The 1920s is probably the decade most clouded in misconceptions about how its fashion actually looked. We all know those big cliché feather headbands, turban-style hats and rather short tassel dresses. But if you’re interested in an accurate representation of the entire decade, there is this fun reproduction catalogue book showing reprinted pages from B. Altman and Company catalogues of the Roaring Twenties.
These books are great, because they are so varied. They focus not only on women’s wear, but also men’s wear and children’s fashion. On top of that, they offer a very wide variety of accessories, garments and shoes. (I have said it before and I will say it again: if you are into a lot of different midcentury fashion styles, you can’t go wrong with a good pair of saddle shoes!) Not just for daily wear, but also evening- and sportswear.
I find catalogues like these incredibly helpful, because they show the fashions as they actually were rather than what we see on TV. Because, let’s be honest, shows like Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, where historically accurate fashion is shown, are an exception rather than the norm.
It also provides a lot of inspiration if you are looking to make your own 1920s outfit but aren’t here for the standard fare you find in vintage-style shops.
To top that off, these books are also very useful for model drawing practice, as you can learn a lot from the poses and the way these images were drawn back in the day. They can even help you develop your own artistic style.
I really enjoy these vintage catalogue books, for all the reasons mentioned above, and if you’re interested in 1920s fashion, I can’t recommend this one enough!
I have a flip-through of the book on my YouTube channel, which you can watch here or below.
Should you want to have a look at other catalogues, also from different eras, The Closet Historian has a whole YouTube playlist full of actual vintage catalogues, so check that out!