Everyday Fashions of the Fifties

Everyday Fashions of the Fifties as Pictured in Sears Catalogs

For the final installment in our catalogue book series, we are examining the pages of the era that is probably best known when people think about retro fashion: the 1950s.

When 50s fashion is mentioned, most will think of pin-up styles, sexy tops and pencil skirts, victory roll hairdos and big circle skirts. And greasers à la James Dean and Mutt Williams.

Or skirts with poodle appliqués and cute little cardigans, in soft pinks and whites and pastels of movies such as Grease.

If that is your view of the 50s, and you were hoping to find page after page of the such styles, you might find this book well, a little disappointing, because it will set you straight in no time.

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Everyday Fashions of the 1940s

Everyday Fashions of the Forties as Pictured in Sears Catalogs

If you have studied the pages of the volumes of previous decades in this series, you will find that this book is the least varied. That is because the 1940s were pretty fashion-stable. There were changes in the silhouette for both men and women during the period, but nothing like the dramatic shifts of 20s and 30s.

Nonetheless, if you are into World War II-era fashion, this is definitely a visual companion worth adding to your collection.

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Everyday Fashions of the 1930s

Everyday Fashions of the Thirties as Pictured in Sears Catalogs

Everyday Fashions of the Thirties deserves its own review by merit of the decade’s sheer diversity in styles.

Where the 1930s start out looking very much like the 1920s, you can spy the beginning of that typical 1930s silhouette in the early years. This book really shows how, year by year, the fashion gradually stepped away from the flapper days of the Roaring Twenties and toward the defining look of the 30s.

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Everyday Fashions, 1909-1920s

Everyday Fashions, 1909-1920, as Pictured in Sears Catalogs

Next in our series of catalogue book reviews is not one but two books, covering the Jazz Age.

First up: Sears of the late steam and early diesel eras, during which fashion evolved from late Edwardian and Art Nouveau era into flapper styles and Art Deco.

It’s pretty amazing to see how these styles evolved fairly rapidly and then stuck to that typical 1920s silhouette for quite some time.

This book gives you a wide perspective of the evolution into typical Jazz Age fashions, which is great if you want a nuanced look at the sartorial evolution or an era-specific outfit.

The book contains styles for different body types (although not as many as it should, in my opinion) as well as a variety of children’s, women’s and men’s clothing.

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Decades of Hats

Decades of Hats

As the title suggests, this catalogue book is all about hats. Collecting hat ads from the 1900s to the 1970s, it is a marvelous display of the evolution of headwear through the years.

Sadly, as is too often the case with books like these, all pages are in black and white, denying us the color stories behind the designs.

Even in grayscale, the book is pretty amazing if you’re into hats and want to know more which piece was appropriate for which period.

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Catalogue Books: What We Will (And Won’t) Learn from Them

This is a companion piece to my series of catalogue book reviews for those wondering which book will suit them best and whether or not it’s something they want to start with.

Now, what is to be taken away from these tomes that give us a visual glimpse in sartorial evolution from 1909 to 1959? Other than how fashion has evolved from the steam into the diesel and atomic eras?

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Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns: A Complete Lady’s Wardrobe

Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns: A Complete Lady's Wardrobe

In my review of Patterns of Fashion 2, I mentioned that there are alternatives to that work. This is one of them. Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns (1999) has all the garments a lady living in Victorian-era America was supposed to own. Plenty are geared toward the upper-class woman, but the books contains patterns for a variety of outfits.

All the patterns are reproductions from a dressmaker’s journal called The Voice of Fashion. (Of which this is not the only reproduction, but I digress.)

Personally, I find these patterns much easier to work with than those in Patterns of Fashion 2. Not only are we provided with a short introduction shedding light onto the cost of an American lady’s wardrobe, and what should be in it according to polite society at the time; the methods needed to turn these patterns into a garment that fits your body are pretty well explained.

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Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomen’s Dresses and Their Construction c. 1860-1940

Patterns of Fashion 2

To those who habitually sew historical garments, the Patterns of Fashion series is probably nothing new. To those who don’t: Patterns of Fashions is a series often referred to by costubers, especially those working recreating garments from the past century and before.

Do they live up to the hype?

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