Goin’ shopping with a 1957 Sears catalog

I often peruse through my old Sears catalog and wonder: if this were indeed 1957 and I were really ordering things for my house (and my life, since Sears offered everything from boots to boats “back in the day”), what would catch my eye? What items would I be writing down on the order form and sending away to Los Angeles?

The clothing just about does it for me. I could order nearly every single dress I see in the catalog and be in heaven when they arrived. Was there ever a fashion that made women more feminine than the Midcentury dresses? Flouncy and floral, they could make just about anyone look about as girly as Marilyn or Grace (Kelly, that is).

Here are a few gems that caught my eye this afternoon:



The other section of the catalog which I tend to linger up on is the fabrics; some fabrics are still around in various forms, but others (hello, dear barkcloth), are a rarity. Some fabrics just have that fifties feel that modern day fabrics cannot replicate. I snapped some pictures of a couple of pages:


While I enjoy looking through the catalog and coveting some of the items, fabrics, colors, and styles, there are distinct reasons why I do not wish to go back to the days of ordering everything through the Sears catalog. In 1953, one could even purchase cosmetics via Sears, and most females will be able to immediately identify what problem mail-order cosmetics might pose. For one, we aren’t talking about today’s Mary Kay or Avon ordering, where we have beautiful full-color pictures of the colors available. Not only is there no color pallet, but there is no color — period. The entire section is in black and white. So ordering a shade of lipstick might be a tad tricky, don’t you think? In addition, the wide variety of colors we have today just weren’t the thing back in 1953. Take this example:
You have three colors to choose from. No neutral shades for you! You’re either a wearer of red, pink, or coral, or you’re out of luck. NO COMPLAINING! Back in my day, (says granny), we didn’t have lipstick we could order from a catalog. Only hussies wore lipstick!

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6 Replies to “Goin’ shopping with a 1957 Sears catalog”

    1. I get some of them as gifts, as I did this one, but others I’ve found on eBay and at consignment or antique shops. I love the bound collections, but they are also hard to find. eBay would probably be the best bet for those.

  1. Hi, Jen!
    L-o-o-o-o-o-ve your site!! Accidentally found you whilst reading Lileks’ Bleat comments. At first I thought it was MY Jen (oldest daughter Jennifer, to whom I had emailed the Price is Right & Match Game comments last week).

    I have an antique shop here in our western Iowa town. Right now I have lots of 1950s/1960s catalogs, as well as a smattering of vintage utensils & oddities.


    1. NeeNee, thanks for stopping by! Good to have a fellow Lileks’ reader here. An antique shop, eh? I may have to come visit you and check out your store. I always need an excuse for a road trip every now and then!

  2. I am looking for an Ad I was in in the 1953 Sears catalog. I modeled a girls raincoat. I would love to have a copy of the page. My mother’s copy was destroyed.
    Please respond

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