I recently received a group of early 1960s pattern company brochures from friend Rebecca. How did she know I’d want these? Am I that transparent? I certainly hope so.
They all date from June, 1961 to January of 1962, and are from Simplicity, Vogue, McCall’s, and Advance. As much as I love a great vintage Vogue or Bazaar magazine, these little newsprint treasures reveal much more about what the “average” American woman was wearing.
When I started sewing for myself in the late 1960s, I could not wait until the latest editions of the pattern brochures arrived at the pattern counter. I would spend hours carefully planning my next sewing project. Maybe it’s partly due to that fond memory that I have such a weakness for these.
Here are the play options from Simplicity for June, 1961. The bathing suit in the middle is what was considered a bikini in 1961. The playsuit of the right with the skirt cover up is also described as a bathing suit.
Pointed hem top patterns for all the women in the family. Actually, I’ve seen this hem on men’s things as well. And it makes me want to sew some chevroned stripes. McCall’s, June 1961.
A note about that hat: I have several examples of this bucket-shaped hat in my collection, but none are nearly as exaggerated as these.
From the same McCall’s brochure is a grouping of swimwear, including a bathing/play suit very similar to the Simplicity one, right down to the skirt. This bathing suit with matching skirt really was a great idea. It also shows how swimwear can often be dated by imagining a skirt over the trunks. Fashion does extend to swimwear.
The January 1962 issue of McCall’s Fashion Digest shows several examples of that most marvelous early Sixties wardrobe staple – the dress and jacket ensemble. The beige example with the fantastic neckline was from designer Hannah Troy. And note how similar the pink print dress is to the bathing suit and skirt in the previous picture.
The more high fashion home sewer also had the choice of a designer look from Europe. These dress and jacket ensembles were designed by Guy Laroche, Ronald Paterson, Jacques Griffe, and Gres. These were more than just a little more complicated that the designs in McCall’s and Simplicity.
The Vogue Young Fashionables line was quite fashion forward. January, 1962.
These designs from Advance are labeled “Sew Easy”, but I can see several techniques that might give even an intermediate sewer fits.
And finally, could there be any other looks that sum up 1962 better than these four? On the left we have three streamlined dresses and suits that have the Jackie Kennedy look bared down to the essentials. And on the right, the ever popular shirtwaist, though with a slightly less full skirt than just a year or two before.