Category Archives: 1930s

Tobé Coller Davis–the First Lady of Fashion Forecasting

If you read about the history of the American garment industry, it doesn’t take long to come across the name Tobé Coller Davis (1888-1962).  After a varied career in clothing companies and department stores, she opened a fashion forecasting company … Continue reading

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California Beach Party, 1933

This looks like a fun party.  Even though it was 1933, and alcohol was still officially banned in the US, note the wine bottle in the background and the cups raised high.  The setting is Half Moon Bay, California, on … Continue reading

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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

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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

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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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