Category Archives: 1930s

The Evolution of the Slacks Suit in Montgomery Ward Catalogs

What exactly is a “slacks suit”?  It isn’t quite what we mean by a pantsuit these days, a matching pair of pants and jacket with the versatility of a man’s suit. In the 1930s, when the term emerged as a … Continue reading

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Philosophy of Dress

Feminist philosopher Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935), suffragist, novelist, and economist, spent a lot of her life thinking about clothes.  She considered herself a dress reformer, but was not interested in the extremes of bloomers or pants.  Instead, she followed her … Continue reading

Posted in 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, Pre 1900 | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Does this Hat Make my Head Look Big?

Staring in 1900, almost every Montgomery Ward catalog I paged through offered hats designed specifically for older women.  At first I noticed only the random hat, when words like “mature” or “elderly” caught my eye.  But by the 1910s catalogs … Continue reading

Posted in 1920s, 1930s, 1940s | Tagged | 4 Comments

Pajama Party

Two of my favorite blogs, The Vintage Traveler and Witness2fashion, have been investigating the pajama craze in the 1920s recently. I thought it would be interesting to examine the record in the world of down market catalogs The fashion forward woman … Continue reading

Posted in 1920s, 1930s | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Half Sizes Part 5: The Record in Montgomery Ward Catalogs

I’ve long been fascinated by the category of “half-sizes,” a term now associated with clothing for shorter and wider women.  But until the US government issued standardized sizing guidelines in the 1950s, the term “half size” could mean just about … Continue reading

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The Woman in the Marx Brothers’ Movies

Part of the fun of Marx Brothers’ films is Groucho’s sarcastic ribbing with a rich dowager figure, a joke-filled interaction that reappears in seven films, including the classics Duck Soup, A Night at the Opera, and A Day at the … Continue reading

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For the Love of Circles, 1939

I’ve just returned from a trip to Laramie Wyoming, where I spent a week looking through Montgomery Ward catalogs at the American Heritage Center.  Not everyone would call that a fun vacation, but I do!  You will see results from … Continue reading

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Gertrude Atherton’s Fountain of Youth

What lengths would you go to in order to stay young?  In 1922, the then famous California novelist Gertrude Atherton (1857-1948) underwent an experimental x-ray treatment to her ovaries that was believed to stimulate estrogen production.  She pronounced the process … Continue reading

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When did you get that hat? My guess—ca. 1938

If ever there was a time for wild hats, it was the late 1930s.  Life magazine even did a special spread on hat madness in late 1937 called “Anything Goes as a Hat for a Woman.” It featured gloves, huge … Continue reading

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The Height of Chic—Sewing Patterns for Older Women, 1938

While leafing through the 16 page brochure, Butterick Fashion News from April 1938, I knew right away that this page was dedicated to patterns for older women.  What were the clues? First of all, the drawings were different.  While other … Continue reading

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