depression-era aprons

While browsing at a local antique store I came across an 8-page newsprint flyer from the S. B. McCain & Son department store in Rush, PA. Called Facts and Fashions and dated April 1932, it's an interesting glimpse into depression era products and prices. In amongst the products for sale (everything from silk stockings and synthetic pearls to baby creepers and wave combs) are several small columns about fashion trends...

Fashion has the BLUES! Navy blue, bright light blue, chalky blue....wear them plain or combine them with white!

T'will be a White Summer! You had better prepare early with an extra box of soap flakes for this summer will be "whiter" than ever—plain or combined with color.

and housecleaning tips...

Don't throw away old wide mouth glass bottles. Use them as handy icebox bottles for protecting food.

An ordinary dish mop—well oiled—cleans out dust from coil bed springs in a jiffy.

Most of you won't remember ice boxes or beds with coiled springs. I'm not that old either but I remember those things from my grandmothers house.

I really bought the flyer for the beautiful black and white line drawings, and I'll show you some of the aprons today.

pickford apron

The Pickford Apron, which I believe is named for Mary Pickford, the silent film star who wore an apron in the film "My Best Girl" where she played a five-and-ten cent shopgirl who falls in love with the owner's son.

And the Hoover Apron, which wraps around and ties in the front and is more like a housedress than an apron. Named for Herbert Hoover, who was in charge of the FDA during and after WW1, and was elected President during the depression. His wife may have invented the apron—the story isn't very clear.

hoover apron

29 cents and 69 cents for an apron seems cheap to us now, but I'm sure women found this expensive at the time. I know that many women in the area served by this department store (rural and dotted with farms and small towns) must have sewn their own aprons and clothing. There are other ads within the flyer for fabric and sewing notions (which I'll post at another time)—perhaps they found inspiration from the drawings and came up with their own unique designs.


Carla said...

I love these aprons! It's so funny to see the difference between the real Mary Pickford, who was tiny, and the illustration of "her" apron — with the typical elongated look of high fashion prints.

Anonymous said...

I love that hoover apron. I need one of those! When I cook or craft I tend to get stuff EEEEEVerywhere, and not on purpose!

Niesz Vintage Home said...

I love old flyers and advertisements. I have a few Wards and Sears catalogs from the 40s and 50s, too.
They're a great for age reference.

Hey, I could really use one of those Hoover aprons. LOL

Kimberly :)

Oh, and thank you for the link in your Monogram post!!!

Beth said...

Those aprons are fabulous! I don't think I've seen any from that era before. Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

would you have ANY idea where to find a pattern for this? the ones that i remember had three armholes - arms thru the first two, the apron wraps around the back and the last armhole you put your left arm through and the whole thing was like a dress.

thanks for any help


janet said...

Robyn, I would probably try looking on Ebay, but there are several good websites that sell vintage patterns. You may not find what you're looking for right away but keep checking back because their inventories will change over time.

Rivka the Storyteller said...

The Hoover apron was popular in the 20s long beore Hoover became president. It might have been named after him for his popular and publicized work as administrator for the Food Administration during WWI.