Time Capsule For 1924 - The Chicago Mail Order Company Catalog


I was super excited to receive this book in the mail during the week. It's a window into the styles of 1924-5 for women, men and children and much information can be gleaned from the detailed descriptions.

As an online seller I was impressed by their declarations of dedicated customer service and their policies. It's just what Etsy and Ebay encourage us to do these days - full refunds if not satisfied,  and fast dispatch. To be (really) precise, they promise to dispatch in 14 3/4 hours!

Additionally, they swear that they have a 3% profit policy to keep the prices down!! And here are their reviews from happy customers...

Not much has really changed business wise, just the minor advent of the internet, but the principles are all the same.

And the fashions are amazing.

The Chicago Mail Order Company boasted being able to deliver the latest Paris fashions at the lowest prices. They even employed their own French expert, Paul Carét,  to select the clothing on offer. Lucky American ladies!

Styles were even selected for a range of figures. They had a large selection of garments available to suit the larger figure "at no extra cost".

I want to know where all those "stout" women hung out. A bridge party for larger ladies?

 Having just re-watched the fabulous House of Eliot series, I can't help thinking of Tilly doing all the hand beading and the toll it took on her eyes.

Of course the underwear pages are fabulous. Corsets were shaping for the straight up and down look of the '20s rather than the Edwardian pigeon silhouette or the Victorian hourglass.

I've had a few of these in the store. I've always called them step-ins, but here they're referred to as "envelope drawers" or "bloomer drawers". It's interesting how we sometimes adopt our own contemporary names for garments from the past, when they were originally known as something different. My mother always looks at me blankly when I refer to tap pants, because in Australia in the 1950s they were always called scanties.

 It's not all glamour. It was mighty cold in houses with rudimentary heating, and work places often didn't have heating at all, so all members of the family needed their woolly under things.

I've had a few of these nightgowns. More often, only the crocheted yokes survive.

Embroidered nightgown 

 Lacy bodice nightgown.

And oh my goodness!! The shoes! The hats! and the stockings!

Stockings rarely survive a few years of wear, let alone 95 years, so we hardly ever see originals these days.

How adorable are the Chinese slippers? This must have been at the height of the fashion for Chinoiserie, or things Chinese.

 Here's my boudoir cap, I can't resist sharing. It's so exciting to find the things in the old catalogues.

 1920s boudoir cap

You could even send in a piece of your own hair and buy a matching hair piece.

Difficult though it is to drag one's attention away from the women's fashions, the adorable children's items can't be missed. 

And even the men's gear is snazzy. These "jazz" pants have a natty square pearl button trim at the leg edge.

So lots of homework for me, studying all the items. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.


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