When I was a kid, I loved looking through the Sears catalogue. It seemed as big as a telephone book. I haven’t seen a Sears catalogue in years but I still have memories of leafing through the pages and folding the corners to bookmark the things I wanted.
When my friend Lynn sent me these images of the 1934 Wards Christmas catalogue, I knew I had to share them. I felt like a time-traveler, going back to a time when my grandparents were kids.
A few things jumped out at me in this first page. There’s a lot of text (way more reading than you’d see now), it’s sepia, it’s written in first person, and the prices: $1.77 for a pair of shoes! The copy promotes the benefits of buying summer out of season and saving money by ordering by mail. Two timely tips even for today.
Here’s a reason why I love clothes from all eras. There’s nothing on this page I wouldn’t wear. Look at that gorgeous blue polka-dotted dress on the right? It’s only $2.77. And real silk stockings for fifty-five cents! What a deal. Well, maybe not during the Great Depression, when this catalogue came out.
One dollar for a girdle? No thanks! A deal isn’t a deal if you don’t wear it. And these look uncomfortable. Sure Spanx and other shapewear are modern-day girdles, but they’re probably a lot more manageable than these. Still, nothing beats the exercise.
Speaking of exercise, these clothes are advertised as sportswear. I love the sailor pants, but for the beach? That’s what the copy states: “Worn first in Hollywood, now all the rage for beach and all summer sports.” Okay, some things do change over time. The plaid playsuit is darling though. I want one!
More shoes! I love the low heel and cute laces. It’s funny that these are considered “walking shoes.” Today, it’s cross trainers for comfort (well, unless you’re me. Then it’s ballet flats–I have an aversion to sneakers). The Oxfords at the bottom have a higher heel than the ones I see today–adorable.
Today it costs more to get a shirt dry cleaned than these shirts cost to buy.
These days, I shop online and bookmark the website I plan to return to, but the general concept is still the same–except I can’t find a decent pair of shoes for seventy-seven cents!