Saturday, September 7, 2013

1958 Penney's Fashions and Fabrics

Many years ago I picked up this over-sized booklet of J. C. Penney's Fashions and Fabrics, Spring and Summer 1958. The model looks so cool and well put together. Down to the white gloves!

I loved that it had fabric swatches in it! And all the details about each swatch, down to shrinkage.

Color trends included:

  • Nautical Tricolor --Growing out of a world wide interest in boats and ships
  • Checks, Stripes and Plaids, and Houndstooth, in blue, gray, brown on sheer fabrics
  • Mist and Cloud colors-- muted beige and silver grays, some with tints of pink or green
  • Flower Reds--Zinnia tones of red, pink, and orange
  • Gold-tinged colors of coral, tangerine, melon, marigold and sulfur yellow
  • Blues, especially navy and cadet, as well as turquoise and blue greens, plus French Lilac, grape hyacinth and delphinium blue
  • Greens in muted and gray shades of sage and olive but also mint and emerald
  • Overprinted white with florals and conversational prints were the' high mark of fashion' that summer
  • Glitter--metallic yards with Mylar was used in all fabrics, including denims
  • Prints of every sort
Silhouettes and details includes the chemise and relaxed sheaths, a Chinese influence with side slits and neckline, matching coats and dresses, barrel back shaped cutaway suits, dresses with fitted fronts and bloused backs, full skirts with sectional pleats with emphasis on the 'dome shape', wraparound skirts, and the 'short' hemline. Sportswear for all ages and for both sexes had found a new importance. Shorts and sundresses for the ladies and plaid shirts for men, worn untucked. 

"The Bishop instructions" were included in new patterns. In junior high my sewing class used the Bishop Method to teach us how to make an apron and an A-line skirt. I went home and asked for a sewing machine! I did not get one until I married a man whose mom was an obsessive sewer. She even sewed underpants for herself!

"Today's Casual Look is Soft and Easy" notes the head line introducing these patterns.

Really Dressed Up! offers both the full skirt and the sheath dress.

Knits were 'making news' including use in tricot lingerie, double woven white gloves, and casual shirts for me--the Polo shirts that are now the uniform of men 'of a certain age'. 

It is no wonder we love the Mad Men fashions! We have lost the elegance and sophistication of those years. 


  1. Thanks for this informative post! I really love the "dressed up" full skirt dress. I so enjoy vintage fashions, and just love it when I come across a gem like this older catalog at a yard sale. Have a super day!