Tag Archives: terminology

Considering the Matron

You don’t see the word matron much anymore, but it was an important term of reference in fashion writing in the early twentieth century.  Since I’m fascinated by synonyms (and euphemisms) for “old,” I used the search engines for women’s … Continue reading

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Elderly, Matronly, or Mature? Montgomery Ward Experiments with Names

In 1912, the Montgomery Ward catalog went through a major revision that favored women clothing buyers.  Before that year, women’s clothing was scattered throughout the catalog; you had to look through the index to find everything offered to female consumers.  … Continue reading

Posted in 1910s | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Gracious Woman from Sears, 1971

According to the Sears catalog offerings available on Ancestry.com, the Gracious Lady line of clothing that had been sold since 1936 died a quiet death in 1967. What happened to bring about this demise? Did the youth cult of the … Continue reading

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Outfitting the Gracious Lady

When Sears introduced the “Gracious Lady,” its distinctive name for the older female market, it was not venturing into new territory. Before 1936 the company had already developed goods designed for the older set, using terms like “mature women” and … Continue reading

Posted in 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s | Tagged , | 3 Comments

The Gracious Lady from Sears

A key item on my research wish list was to find a searchable version of the entire Sears catalog on line. And now I have, for a price. The extensive website Ancestry.com, used by genealogists everywhere, has just acquired a … Continue reading

Posted in 1930s | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Slimming Cottons for the More Mature Figure, 1957

What do older women want to be called?  Advertisers, designers, and writers have grappled with this problem for a long time, as I discussed here and the expert patternmaker Kathleen Fasanella has examined at length.  In 1957 the Bella Hess … Continue reading

Posted in 1950s | Tagged , | 1 Comment

The “Gracious Lady” from the Sears Catalog

Catalog companies had to use care when marketing to older women.  Retailers wanted to make it clear that they had considered the wants and needs of the older population, while at the same time avoiding the dreaded word “old.”   I … Continue reading

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What’s in a Name? Marketing to the Older Woman

How can designers and retailers reach older women consumers without offending them? This is just as much a problem today as it was in the early twentieth century. The pattern-maker, manufacturer, and fashion historian Kathleen Fasanella traces the current controversy … Continue reading

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Clothing for Mature Women, 1916

When retailers try to reach the specialized market of older women, they face a difficult problem: just what should they call their target audience?  In early twentieth century catalogs I have come across several different labels, including “conservative women,” “middle … Continue reading

Posted in 1910s | Tagged , | 2 Comments