Montgomery Ward Collage 1961 Lileks 2

Scans courtesy of James Lileks

Before the Intertubes took over our buying habits, there was Sears and Wards.

These images are from the 1961 Montgomery Ward catalog, “Your Store At Home!”  Order over the telephone and like magic you have a new wardrobe (Just say “Charge It”).  Just look at the wasp wastes, the fitted cuts, and the hair.  And the hats.  Wow.  Every picture looks like the model is on the way to some kind of social function, or at least dressing for the unexpected fortune which might be walking their way.  With the recent appearance of shows like Mad Men, Vegas, and the short-lived Pan Am, styles from the early 1960s have gotten a lot of attention.

And in my mind, it’s for good reason.

I have some respect for the amount of effort it took to be in style back then.  The fashion of the era had a certain way of drawing a line between genders, something which has become more blurred with time.  Catalogs from any decade serve as a time capsule, and this one from fifty-plus years ago captures much.

The scans above were done by James Lileks, a Midwestern blogger and writer.  He is also immensely funny, and his descriptions of pictures he posts on his personal blog have – in the past – made me purple from laughing.  To see this entire scan collection – page by page – click HERE.  Make sure to read his commentary!