* So here's how I came up with today's blog post - get comfortable!
Our friend Mark recently lent us some great DVDs, including some compilations of vintage commercials, educational films and propaganda. How To Be A Housewife has a looong infomercial for Ironrite, this crazy self-standing ironing machine. It makes ironing so much easier and quicker! They even send a representative from the company to your home to show you how to use it! And we thought, yeah sure, but how much would something like that cost?
Voila! Glen has a collection of vintage catalogs. According to the Fall and Winter 1955 issue of the Simpson Sears catalog, a Kenmore roll-away ironer (which looks to be the same thing as an Ironrite) cost $87.95 cash. To compare, a least expensive Kenmore regular iron is $4.65. So yeaaah, I don't think too many housewives had an Ironrite.
But! Since we had the catalog out, I looked through it. Wowee is it chock full of goodness! There are 6 pages of sewing notions, wool, etc. but only 3 packets of hot iron transfers. You could also buy embroidery thread, and pre-printed pillowcases and nursery sets to embroider yourself.
The clothes! Oh, the dresses and coats and pages upon pages of girdles. And I started thinking, what size would I need? And lo, a blog post was born!
* Now then, my figure type, according to these descriptions, would either be Average Women's or Women's Half Sizes - I have a "mature, well-developed figure" and I'm 5' 4" so I'm right on the edge of those categories.
My measurements are 45 - 40 1/2 - 47 (yeah, yeah, stereotypical American). According to the Average Woman's chart, I wear between a 42 and a 44. According to the Women's Half Size chart, I wear a 24 1/2.
Most of the clothes (including the coats) in the catalog are for Misses - there are only 4 1/2 pages with Women's clothes. On the pages with Women's and Half Sizes' clothes are taglines such as "... give a youthful and slenderizing effect" and "slenderizing lines that do flattering things to a woman's figure."
Conclusion? It would have been just as hard, if not harder, for me to find clothes in 1955.
But wait, there's more! Glen also has a 1983 Sears Christmas Wish Book. Oh.my.god I can't believe I wore some of these clothes. (to be fair, some of the sweaters aren't so bad).
There are size charts for Juniors and Misses', and under "Hard-to-find Sizes" we also have Women's, Half Sizes, Petite and Tall (who only get loungewear and robes). Once again I can be either Woman (hear me roar) or Half Size. Surprise - my size is still 42 in Women's! I honestly expected it to be different, since I've always heard that size numbers have changed drastically since the '50s. In Half Size I'm a 22 1/2, so just one size down from 1955.
Let's look at Sears today. Whoa, they still have catalogs! Including the Wish Book! How retro of them. The size charts are Petite, Regular, Tall, Image and Image Petite. Image?!?!? For Pete's sake. ANYway, I am now a size 18W in "Image." So sometime between '83 and today they did away with Women's and Half Size. Also, the charts have specific measurements rather than ranges.
Meanwhile, Target sizes its women's clothes with its own numbering system: 1, 2, 3, etc. However, there are no size charts on its website, so good luck! Torrid uses 2 systems: they have 1, 2, 3 and they also use the usual numbers - I'm a 2, equivalent to 18/20. Pennington's uses usual numbers, so I'm an 18. At the Gap I'm between 20 and 22. At Land's End I'm either a Misses' 20 or a Women's 1X / 18W.
So, if I'm pretty much an 18 according to all those charts, why are all my pants and skirts size 16? I have NO IDEA.
Until next time, remember, always try it on before you buy!