Unveiling 1915 Spring Fashion Through Mail Order

Today in the 21st Century, we have several options for shopping. Two options that might immediately come to mind are visiting stores to shop in person or ordering online from home. But one nearly forgotten option is the mail order catalog. With the availability of the internet, we might not receive these as frequently as in the past, but browsing the Trade Literature Collection reveals mail ordering has been around for quite some time.

The Follies and Fashions of our Grandfathers.

If only my grandfather were this fashionable! This handsome book shows off 19th century ladies and gentlemen dressing for such sartorial activities as morning walking, evening dinner, riding in a carriage, sitting in a drawing room, and “Court dress for her majesty’s birthday.” Each plate is hand-colored with the addition of gold and silver. The Smithsonian Libraries and Archives' copy is bound in the original board and suede, with linen labels, and a beautiful embroidered bookmark bound within to mark your favorite satirical story.

A Century of Shoes

This marvelous book puts its best foot forward, covering everything from profiles of famous contemporary shoe designers like Manolo Blahnik to historical insights and images of changing fashions in footwear. Platforms, boots, stilettos, sandals, and slippers – this book has them all. Volumes like this in the Costume collection at the National Museum of American History Library help clothing curators study shoes in the museum collections, but they also are used by other researchers to date artworks and photographs based on what the people pictured are wearing.

Les Robes de Paul Poiret

The popularity of the French fashion plate was revitalized in the early part of the 20th century by artists like Paul Iribe (1883-1935), working with fashion designers such as Paul Poiret. These illustrations were hand colored using the pochoir process, whereby stencils and metal plates are used allowing for colors to be built up according to the artist's vision. The fashion plate, in use for some time, was in essence an advertising tool—a piece of artwork used to create desire for the latest styles aimed at an audience of the fashionable and moneyed.