1960s · 20th century · Saturday Sartorial Cinema

Saturday Sartorial Cinema 1: The $20 Miracle [Dress]

I often forget that I don’t just have to post about what I’m studying and making, but that I can share all the interesting and educational media I come across as well.

One place I frequent to find videos about fashion and dress history is Youtube. There are a few channels which regularly post older (pre-1990s) videos, which tend to be my favorites. This one was posted by Old TV Time.

I haven’t found a credible source dating the video, but based on the fashions it appears to be the mid-to-late 1960s. The business they film is in New York City, but they don’t state if the exterior shots are also in New York City. Can anyone tell based on the buildings or signs?

What You Can Expect to See and Learn While Watching

  • A brief but fairly accurate (to my knowledge) history of the democratization of fashion.
  • A couple of statistics on the value of the market segment as well as the average number of new dresses a woman in America purchased annually.
  • A series of shots of window displays of clothing in a city (possibly NYC).
  • Promotional propaganda about America’s relationship with cotton and clothing.
  • An inside look at how the firm Sue Brett designs (led by Jack Baker) a dress through to market. This includes shots of sketching designs, draping, grading, stitching, rotary cutting and other use of mass production technology.
  • Shots of men and women in office work clothes.
  • A little bit of textile science history of cotton and its dyeing and finishes.
  • A short history of the development of mass production of clothing, ready-to-wear, and accompanying technology.
  • The relationship between a firm like and buyers and fashion editors.
  • The early development of computer programs to try to predict fashion trends.

Food for Thought After Viewing

  • $20 USD in 1965 is roughly equivalent to $164 USD today. That’s $738 for 4.5 dresses.
  • “And among the unalienable rights of sixty-million odd women today is the right to be well-dressed! In pursuit of this ideal, they spend annually 16 billion on their wardrobes and each hangs four and one half new dresses in her closet.”
  • The men and women shown are in an office workplace. What can one observe about the dress code of the time at Sue Brett?
  • “Since the day’s of Godey’s Lady’s Book, fashion editors have been selling her on the idea of new clothes, better clothes, more clothes. They’ve taught her what to wear and how to wear it. But despite the cry of some, editors cannot make fashion, for fashion changes are never arbitrary but rather reflect the temper of the times.”

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