Today I wore a skirt I made from Pendleton Black Watch plaid, and that reminded me that I had not talked about a group of brochures I have that advertise Scottish plaids and woolen knits. McEwens was actually a department store which operated for nearly 150 years before closing in 2016. McEwens had a feature that people today would consider to be a real luxury, but which was fairly common in nicer departments stores in 1961. That feature was a department that made clothing to order.
My brochures are advertising skirts made from wool. There were sixteen skirt styles from which to choose, and sixteen different tartans. A buyer would fill out the order form which asked for the correct measurements. She would then order either a waistband or a petersham waist. She could order pockets for an additional charge. The item was truly made to order.
All the style names start with “glen”. The prices quoted beneath each style was just for the sewing charge. The fabric had to be bought for an additional charge.
If you wanted a truly coordinated ensemble, you could buy your sweater from McEwens using this handy chart that told which sweaters would match. I really love the Black Watch skirt above with that deep green twin set. You probably gathered that because I have it pictured three times.
The custom department at McEwens also made other garments, like these coats and jackets. Note how much more it cost to make a jacket than a skirt.
For home sewers, McEwens sold the fabric by the yard.
This catalog showed some of the made-to-order items along with what might be considered the types of items tourists visiting Scotland were looking to buy. Things like kilt pins, tartan neckties, and tartan scarves.
A shopper could not only choose the style of handbag, but also the tartan used and the color of leather trim. I can’t imagine what this would cost today, but the best that I can figure, these cost approximately $120 in current dollars.
I find so many vintage tartan scarves that I think every visitor to Scotland must buy at least one. It has to be a rule, right?
I think I need a pair of New Caledonian dancing sandals.