French Mail Order Catalogs and Advertisements for Boys Clothings: Accuracy of Information

Figure 1.--This "Modes et travaux" page from October 1941 shows styles for younger French children during World War II. The title reads, "de jolis ensembles pour nos petits". That would translate as "fun outfits for our little ones".

Some care should be used in assessing the informatin in these pages. We believe that the mail order catalogs and periodical store advertisements are probably the most accurate indivators that a particular garment and style was actually worn by the average French boy. They represented ads for garments that were actually sold and made in some quantity. Companies could loose a lot of money or go out of business if their merchansize did not reflect populat tastes. Thus when a particular garment are styles has appeared over several years or in different sources than this is a good indicator that it was indeed commonly worn. The sewing magazines had an element of fashion magazines about them. Mothers may have liked seeing the fashions illustrated even if they did not make and wear them. There was no great loss to the company if a pattern did not prove popular as there was no inventory of garments. Even here, however, a fashion magazine like Modes et travaux would not continue popular if their pattterns did not include many that mothers could actually make and use. In addition the sewing magazine can be compared to stores actuallu offering garments for confirmation that the patterns offered accurately reflected what was being worn.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: December 5, 2001
Last updated: December 5, 2001