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 sixties make older women embarrassed to ask for clothing designed their demographic? Was the company sensitive to the word “lady,” a term coming under scrutiny by the burgeoning women’s movement?
Whatever the reason, Sears rebranded its clothing line for the older set one last time in 1971. The time, however, it was called the “Gracious Woman.” The Spring 1971 catalog featured fifteen pages devoted to dresses, suits, and sportswear for this imagined customer.
The Gracious Woman wore conservative styles available in larger sizes. While younger customers could choose from a smorgasbord of pants and shorts in many fabrics, the Gracious Woman was offered three polyester slack styles with matching tops and one pair of Bermuda shorts. Younger women got mini, midi, and maxi skirts; the Gracious Woman’s styles hovered around the knee. Fashion forward looks, like long granny dresses, were not part of the Gracious Woman’s wardrobe. She sometimes wore hats, while her daughters never did. On the other hand, the Gracious Lady had many choices in slips and girdles.
Perhaps the response was disappointing, since the Fall catalog only offered a small spread for the Gracious Lady, one page of coats and another with some serious looking shape wear. From this point on, the older Sears customer with conservative tastes no longer had her own catalog pages. She would have to find her clothing on her own.