Look what I found in an op shop this morning! And it cost me the princely sum of fifty cents.
This picture is one of a series of designs for the 1970s career woman. Armed with newly minted equal pay and anti-discrimination legislation, she's about to step out of the typing pool and into the boardroom...
(But note the impractical shoes she's still wearing!)
This period has become known as the "Mad Men" era from the TV show of the same name, but it was a favourite of mine long before the series debuted. This giant catalogue is packed full of delicious fashions - pretty clothes for the young, and more elegant attire for the older and more sophisticated. It's a real treat to browse!
Everyone "knows" what was fashionable in the 1920s - and actually, most people are about half right.
The low-waisted, pared-down look popularly associated with the twenties was fashionable in the second half of the decade. As you can see from this illustration the look at the beginning of the 1920s was slightly fussier and more feminine. These dresses for dancing are decorated with extra material gathered into side panels and flounces. The look was still very daring for its time, though - a mere decade before women had been swathed in floor-length skirts over multiple petticoats and tightly laced corsets!
Incidentally, F. Scott Fitzgerald was first published in 1920. His early flapper heroines would have worn frocks very like this as they jazzed around the dance floor.
"When He Comes Home ... This frock will whisper that you're still the one girl in the world - as far as he's concerned! Just as feminine as he remembers you, this frock is the one you'll choose for 'that rendezvous' - and for all the ones that follow!"
1945, and the end of the Second World War - but clothes and material to make clothes were still in desperately short supply and would be for some years as far as Britain and the rest of Europe were concerned. This little pattern catalogue published in London is therefore as full of ideas to renovate one's tired old clothes as to sew new ones - "Look over your wardrobe ... Make do to make NEW!"
Probably few of them turned out as well as the illustrations.
The 1930s was the decade when the convention of floor-length dresses for formal or evening wear was established. Though this example has a low neckline it also has covered shoulders, indicating it was probably intended for dining or theatre-going rather than dancing.
In spite of this magazine's name it is related neither to the Vanity Fair published in New York in the 1920s, nor to the modern magazine with the same title. This Vanity Fair was published in Britain during the fifties, and it offered the the latest news on fashions (and where to buy them) as well as beauty hints and lifestyle advice.
David Jones was and is an upmarket department store in Australia.
These dresses from the beginning of the sixties still have a look of the previous decade. The catalogue describes them as "THE GINGHAM LOOK. So new this summer. In American Broadcloth iced with heavy white flocked embroidery on hem and bodice. Drip-dry, minimum iron ... 99'11."
A Sylish Silk Suit and a Handsome Visiting Gown. - A very dainty and pretty walking suit, suitable for summer or early fall wear... A very pretty visiting, afternoon, reception or gown for ordinary dressy wear throughout the summer is here shown.
Though blue denim was almost ubiquitous among the under-thirty age group in the seventies it very rarely featured in (let alone on the covers of!) the fashion magazines of the time. This issue of Nova is one of the exceptions to that rule. Here is the blue jean in all its tightly-fitting, faded seventies glory.
Here's another fashion magazine intended for home dressmakers from the interwar years. Roma's was a British publication, but this copy was printed for distribution overseas. The clue is in the cover date - which is a month later than the date published inside the magazine. The publishers wanted Roma's Pictorial Fashions to look fresh and new when it hit the shelves, so they allowed for time for it to reach its destination!
In the first half of the twentieth century most women knew how to sew their own clothes and lot of little fashion magazines like this sprang up to cater to home dressmakers. They usually contained advice on how to dress fashionably on a limited income, beauty tips, and of course, pictures of sewing patterns available to buy from the publisher.
As the century wore on and people became more prosperous these little magazines started to die out. Frugality became less of an issue for many and the quality of ready-to-wear clothing improved so it became easier for women to buy their clothes than make them. While the major pattern publishers still exist the smaller manufacturers fell by the wayside. Fashion magazines became concerned with things you could consume rather than things you could make.
Here we have the British edition of Vogue Pattern Book for June-July 1955, with a quintessentially fifties model on the cover. She looks very fresh and cool in her summer dress - not to mention lady-like with her co-ordinating hat and gloves!