I’m so excited two weekends ago I went vintage shopping with my vintage shopping BFF in crime and stumbled upon this amazing find in the bottom of a glass case (yay for having eagle eyes). A very good condition 1942-43 Montgomery Ward Catalogue.
Some of you might be asking “what is Montgomery Ward“?
Montgomery Ward was created by “Aaron Montgomery Ward” in 1872 as the first every dry goods mail-order catalog business in Chicago Illinois. After several years of working as a traveling salesman among rural customers. He observed that rural customers often wanted “city” goods but their only access to them was through rural retailers who had little competition and offered no guarantee of quality. Ward also believed that by eliminating intermediaries, he could cut costs and make a wide variety of goods available to rural customers, who could purchase goods by mail and pick them up at the nearest train station (Wikipedia-Montgomery Ward).
Montgomery Ward Firsts and Highlights
The Slogan “satisfaction guaranteed or your money back”, Ward began using in 1875 (he created it).
In 1883, the company’s catalog, which became popularly known as the “Wish Book”, had grown to 240 pages and 10,000 items.
By 1904, the company had grown such that three million catalogs, weighing 4 pounds each, were mailed to customers.
1926 the first Retail store is opened.
1929 saw Montgomery Ward Double its stores to 531 across the United States.
In 1939, as part of a Christmas promotional campaign, staff copywriter Robert L. May created the character and illustrated poem of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Six million copies of the storybook were distributed in 1946. The song was popularized nationally by the actor and singer Gene Autry.
1950’s saw the store fall into its eventual downfall as the company was slow to respond to the general movement of the American middle class to suburbia. It’s competitors (like Sears) built stores where the customers where, Montgomery Ward chose to stay in City Centers and Main streets where the customers no longer shopped like they used too.
1985 the catalog portion of the business closes.
December 28th, 2000 Montgomery Ward makes the announcement that it will shut its doors for good.
Wow that is some history, terribly sad that the business ended up closing its doors in the end though 🙁
All that sad part aside, lets take a look at some of the pictures from the Catalogue shall we? (Note: You will be seeing more of this book in future posts as I plan to use it as reference for blog posts to come)
Look at those Victory Suits…beautiful!
Yes please I will take all the Velvet dresses and hats and jackets..how perfect would these be for the holiday season??
Look how handsome these boys are?? I wish my nephews dressed like this.
Look at the ruffles and the pinks and the flowers? WOW! my husband would kill me if I brought any of that into my home (and to be honest, I think it’s a bit too much for me too lol)
So there you have a sneak peek into my recent vintage purchase. Hope you enjoyed learning a bit about Montgomery Wards and browsing the pages of the catalog just like so many people did back in 1942-43.
I love saddle shoes, I always have and for a vintage loving gal of the 40s and 50s I think it’s important to have a pair in your closet. I do…of course (see below)
Many people when they think of saddle shoes they think of 1950s poodle skirts and Elvis and that is partially true but did you know that the shoes were originally created for athletic use? When? 1906! Yes the saddle shoe was around almost 50 years earlier than many people think.
Saddle shoes originated from an Oxford shoe (flat heel, lace up leather shoe). The black distinguishing middle piece, the “saddle” was originally created to help support the instep during sports…Surprise surprise! The rest of the shoe is white which was the traditional look but the shoe can also be found in other colours too. Last note: Young college aged men and women wore this shoe
Saddle shoes moved from an athletic shoe only seen during sports to everyday during the late 1930s, early 40s as young women looked for shoes that were more functional and represented their more active lifestyle. Plus there was a ration on the size of a shoe heel during the war and the low heeled saddle shoe fit the bill.
The shoes could be worn with swing skirts or dresses and bobby socks for a night of jitterbug/Lindy hop or match them with a blouse and pants (rolled up or normal). Here are some great examples of how you could wear your saddle shoes.
As the war ended and 1950s hit almost every young women/college girl had saddle shoes in her closet. The below picture is pretty standard when one thinks of the 1950’s teenager.
So there you have it the brief history of saddle shoes. Now go out and put some in your closet today! eBay and several online websites like “Muffys” can help you with your search.
Sept 30th, 2016 UPDATE-Swing Out To Victory this year is back at the Hamilton Warplane Museum (Nov 19th) and tickets are currently up for grabs. Get yours today!
Hi everyone! For my first official blog entry I thought I would start with a favourite event of the Lindy Hop season in Toronto called “Swing out to Victory“. This dance is usually held at a Warplane museum in hamilton but plans have slightly changed this year and it’s now in Toronto on November 10th. Now for those who have attended in the past, you know that dressing up is pretty much a must. You can dress modern or you can venture down the Vintage/Reproduction clothing road (I personally prefer the latter), but for those interested in Vintage I thought I would supply some clothing inspiration/ideas for the lovely ladies prior to the big dance. And since the dance is more focused towards 1940s clothing, I thought I would focus on 1940s style for this blog (however there is nothing wrong with breaking out 1920s-50s style as well).
1940s II faut ‘skimp’ pour être chic’, you must skimp to be chic – Vogue Oct 1941-
The war was on and rationing of materials was in full effect. Gone were the days of silk and wool, women were left with materials like rayon, synthetic Jersey, and gingham to create their clothes. Elaboration was out and a pared-down elegance was becoming the norm. The main look of the decade: Was broad shoulders and a streamlined, slim look.
Women’s “Utility Suit” or “Victory Suit” or “Clothing by law” was fashioned to resemble the military style of WWII. The suits had a boxy, broad-shouldered (aka shoulder pads) jacket. Peplum at the bottom of the jacket was also used to give the illusion of volume (see pic below). Blouses were normally solid coloured with details around the neck. Skirts were shorter (knee-length) and either straight or A-lined and had a front and back pleat.
Other Skirt Options:
And swing skirt (for the dance floor)
How to wear this look: Accessories even during the war were still very important to a 1940’s women. Pair the suit with an asymmetrical or angled shaped hat with unusual trimmings (whatever could be substituted or used during the war. Ex: materials from older hats). Add Stockings with the seam or you could do what many women had to do when stockings became rationed which was to paint some light colour to your legs and draw the seam up the back. Shoes: Peep Toe and T-straps (1” in height) were fashionable (and saved on leather) as were Cork platforms. Don’t forget a basic purse. Lastly add your red lipstick and curl your hair with a pin curl set.
Pants/Slacks were also becoming part of women’s every day wear as they had to wear them to the factories. These slacks were often high cut or at the waist and would have a single pleat down the front of the pant, and wide legged. Jeans and overalls were also being worn much like our favourite “Bomb Girls” did.
How to wear this look: Top the pants with a form fitting blouse or sweater tucked in, add a “mans cut” jacket or Bolero. Add the “Rosie the Riveter” scarf to your hair if you want or a snood with victory rolls and don’t forget the red lips. Shoes were sturdy and practical, often flat or you could pair them with a wedge shoe.
Shirtwaist dresses: This style of dress you can easily find today (Trashy Diva has a few they make). The simple dress features a button down style top often seen with a flared or A-line skirt. Just like everything else during this time it was considered useful for most daily activities.
How to wear this look: Pair it with a pair of saddle shoes (and bobby socks-they appeared in the 40’s first) or wedge or peep toe shoes. Hair in victory rolls or try a pin curl set. Add a ribbon, Flower or a snood to the hair. Once again…put on those red lips.
Rayon Dresses were very popular during the 40’s as it was the dress”that never creased and had silk-like quality to it” and made going from day to evening very easy. Many of the dresses would be in colourful prints, knee-length and very simple cuts. Bolero and fitted jackets were added to the dress to create more outfits. This style was very popular for swing dancers.
How to wear this look: Same styling as image below.
1940’s dress features:
Cap sleeves (sometimes with a small slit on the side for ease of movement)
Puffed up sleeves with gathers at the top
Dress necklines: Cut-outs (got to loves cut-outs!), Square, keyhole, V etc.
Sequins & beads: Not rationed by the war, sequins were sewn on dresses, jackets and shawls to add drama to day wear and evening wear.
Evening Dresses “Long”: Were Strapless (elegant and saved on material!), spaghetti strapped or halter topped, draping from the waist was seen as well.
Evening Dresses “Short”: Women would wear cocktail dresses (Little Black dress made its way to the scene) or Suits. This look was very popular during the height of the war.
Now for something a little different….
Sportswear & Ready to Wear (Originated from New York Fashion Industry)
Highlights (but not limited too):
Shirtwaist dress (mentioned above)
Pinafore Dress-often seen in Gingham
Sundresses in cotton
Plaids, checks and stripes were often seen in Ready to wear outfits
Beachwear or Swimsuits (Maybe you would like to go as Pinup Betty Grable)
One piece suits were form fitted, Halter or V neck with bottoms that were like shorts (but went to the top of the thigh) or skirt shaped.
2 pieces swimsuits were not like what we know today. They were high-waisted, and the top was the same as above. Note: The Bikini was invented in 1946.
Playsuits: Very short dresses that wrapped around a swimsuit. Also playsuits with long skirts and front buttons with a snug leg under panties and bra-like top.
How to wear these looks: If you are going for the “Sportswear” look think of a “younger look”. Simple pageboy hair style, no hat, saddle shoes, peep toe shoes or wedges. Ribbon in the hair if you like. Cute and simple. Red lips!
For Swimwear: Look to the Pinups of the time for style inspiration. Betty Grable, Ava Gardner, Jane Russel. 1940’s hair style and 40’s shoes and your good to go. Oh! and a flower in the hair always helps (As everyone knows or now knows 🙂 I’m a big hair flower fan)
Hawaiian themed & Mexican Influences
Sarong Dresses and Hawaiian prints – MY personal favorite
Peasant tops-off shoulder blouses with drawstring and puffed up sleeves and a full peasant skirt. Think Carmen Miranda
How to wear this look: With the styles above, 1940’s hair and makeup is a must. Add flowers…lots of flowers to one’s hair. Pile on the Bakelite bracelets for extra effect.
Christian Dior’s “New Look”-1947
With the war over, materials available and France open for business again a brand new look was created for women called “New Look” by Christian Dior. The idea was to let the curves of the women’s body be molded by the clothes. Highlights:
Small nipped in waist
Full skirt falling below mid-calf
Soft shoulders, NO MORE SHOULDER PADS!
Loads and loads of fabric
How to wear this look: Kitten heels or pumps, dramatic hat, gloves, red lips, black eyeliner and impressively styled hair.
I have a few boards on Pinterest that I have been filling up with great style ideas. Check them out:
For places in Toronto: Visit Gadabout in Leslieville or Cabaret Queen St. West. Kensington market might have some 1940’s clothes or “Like” clothes (Flashback, Exile, Ego). Meaning you might find a 1980’s dress influenced by the 40’s and since you have a bunch of new info on the “look” of that time period you could easily pull it off. For new vintage style dresses check out: Rosie the Rebel on bloor st west, Damzels on queen st east and on roncesvalles, Tatyana on Queen St.West and Loveless on College St.
In Elora there is a very amazing dress shop called “Sweet Trash” which will be able to help you with your 1940’s dresses/suit hunt.
Online: Etsy is always a good place to shop, as is Ebay.
So my ladies, there you have it A high-level overview of what you could wear to Swing Out to Victory..or really any swing dance/event you wish to attend. I hope this has helped you get your brain going and I look forward to seeing all the pics of your beautiful outfits (since I sadly have to miss this year )
Hi Everyone! This blog is a new venture for me because unlike my blog in the past which focused on my crazy dating life (which is non-existent now that I’m married lol) this one is about my passion for all things Vintage from 1920’s-60’s with a focus on my love of Lindy Hop and Rockabilly.
I currently live in Toronto and I Lindy Hop regularly and when I go out I try to always dress up and look the part of someone from the 40’s or 50’s. Even during the day I have found myself dressing more in the vintage look than jeans and t-shirts. I’m just feel more like “me” when I wear vintage (or reproduction) clothing then I do in normal street wear.
So with that said, when I’m dancing I always get asked about “where I got that?”, or “how did you do your hair?” etc. so I felt that starting a blog would be the best way to give you MY take (and my guest bloggers take as well, that I will have time to time) of everything you need or want to know about living the vintage life with a Toronto Lindy Hopper twist (aka some Cdn content lol).
Lastly, I decided to call my blog “The Vintage Inn” because I really feel that it expresses exactly what I’m trying to do with this blog… “A place where all things Vintage live”, a “Catch all” you could say. Clothing posts, hair & makeup posts, online shopping tips, where to vintage shop in Toronto, etc.