (it sells over 21 million bras and 60 million pairs of underwear per year!), and it has a longstanding partnership with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
I recently had the opportunity to travel to London, see the brand's new spring collection firsthand, and find out all there is to know about British lingerie trends from Soozie Jenkinson, head of design for lingerie, activewear, and swimwear for Marks & Spencer.
After reading my fellow editor Lauren's story last year about the difference between Italian and American lingerie, I was looking forward to getting Jenkinson's take on how British and American lingerie styles and trends differ, among other things. Keep reading for her insight and to shop the British and American versions of 10 popular lingerie styles. (And lucky for us, Marks & Spencer now ships to the U.S.)
How would you describe a British woman's lingerie collection and how does that differ from an American's lingerie collection?
British fashion is renowned for being eclectic, experimental, and often quirky in the way we put looks together. This is often reflected in our lingerie drawers with a variety of colour, shapes, and mix-and-match styles from luxe silky looks to multi-way bras and favourite, comfortable everyday knickers bought conveniently in multiple packs.
In terms of style, we look to our American cousins as women who have taken the trend of athleisure and comfort to their hearts and reflect this in their lingerie drawers with seam-free knickers and smoothing T-shirt bras being at the heart of their lingerie collection. At M&S, we have embraced designing beautiful DD to G cup bras as part of every collection we sell, so women with these cup sizes can get the same stylish look as a 34B, even our beautiful Rosie for Autograph silk lingerie. In the U.S., women often seek larger cup size bras from specialist brands or boutiques.
Are there any popular lingerie trends that British women refuse to wear?
In my experience, I’m delighted to say that British women are open to trying different styles of lingerie. Currently, wire-free and bralette styles are increasingly popular. Our design philosophy is to be as inclusive as we can be and that’s why all bra styles, including wire-free and bralettes, are designed up to a G cup so that as many women as possible can buy into the look and be confident that the styles will fit, support, and work for them.
The Brazilian knicker was a brand new knicker shape when we launched it over 10 years ago, and since then has become a high street phenomenon! It is now many women’s go-to knicker shape, we sold over six million Brazilian knickers last year! I’m excited to see the new Miami knicker, inspired by the bikinis I saw being worn on Miami beaches while on holiday there, launching this summer, a first-to-market shape that I’m sure will again become a new customer favourite. You may not know that we sell over 60 million pairs of knickers a year, that’s more than 110 pairs every minute. I always encourage women to be brave, play with new looks, and create your own individual lingerie style.
What are the biggest lingerie trends for spring 2019?
For S/S 19, I’m excited about our new range of M&S Body lingerie. This modern underwear collection includes bras and bralettes, wired and wire-fee, smoothing T-shirt bras, high- and low-rise knickers, and camisoles, all designed with touches of innovative technology integrated into each piece. Textile trends have progressed recently to allow us as designers to use lighter fabrics and components to create soft, light, and modern underwear that still delivers great support and shape. This range includes key bra trends such as higher necklines, and no-VPL silhouettes in knickers. Cotton and natural fabrics are very on trend this summer, and we have blended style with science to launch our innovative Cool Comfort Cotton lingerie range, using beautifully pristine Supima cotton.
Marks & Spencer Rosie for Autograph Silk & Lace Underwired Balcony Bra ($45)
This pretty printed bra feels very English rose.
Marks & Spencer Rosie for Autograph Silk & Lace Set with Non-Padded Balcony Bra ($66)
The Brits are acutely aware that lingerie need not be dull.
Marks & Spencer Rosie for Autograph Satin Floral Print Wide Sleeve Dressing Gown ($57)
This print is almost too pretty to just wear indoors.
Marks & Spencer Rosie for Autograph Satin Hummingbird Print Nightdress ($41)
A quirky print feels authentically British.
Marks & Spencer Rosie for Autograph Secret Support Ribbed Strappy Chemise ($41)
This looks ridiculously soft, but not sloppy in the least.
This press trip was paid for by Marks & Spencer. Editor's opinions are her own.