This Vactor’s Out-door Girl trousers ad dates from sometime in the mid-1930s, judging by the style of the shirt, the style of the slacks (and the fact that the button instead of zip), and the hair style. I actually have a sewing pattern from the same time with a shirt that is identical to the one the “model” is wearing. Another clue is that sanforization was patented in 1930 by Sanford Lockwood Cluett. By the mid 1930s the process was being widely used to eliminate shrinkage in cotton fabrics.
I’d never heard of the D.C. Vactor company, but I was able to find out a little bit online. Because the ad told me that the company was located in Cleveland, Ohio, I was able to attempt a Google search that produced some results.
The first mention I found of Vactor’s was in a 1909 Sheldon’s Manufacturing Trade magazine, a periodical for the “cutting-up trade”. I’m assuming that was a funny double entrendre. At least I hope so. All I learned was that Vactor’s was a maker of pants, and was located on Saint Clair Avenue in what was once a manufacturing center in Cleveland. By the late 1910s and early 1920s, there were numerous references to the company in various clothing manufacturing trade magazines. The last reference I found to D.C. Vactor was that his widow made a donation to a charity in his memory in 1944.
The little swatches of fabric really help one visualize how the slack trousers actually looked. The fabric is a twill and is quite lightweight, much lighter than denim. This does not seem to be a fancy department store product. The price of $2.45 ($43 in today’s dollar) plus the type of fabric seem to point to this being the sort of thing that might have been sold in a small town general store or a cheaper department store.
Ads like this one were mailed to prospective buyers at stores, or were dropped off by the thousands of traveling sales representatives who paid calls to stores to take orders for their companies’ products.