Friends, we're traveling today, so pack you bags. We're climbing into our trusty time machine -- safety belts, please! -- and traveling back exactly sixty years, to 1951.
Our focus is fashion, but we're going to see much, much more. Our guide is the October 1951 issue of Woman's Home Companion, a popular magazine aimed at the American homemaker. Like so many women's magazines of this era, Woman's Home Companion combined articles on fashion, decorating, health, politics, as well as (gorgeously illustrated) contemporary fiction.
I love to read books about fashion history, but searching out primary sources is even more fun, and it's not hard. Vintage women's magazines -- and there were so many -- are easy to find, especially at flea markets, usually for just a few dollars. Unlike vintage patterns or store catalogs, there's very little interest in old general interest magazines like Woman's Home Companion (which folded in the late Fifties). Yet they are a treasure trove of information about what life was like back then, particularly for (white, middle class, MARRIED) women.
They are also bursting with unintentionally hilarious ads -- postwar consumerism was taking off -- classic period graphic design (think, cluttered) and sumptuous color photography.
This October issue is also chock full of fashion. Let's take a look...
Waists were nipped and skirts were often full, but not as big as they were later to get. Heightened femininity was the look of the day, with an emphasis on perfect grooming and elegance.
I must make Cathy a lounging ensemble like this...
A great article about separates. Do you know how to mix and match?
Women were expected to know how to sew, and this 1951 Woman's Home Companion has many sewing machine ads and sewing-related articles...
Fifties advertising is exuberant -- there was so much to buy, so many new appliances and products to make life easier!
The operative word here is exciting -- Americans had never had it so good and life seemed to be getting better and better.
Many more photos from this issue of Woman's Home Companion are viewable here.
Readers, do you like to look through old magazines or collect them? Which are some of your favorites? Which do you enjoy more -- the articles or the ads?
Vintage fashion magazines are wonderful, but I honestly think these general interest homemaker magazines are much more fun.
I'm a native New Yorker and self-taught sewing fanatic! I've been sewing obsessively since 2009 and today make all my own clothes using mostly vintage patterns and vintage sewing machines. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!