Eat My Words

Vogue Pattern Book, June/July 1965

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.

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5 Responses to Eat My Words

  1. Penelope says:

    She was axed from British Vogue at about the same time. Ailsa Garland took over as editor in 1960 and proudly claimed that she killed Mrs Exeter. However editorials headed ‘Clothes with no age tag’ continued to show older models, including Margot Smyly, the most recognizable Mrs Exeter.British Vogue Pattern Book also continued Mrs E well into the 60s.

  2. Katrina B says:

    What a find! I’m not usually a fan of 60s styles but the coat of V6384 has really beautiful lines. Trust Mrs. Exeter to look elegant no matter what year it is.

    Even though I only subscribed intermittently to Vogue Pattern Magazine over the years, I am still sad that they have ended their run. I still have all of the issues from my subscriptions and refer to them occasionally for the expert techniques. Your idea of having digital access to every issue is an excellent one.

  3. Susan says:

    How do we campaign for those Vogue Pattern Book CDs? Or extended online availability? I’m in. (Conde Nast is very protective of its copyrights, but this might make them some money….) I have to access old Vogue magazines through my public library, since the subscription fee is hefty. Maybe libraries would also subscribe to more Vogue publications….

  4. Susa says:

    It’s a shock to see 6251 (the red dress) was from 1965 and for Mrs. Exeter — I’m pretty sure I wore that one as late as 1970 — cowl neck, inseam pockets, made in red linen by my aunt’s friend/dressmaker — it was a gift, but I chose the pattern and material! (I was 25 then.)

  5. Black Tulip says:

    Interesting, I didn’t realise that Mrs Exter had survived for quite that long in Vogue Pattern Book.

    The British magazine Sew Today, which includes all the other pattern brands as well as Vogue, is still being published – but as it got much of its editorial content from its US sister publication, I’m not sure how long it will continue.

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