August 17, 2011

Design of the Times: 1930's Fashions in the Sears Catalog

There have been a few times in life that I have wanted a time machine (yes, I know impossible).  One; to go back to High School and punch someone (hmm, maybe a little harsh) at least stand up for myself. Two; to go back to college and change my major.  Three; go back and score some clothes from different decades.  The pictures I am about to share with you are extracted from Sears Company catalogs from 1930-1939.  The pictures are from the book
by Dover Publications.

There were a couple of events that took place that shaped the fashions of the 1930's.  First the decade was preceded by the 1929 stock market crash, shaking up the spending habits of Americans and bringing the decadence and excesses of the 1920's to an end.  While it would seem likely that the stock market crash and the Great Depression that followed would put an end to fashion or at the very least put it on the back burner, women and men still cared for their appearance and adopted new trends as much as economy would allow.  The silhouettes of the 1930's were longer and had a higher more defined waist than the diaphanous or boyish styles of the 1920's.  In the Sears catalog the marketers put an emphasis on value and quality, knowing that their customers were looking for those things when making a purchase.   There is a focus on accessories to change the appearance of an outfit, scarves, belts, jewelry, etc....  Celebrity labels and endorsed products were also a selling point for Sears customers.    The styles of the 30's are long and flowing with an emphasis on the feminine curves, ruffles and bows. Also make sure to take a look at the prices, can you imagine getting a cotton day dress for $1 or a pair of leather shoes for $2, I really do wish I had that time machine about now.
1930: Fur trimmed tweed and wool coats.

1930: Little, lovely, lady-like frame bags.
1931: Washable cotton print day dresses.

1933:  These evening dresses received Claudette Colbert's seal of approval.

1935: Lacy, intricate, underthings and loungewear.
1936: A fine assortment of summer sandals.
1938: The "Many Way" dress, styled with multiple looks.
1939:  No look is complete unless it is topped off with an architectural hat.
All images are from the book "Everyday fashions of the Thirties: As Pictures in Sears Catalog" to learn more or to purchase a copy you can click on the link below.
What is your take on 1930's fashion? Did you see anything you would currently wear?  Do you have a favorite style decade?  Share it in the comments section below.


  1. Three things caught my attention; stamps being cheaper than gasoline, the fact that Sears was the place to shop for fashionable clothes and the many-way dress. Who knew that style of dress existed in the 30's. Thanks for the travel back in time.

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