Custom Style

Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic

Vintage Surprise in My Mailbox

Today the mailman rang my doorbell and left a package on my doorstep. It was from my Mother-in-law, and it was rather heavy.

It’s always fun to receive unexpected gifts, and this was one of the most thrilling because when I opened the box I found this:

The Montgomery Ward Catalog for Fall & Winter of 1946-1947!

It’s a full inch-and-a-half thick! Over 1000 pages of detailed history, and it’s BIG – 9.25” x 13.25” sized pages! It includes everything from clothing to refrigerators to children’s toys to tractor parts.

It’s so thick the index fits on the spine!

The photos are fantastic and the detailed descriptions are wonderful. It’s in surprisingly good shape for being from 1947 – I only found one “dog-eared” page and I’m not sure it was folded on purpose. (My MIL said she found it for only 5 bucks at a thrift store!)

Of course my favorite section is the women’s fashion.

I find it interesting that the styles of jackets and coats back then aren’t terribly different from the modern styles in stores today.

I especially like the wool pea coat on the bottom row, middle right page.

Other than the elaborate Forties hairstyles and the fact that none of the models are wearing jeans, it’s kind of hard to date the coats.

Rain hats and trench coats!

And look! Tying the belt of your coat isn’t such a new idea even though current fashion magazines act like it is.

There are pages and pages of beautiful hats! I wish it were easier to pick up millinery supplies at my local fabric stores – I may have to make some of these!

I love the style lines of this dress:

Only $12.98!

Some of the pages are even in color! These sweaters and cardigans are still considered stylish today:

I would totally wear the two in the bottom right corner! Love the colors!

I would love to be able to digitize this catalog to preserve the history! I may have to invest in a handheld scanner in the future…

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3 responses to “Vintage Surprise in My Mailbox

  1. Karen February 8, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Thank you, thank you for sharing pages from your wonderful unexpected gift! You are so right about the fashions being so similar to today’s. I constantly marvel at how “transferable” mid-century patterns are to today. By the way, you must have a very thoughtful, very lovely mother-in- law!

    • Brooke February 8, 2012 at 9:57 am

      Glad I was able to share by simply taking some photographs! I really do need to scan the whole thing someday so that I can share the catalog in it’s entirety. (Btw, you can enlarge the pictures if you click on them because I always try to leave my original photo files a little larger than they show up in the blog posts for those who want to view the details a little more.)

      And yes, my MIL loves to spoil me with her sewing and fashion finds. I’m very lucky to have both encouraging in-laws and parents! =)

  2. Athene February 9, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    That is neat. I agree — I would pretty much wear any of those coats. They are all extremely similar to what I normally see.

    I had a co-worker who was just lamenting the fact that she had thrown away a pair of dressy sandals that she had owned forever. She tossed them because they were out of style….and then went to Dillard’s and found an almost identical pair of sandals….just in a slightly darker shade of brown. Funny!

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