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Thread: Sears Made to Order catalog Fall & Winter 1939-1940

  1. #11
    One Too Many Jerekson's Avatar
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    Tango, that is an awesome find. Truly fantastic.

    Can we see a clearer picture of the "12 Sears features"? I'm curious.

  2. #12
    Call Me a Cab Tango Yankee's Avatar
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    I'm glad the catalog has been useful! Unfortunately, it's the only one I have so far. If I get any more I'll post them.

    Jerekson, hopefully this will be a bit clearer:



    Regards,
    Tom
    "One canít stop progress, of course, but Iíd really like to stick out my foot and trip it."

    "A man either lives life as it happens-meets it head on and licks it. Or turns his back on it and begins to wither away."

  3. #13
    Call Me a Cab skyvue's Avatar
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    For convenience's sake, I've converted Tango Yankee's individual files into a single PDF file (it's a 4.2 mb download). You can grab it here, if you're so inclined.

  4. #14
    Vendor DamianM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benny Holiday View Post
    Great catalogue! Thnaks for posting those images Tango!

    As for the guy with the shotgun, well, just look at the fabric of those suits. Clearly those guys are the gangsters, see? Just like every time I wear a pinstripe suit, people think I'm a gangster!

    I just read this and laughed.
    It is funny how the three men are standing around just holding a rifle casually. not today. people would be running .

  5. #15
    One Too Many Guttersnipe's Avatar
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    I love these old catalogs not just for the fashion, but for the sociological and economic data that can be gathered from them too! For example, according to the 1940 U.S. Census, the median annual income for males was $956. In other words, these $24.95 suits from Sears represented approximately 2.61% of a middle income man's annual pay. Expressing this percentage as a dollar amount of the comparable metric for 2010, we arrive at a figure of $869 . . . which is not a cheap suit by today's standards.
    Who says the golden era has to be tasteful and dignified?

  6. #16
    "A List" Customer YETI's Avatar
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    ^^If there was a tailor who could replicate any one of those suits, I'd pay him $870 no prob.

  7. #17
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    The post about dollar amounts raises a question: How many suits did the average man own, and for how long did he use them? It's possible that 2.6% represents an important multi-year investment perhaps more akin to a modern car payment than a wardrobe item.

  8. #18
    Vendor DamianM's Avatar
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    A couple of suits I say.
    2 everyday one
    a sports suit
    and the sunday suit

    Am I in the ballpark?

  9. #19
    Practically Family Qirrel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guttersnipe View Post
    I love these old catalogs not just for the fashion, but for the sociological and economic data that can be gathered from them too! For example, according to the 1940 U.S. Census, the median annual income for males was $956. In other words, these $24.95 suits from Sears represented approximately 2.61% of a middle income man's annual pay. Expressing this percentage as a dollar amount of the comparable metric for 2010, we arrive at a figure of $869 . . . which is not a cheap suit by today's standards.
    Not surprising, as they certainly didn't skimp on the build quality (as seen in the picture above).

  10. #20
    One Too Many Guttersnipe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YETI View Post
    ^^If there was a tailor who could replicate any one of those suits, I'd pay him $870 no prob.
    It's funny you say that because, when I returned $869 as a answer, I was surprised because this is almost exactly what I paid for a Hong Kong made-to-measure suit in 2011!

    Quote Originally Posted by MisterGrey View Post
    The post about dollar amounts raises a question: How many suits did the average man own, and for how long did he use them? It's possible that 2.6% represents an important multi-year investment perhaps more akin to a modern car payment than a wardrobe item.
    Suits were most definitely considered big multi-year purchase in that period. Advertisements of the era typically emphasis "a good value" (read: quality exceeding what's expected at that price point), longevity, and "good styling" (read: not a faddish cut that will look dated when the next temporary fad comes along). That said, I don't think suits were akin to purchasing a new car, but rather would be a periodic purchase, made as needed. Then, as now, buying a new car typically involved monthly payment and was very significant purchase. For comparison, the MSRP for the entry level 1940 Ford coupe was $599 - 660, depending on options. That's about 60-70% of the median annual pay for a American man in 1940.

    Quote Originally Posted by DamianM View Post
    A couple of suits I say.
    2 everyday one
    a sports suit
    and the sunday suit

    Am I in the ballpark?
    I don't think you're far off, but it would be somewhat dependent on man's profession, class, and region.

    The "black Sunday suit" (or Sunday best as it's often called), was really a garment of the less affluent. A working class man, for example, might own a wardrobe of laborer's garments and only a single "black Sunday suit" for church, weddings, funerals, etc. As the 20th century progressed, in the U.S., such suits were supplanted by suits more typical colors, but in Europe and the U.K., this was less the case. That is why black vintage suits are so much more common in Europe than they are in the U.S.

    A man of the middle classes, but still of modest financial means, would probably own about what you said, except a tuxedo (or dinner suit, if you like) would usually take the place of the "Sunday best" suit. Interestingly, in Emily Post's 1922 etiquette tome, Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home, she recommends that young men with limited means purchase tuxedos, rather than tails, since a tux is more versatile than a full dress rig.

    I think for the same reason, in the 30s, the so-called "semi-sport" suit became quite popular. Such suits could be worn in the country or in the city and not look out of place in either setting.
    Last edited by Guttersnipe; 01-03-2013 at 09:23 PM.
    Who says the golden era has to be tasteful and dignified?

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