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Trouser suit - Surprise Packet

Surprise Packet

  • Object:

    Trouser suit

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1966 (designed)
    1973 (made)
    1973 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Quant, Mary, born 1930 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wool , metal zips

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mary Quant

  • Museum number:

    T.111 to B-1976

  • Gallery location:

    On short term loan out for exhibition []

Mary Quant’s first boutique, Bazaar, opened in London's King's Road in 1955, launching a successful fashion career. Her youthful easy-to-wear clothing became so popular that in 1963, she launched a lower-priced ready-to-wear range called 'Ginger Group'. She also entered into licensing agreements with manufacturers to produce hosiery, underwear, cosmetics and accessories bearing her name. Almost anyone, whatever their income, could spare the money to buy a pair of 'Mary Quant' stockings or a lipstick. This enabled girls who could not otherwise afford her clothing to feel in touch with fashion, and made Mary Quant into a household name and a commercial success.

Her contribution to British life was marked by a retrospective exhibition at the London Museum in 1973. The exhibition included many of Quant's most revolutionary garments, some remade as facsimiles if original ones could not be found. This 1966 cream and navy wool trouser-suit was one of the outfits remade. It looks remarkably like a modern tracksuit, and was based on sports and utility wear.

Physical description

Cream wool jacket and trousers. Inset navy bands around thighs and armholes. Collarless jacket with rounded neck, zipper front, sleeves bloused slightly into cuffs. Welt pockets outlined in navy at hips and at knees on trousers, zipper access with large O ring pulls. Ankle cuffs on trousers.

Navy wool beret

Place of Origin

London (made)


1966 (designed)
1973 (made)
1973 (made)


Quant, Mary, born 1930 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Wool , metal zips

Object history note

This cream and navy wool jumpsuit looks very like a modern tracksuit and is based on sports and utility wear.

Much of Quant's clothing was designed to be 'mix and match', a new concept for an era of ready-to-wear clothing. In her book Quant on Quant, the designer gives the following advice:

'Every girl should go for separates. She should think of each piece as a part of a jigsaw, then build up a comprehensive fashion picture. I would suggest a wardrobe in miniature like this. Take a pinafore dress, a jacket, skirt, sweater and pants that all go happily together and you have umpteen outfits...Fashion should be a game and it is fun to work out for yourself the different ways of wearing the different garments.'

Descriptive line

Trouser suit 'Surprise Packet'. Quant, Mary. 1966, remade 1973. White wool with navy bands & zippers.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Featured in Vogue, 15 October 1966, photographs by David Bailey.

V&A: NCOL.448-2018

Carter, Ernestine. Mary Quant's London, London Museum, 1973

Labels and date

[Mary Quant exhibition, 2019]


Vogue fashion editor Marit Allen included this tracksuit in her ‘Young Idea’ pages, the first time such an outfit had become part of high fashion. She described the look as ‘lighter than light’ although, at 25 guineas, it wasn’t cheap. It shows Quant’s advanced ideas, anticipating the dominance of sportswear as fashion 50 years later.

‘Surprise Packet’ Bonded wool jersey Labelled ‘Mary Quant’
Made in the Mary Quant sample workroom for the 1973 exhibition, Mary Quant’s London
Given by Mary Quant
V&A: T.111&A-1976 [30/03/2020]

Production Note

Remade 1973

Attribution note: Remade for 1973 retrospective
Reason For Production: Retail
Reason For Production: Exhibition


Wool; Metal


Fashion; Clothing; Day wear; Sport; Europeana Fashion Project

Production Type



Textiles and Fashion Collection

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