Tag Archives: Bobbie Brooks

Ad Campaign – Bobbie Brooks, 1957

Luscious lambswool intarsia sweaters by Bobbie Brooks and a dyed-to-match skirt

A magnificent look… yours in either beige heather or grey heather.

What I found interesting about this ad from 1957 was the use of the word “intarsia.”  I strongly suspect that if I were to stand on the corner of a busy street and ask random strangers what an intarsia sweater is that very few of them would know, the exceptions being knitters and textile fanatics.  But there it was in 1957 being used as a selling point in an ad as if anyone reading it would know the term.

I was too young in 1957 to have any idea about this, but what about my older readers?  Did intarsia sweaters mean anything to you?

For the non-knitters reading, intarsia is a technique of using different blocks of color like you see in all three sweaters above. For each block the other color is not carried across the back of the knitting like is commonly seen in patterned sweaters.

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Ad Campaign – Tammy Andrews, 1967

Click to enlarge

I’m Tammy Andrews, one of four sisters.  But I have a mind of my own.

In spite of the ad copy and the photographic evidence, there was no Tammy Andrews, and no other sisters.  The “sisters” were actually the divisions of the Stacy Ames Company.   Tammy Andrews was the juniors division, Stacy Ames was for young misses, Nan Leslie was for sophisticated misses, and Kelly Arden was for junior petites.  Stacy Ames was the first label, and dates from 1958.  The other three all came out within the next five years.

I chose this ad today because there is a story about it that shows just how valuable period fashion magazines are in helping us learn more about companies and labels.  A while back Mod Betty emailed me about a 1960s dress of hers.  The label was “Kelly Arden – One of the Four Sisters.”  The label looked almost like a small private label, and my first thought was that maybe it was a “house” label for a dress shop.  I put the name of the label on my list of things to search  as a google search had produced nothing.

A few days later, while looking for something else, I came across the ad above.  The “four sisters” fairly jumped off the page, and a quick scan of the ad copy proved that I’d found the answer to Mod Betty’s question.  From there the search became a bit easier because of the additional search terms.

Mod Betty then found a reference that somehow connected Stacy Ames with the Bobbie Brooks company.  Sure enough, Maurice Saltzman, the owner of Bobbie Brooks, bought Stacy Ames and Kelly Arden in 1962.  At some point the other two labels were acquired and placed in the Stacy Ames company which operated separately from Bobbie Brooks.

And here is Mod Betty, showing why she has that name, with her mod Kelly Arden dresses.

Isn’t that flower detail great?

My thanks to Mod Betty for sharing her photos and for inspiring this post.  Photos courtesy and copyright of Beth Lennon.

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Ad Campaign – Bobbie Brooks, 1960

Going Places with Bobbie Brooks go-togethers

Arrive in style via spice-colored brushed wools… the soft purr of sweaters traveling atop sleek skirts… to mix and match for your very own day-time, date-time, play-time Wardrobe Magic.

We all enjoyed the green and blue last week, so I had to feature another ad, although softer, of that combination.  The reference to “spice-colored” in the ad copy is a bit confusing, as I associate spice with warm golds and browns.

Of course, what Bobbie Brooks dubbed “go-togethers” we would call separates.  By 1960 many companies were producing coordinating lines of separates that a woman could mix and match.

We Baby Boomers remember when Bobbie Brooks was big stuff.  Their target consumer was the teen and college student, and they took a very scientific approach to merchandising.  They came up with an organized plan of choosing which garments to manufacture. This plan utilized a consumer board made up of 600 junior-sized teens and young women, their targeted consumers.  So in effect, the clothes were those chosen by the potential wearers.

Note the offer of a free booklet, “Wardrobe Magic.”  I have a copy and I wrote about it and the company a few years ago, so check it out to learn more about this one great American brand.

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Back to the Seventies

I graduated from high school in 1973, and this outfit would have been the very thing I’d have worn that year.  The girls at my school had just been granted the right to wear pants, mainly because the school officials didn’t seem to be able to control the shortness of the minis we were wearing.  Yes, there were rules, but they couldn’t send us all home.  So rather than have the constant parade of over-exposed thighs, the powers must have concluded that covered up, even if it meant pants, was better.

It was a whimsical time in fashion with lots of silly little prints of Holly Hobbie and cartoon characters that were popular with girls at my school.  We liked pinafore tops and I even had a dress with a back tie sash.  I guess we knew it was pretty much our last chance to really be kids.

So, sure, I’d have worn the mouse sweater.

I’ve had this little Bobbie Brooks sweater for at least five years, and possibly longer.  When I found it I had a perfect vision of the pants that would go with it.  First, they had to be plaid.  The main color would be light, or even white, but the blue would match, and there would be a darker color, maybe a deep gold or a red.

When I found these last week, I was pretty sure I’d found my pants.  Still, I was working the color from memory and could not be sure.  It helped that colors are fashion-driven, and this was a good color in the early 70s.

It was such a good match that you might think that the pants are also from Bobbie Brooks.  Actually, the label is Gordon of Philadelphia, which was geared toward a slightly older, more conservative consumer.  But I guess even the preppy had to capitulate to the way of fashion, at least for a few years.

 

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Wardrobe Magic from Bobbie Brooks, 1964

I recently got this great little promotional book from Bobbie Brooks.  You younger readers probably know Bobbie Brooks only as a Walmart brand, or maybe as just one of the many cheap lines that thrift stores are so full of.  But during the 1960s, Bobbie Brooks was big stuff.

The company was formed in 1957, and the owners took a scientific appproach to merchandising. They came up with an organized plan of choosing which garments to manufacture. This plan utilized a consumer board made up of 600 of  junior-sized teens and young women, their targeted consumers.  So in effect, the clothes were those chosen by the potential wearers.  By the time this booklet was published by the company in 1964, Bobbie Brooks was one of the largest clothing makers in the US.

So I suppose they felt qualified to give out wardrobe advice.  Actually, the advice in this booklet is quite good. There’s nothing earth shattering in it, but how can you argue with “Fit is everything” or “Look for the signs of quality.”

Most of all I love the diagrams I’ve included here that explain some clothing terms.  I do love an Italian roll collar, but honestly the Peter Pan and the Bermuda were more in the Bobbie Brooks style.  And I guess that’s why the company went into decline by the end of the 1960s.  These were good girl clothes, and we all know what way she went.

The company was eventually bought by Garan, who signed a deal with Walmart to sell Bobbie Brooks.  No longer was it a mid-priced junior line.  And most recently, the label was spotted at the Dollar General Store.  Looks like the end of the line for another great American brand.

Trivia:  What 1982 rock song references Bobbie Brooks?

Comments:

Posted by KeLLy Ann:

“dribble off those bobbie brooks let me do what i please….” ahhahahaa! That brings me back. Its a shame that people seem to just settle for the crap they call clothes today. sigh.

Wednesday, February 3rd 2010 @ 7:01 PM

Posted by Sherie:

“Little ditty about Jack and Diane…” It’s a crime what has happened to some of these great old brands.

Thursday, February 4th 2010 @ 4:44 PM

Posted by Lizzie:

Yep! That’s the song. I’ve always loved that line.

And yes, it is a real shame to think of what has happened to our clothing industry.

Friday, February 5th 2010 @ 8:35 AM

Posted by Becca:

“Life Goes On” which I knew before I read the comments! But–1982? Really! I love the pointers in here too–helps me describe the clothes I list. Thanks for your wonderful blog!:)

Friday, February 5th 2010 @ 7:04 PM

Posted by tom tuttle from tacoma:

i know “life goes on” but really nothing about bobbie brooks… love these but do you have them larger?

Friday, February 5th 2010 @ 8:53 PM

Posted by Mod Betty / Retro Roadmap:

I love your corrolation between the demise of “good girl clothes” and the late 60’s- totally makes sense! Sad in a way though too. Thanks for sharing this!

Saturday, February 6th 2010 @ 2:53 PM

Posted by Lizzie:

ttft, I have some of them on flickr and will try to get the rest of them added tomorrrow.

Yes, Mod-B, not many of us were going for the Bobbie Brooks look in the early 70s!

Saturday, February 6th 2010 @ 4:18 PM

 

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