Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by M&S Company Archive.

This resource is one of four M&S timelines intended to provide a broad picture of the development of different M&S products, using selected images from the M&S Company Archive collection. The overall aim of the M&S Menswear Timeline resource is to show changes in men's clothing throughout the history of the Company, and how this might link to social history and world events.

Curriculum Links

KS2/3 Design & Technology:

  • design and make your own clothing
  • designing for markets
  • developing new ideas
  • selecting materials
KS2/3 Art & Design: fashion design / textiles (surface pattern)
KS2 History: clothing of the past

Learning Objectives

  • Knowledge of developments in men's high street fashion over the last 100 years
  • Understanding of how high street retailers match their products to fulfill customers' needs in line with new trends
  • Skills of identifying popular fashion trends and developments over several decades

Discussion ideas

(see Supporting Links in Resources for further information to help with these topics)

  • What style of clothes do you like to wear? 
  • What is most important when deciding what clothes to buy - what they look like or what they are made of?
  • Who are your favourite fashion designers or brands and why do you like them?
  • Why did M&S decide to develop a 'sustainable suit'?
  • What items of men's or boys' clothing on sale now do you think are the most popular? How do you think this has changed since M&S first started selling men's clothes in the 1920s?
  • Why do you think man-made fabrics were so popular after the Second World War?

Activity Ideas

(see Supporting Links in Resources for further information to help with these topics)

  • Find out what the most common fabrics are for making men's clothing that is sold in the UK. List the main properties of each different fabric and whether they would be more suitable for making sportswear or evening wear, giving reasons for your choices.
  • Do some research to find out as many different 'label names' for men's or boy's clothing as you can, then work out why the name was chosen - what does it say about the clothes? which age range is it aiming at? 
  • Think of a label name for a new style of men's or boys' clothing, then design a window display promoting the new line, showing two or three different items from the range. 
  • Design a tracksuit for a sports team of your choice and create a mood board that shows the main style features and colours, and also the materials to be used (the Supporting Links might help)
  • Design a set of clothes for the next Olympic team. First look at the PPT about materials (see Resources) and choose three sports to design, for instance ski wear, swim wear, football kit. Draw the design and annotate it with choices of fabric and reasons for choosing them. The whole class could look at all the sports represented at the Olympics Games today and divide them up so that each sport has a new set of clothes designed. 
  • This resource could also be used as a starting point to looking at fashion over the years. Using the PPT as a stimulus, pupils could then collect their own images of men’s clothing through the decades and even produce their own timeline of clothes.

    Pupils could also research how clothes for boys/school children have changed over the same decades, i.e. what did pupils wear to school in the 1920s and 30s? How did the introduction of man-made fabrics help in the 1950s? and produce a PPT of school clothes/children’s wear over the same decades.

Further KS2 activity ideas for pupils using the Menswear Timeline PPT:


  • Give the main change/innovation for each decade shown in the PPT in a single sentence.
  • List the changes in order of importance.
  • Select the three most important changes/innovations and give reasons to justify choices
  • Select one change/innovation and write an advertisement/ persuasive poster suitable for that period.
  • Speaking and Listening – pupils could write scripts for performing news bulletins to announce some of the changes, for example a local news bulletin to announce the arrival of suits which can be washed in the washer. The script could also include e.g. interviews with men and women who will be able to wash suits and go; dry cleaners worried about going out of business; a scientist who developed the technology etc.