Lisa Jardine ponders the effect of recession on the lingerie industry … both today and in Tudor times.

BBC, A Point of View: "The neck frill grew oversized, into the elaborate, face-framing ruffs which for many of us define late Tudor dress, as it features in any number of formal portraits of royalty and nobility. Starching these became a laundry skill in its own right - the very first specialist ruff-launderer in England is supposed to have been a Flemish woman, Mistress Dingen Van der Passe, who brought Dutch-standard starching to London in 1564. Detached ruffs and decorative cuffs were securely attached to the outer garments for each wearing, using metal pins. It has been suggested that in economic terms, these pins are the first genuinely disposable commodities of emerging consumer culture, since they were bought in bulk, used once and then discarded (though there are records of the more frugal having their bent pins straightened for re-use). Even without integral layered and embroidered neck-frills and cuffs, the amount of coloured embroidery on the upper part of shirt and smock continued to grow, transforming the simple undergarment into an object of beauty in its own right." Full text at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7689554.stm.