You might know my love of Mrs. Exeter, Vogue magazine’s effort to reach out to the older woman in the years after World War Two. She appeared in many places, including the fashion magazine, the Vogue Pattern Book magazine, and also as a special tab in Vogue Patterns counter books as an elegant euphemism for “women’s sizes.”
The Youth Quake brought an end to this older woman, but she didn’t die all at once. Once Diana Vreeland took over Vogue magazine in 1962, Mrs. Exeter quickly disappeared from its pages. After all, Vreeland famously called real fashion the domain of the young.
However, Mrs. Exeter had a longer life in Vogue Patterns, which was bought by the Butterick Company in 1962. Her special tab in Vogue Patterns counter books, those big volumes in fabric stores, continued until 1967. Looking carefully (I thought) through old issues of Vogue Pattern Book, now housed at the McCalls Company in New York, I thought that the last reference to her there was in 1962.
Well, it is time to eat my words. I just bought a set of Vogue Pattern Book magazines from the 1960s, and there was Mrs. Exeter, big as life, in an issue from summer 1965 modeling women’s sizes 12 to 42 (bust sizes 32” to 44”). How did I miss her? Did I stop looking too soon?
You might know that Vogue Pattern Magazine (once Vogue Pattern Book) has just stopped publication. I think we should urge McCalls to put out an entire run of the magazine on searchable CDs for sale. It would be a boon to fashion historians everywhere. And then I could track down every last reference to Mrs. Exeter.