Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sears Roebuck 1938 Catalog...Glorious Colors "Good Enough To Eat"

Last week I promised you that my next post would bring you some SPRING - and I am a woman of my word!  

The Sears Roebuck 1938 Spring & Summer Catalog is bursting with glorious colors, prints and springtime fashions. 

Silk Print fabrics are featured above...and a variety of Rayon textures & weaves are pictured below...

Look at all of the varieties of "Celanese Rayon":  Sharkella, Sharkskin, Faconne, Pebble Crepe, Crepe Romaine, Satin Crepe...and "Sweet As Sugar"!  Wouldn't it be fun to have a few samples of each - so that when you came across a vintage dress you could say with confidence, "Aha! This must be Sharkella!"

Have any of you started a collection of vintage fabric samples?  Finding different samples would be challenge enough - but I would think that figuring out exactly what it is that you've got would be much trickier!  

Another fun research project:  identifying what colors & color names were popular, year by year...

These two "Ice Cream Color" dresses were photographed in black & white...

...but they came in four ice cream shades: "Pistache" (Lido Aqua 901); "Strawberry" (Pink 525); "Vanilla" (White); and "Lemon Ice" (Maize 705)

Isn't that long zipper in the second dress fun? It begins at the neckline and goes all the way down to the hemline!

The first dress not only comes in four ice cream shades, but also two choices of fabric: Celanese Rayon Sharkella and "Star-Shan," a shantung effect spun rayon.

That year - 1938 - Sears included a Color Chart in the back of the book - so that a potential buyer would know what the clothing color names looked like:

These six "Mediterranean" colors highlighted in the corner of the chart were hot that year...
And these are the four "ice cream" colors available in the dresses above:

basic "Vanilla" (white), and...

"Pistache" (Lido Aqua 901)

"Strawberry" (Pink 525)

...and "Lemon Ice" (Maize 705)
I'm not sure I'd find a bowl of ice cream in those colors all that appealing - but the fashions are certainly yummy!

Here are four more dresses in the Sears 1938 Spring/Summer Catalog - and these were photographed in Glorious Color!

I've said this before...  I enjoy the colorful "vintage" language used in the catalog descriptions just as much as the vintage fashions.

The dress above is shown in one of the ice cream colors - Lemon Ice (Maize 705).  Can you imagine this two-piece dress for just $2.98!  And it came with a scarf too!

Buttons & Bows, Flowers & Lace, all in one perky dress!  It makes me smile...

More bows and buttons in this "corselet" dress!  I like the Wine and Aqua color contrast.

The first dress in the black & white "ice cream" photo above was available in "Star-Shan."  Well, this dress fabric is called "Sun-Shan"!  I love the names they gave to fabrics back then...

Here's a full length illustration of each of the four dresses modeled above - plus another view of the hats.  Which dress do you like best? 

I'm partial to the first one in Lemon Ice. And I want the whole outfit - 2-piece dress, scarf, striped purse & hat!  I'm going to fill out that Sears order form right now...

Isn't it fun to dream?


  1. Ooh this is soo lovely! I don't think we in the Netherlands had any colored advertisement at all at that era!

  2. So beautiful and very spring like! Something I love about vintage clothing is colour, you see so little colour in modern clothing, there is so much beige, grey and black. I do like colour in clothing and in decorating too!

  3. At the risk of making you a little envious, I have to tell you, I have a bunch of those samples you mentioned. A job lot from a salesperson, from 1937, they are A4 sized cards with a swatch of each fabric and a big colour artists drawing of the dress that would come in said fabric.

  4. oh sooooo lovely! I am partial to the lemon ice too! What a fantastic color!!

  5. Kitty - I am SO ENVIOUS! What a great find!

  6. those are just glorious colors and patterns. Thanks for brightening my day!

  7. Great post, thanks for sharing these images!

  8. Thanks so much for your comment! I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to discover your blog.

    Yes, it's comforting to realise that you're not the only person who feels like you're going crazy when writing! I can't remember who said it, but writers are definitely people for whom writing is HARDER, not easier.

    Andrea x

  9. I don't know whether I prefer the blue or the yellow but either way they are totally gorgeous. xxx

  10. I'm in love with the corselet dress. You're right, the wine color and turquoise is a gorgeous combo. I, too, want to be "packed full of style...in glorious color"!

  11. Oh my God!!!One of each please ... Ok. I request your permission to take these images, please .... I found this image on the network once the resolution but it is small and I can not see the details of the dresses, I'm in love with the four and I need to sew details like the photo, I can?? ? please ....

  12. Amazing images. I'd love to have a corselet dress, love the colors and detailing on it. And you are so right about the "vintage language," no modern ad would say "everyone a picture," so cute!

  13. I really enjoy those colour swatches as well as the beautiful dresses. Thanks for posting :)

  14. Susan,
    What a wonderful post! The pictures are all incredible but thar first one is just to die for! Howvare you surving the cold and snow?

  15. what an amazing things to own. A great bit of fashion and social history x

  16. Susan, I thought this post was fantastic! I love looking at fashions of that era, and the colors are so interesting. You never fail to pull together a great blog post, and you throw in some education, just what I like!

  17. Looking at that size chart... a 34 bust is a size 16? Either sizes or physiques have certainly changed in 72 years.

  18. Bob - yeah, those old size charts take a bit of getting used to. I think both sizes and physiques have changed. As women have, in general, gotten bigger over the years - the size numbers have gone down. Lucky us!

  19. HiSars, I looked the internet over and over looking for a good color chart for mediterranean colors when I ran accross an image on google of your "Swankiest" new med. hues. Thank you, it is the best and will work well for me in the painted portraits I'm doing of four children.
    I am now following you and would love it if you would go to my blog and sign up to follow me. Thanks so much. Love your blog.


I love all of your comments - it's what makes blogging fun! C'mon, let's get a conversation going...

Related Posts with Thumbnails