Vintage View: Exploring a 1940′s High Schooler’s Home Ec Manual

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Vintage home ec book, Fabric & Dress, via the ModCloth Blog
Fabrics and Dress by Lucy Rathbone and Elizabeth Tarpley (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1943).

Have you ever wondered, “How should the high-school girl dress? Is your dress distinctive? Why do you wear undergarments?” These are just a few of the questions pondered in this delightful 1940s throwback hardback, Fabrics and Dress.  We recently uncovered this vintage home economics manual at the Prelinger Library, and just had to share some of the sage wisdom (and perhaps a little dated humor) contained within.

Covering a range of topics from proper dress to proper hygiene, it’s a wide window into the daily routines of yesteryear’s school girls. Have a look!

Vintage home ec book, Fabric & Dress, via the ModCloth Blog
Vintage home ec book, Fabric & Dress, via the ModCloth Blog

The book’s table of contents.

Vintage home ec book, Fabric & Dress, via the ModCloth Blog

Well, will you?

Vintage home ec book, Fabric & Dress, via the ModCloth Blog

Plaid taffeta or skirt & sweater combo — which was more appropriate for school? Any guesses?

Vintage home ec book, Fabric & Dress, via the ModCloth Blog

Vintage home ec book, Fabric & Dress, via the ModCloth Blog

Vintage home ec book, Fabric & Dress, via the ModCloth Blog

About Cindy

Pun intended. Cindy loves dreaming up witty quips and groan-worthy wordplay. In fact, you could say this girl just wants to have puns. As an avid fan of the written word and a librarian at heart, she also loves used bookstores, especially ones that harbor cats. Vintage clothing, cocktails, and ephemera are a few of her favorite things.

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10 Responses to Vintage View: Exploring a 1940′s High Schooler’s Home Ec Manual

  1. Lee 09/20/2013 at 11:24 am #

    Omg, I love this. The book looks awesome—I adore all the illustrations!

    Have got to check out the Prelinger Library.

  2. Catherine 09/20/2013 at 11:23 pm #

    wow! if i had this book from school i definitely would have kept it! Chapters 5 and 6 actually are very interesting.

  3. Charlotte Dunn 09/21/2013 at 10:29 am #

    The blonde girl in the top of the first picture looks exactly like Aurora in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty

  4. Pualani 09/24/2013 at 8:30 am #

    I think my favorite is Chapter 7: The Foundation of the Dress. As much as I love the fact that society has moved beyond teaching women how to be prim and proper, I would have considered taking this class, if only to discover my personal style before I reached college.

  5. Hattie 10/11/2013 at 7:04 pm #

    This is way too funny! I actually just bought this book TODAY at the Red Velvet (A Beautiful Mess) estate sale!

  6. Jessica Reidy 10/24/2013 at 12:46 pm #

    Reblogged this on jessicareidy and commented:
    This is magical! I’ve been researching style for women from the 1920s-1950s in Europe and America, and this book looks like so much fun. My favorite is “Will you laugh at this style in a year or two?”

  7. April 11/11/2013 at 10:03 am #

    How do I look at the whole book?

  8. Tanya 12/09/2013 at 7:01 am #

    this book is really cool. I would love to have this amy hands, but seeing it hires is awesome As well. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  9. Tina 12/21/2013 at 7:00 pm #

    I have this book actually. They were cleaning out a library ,and had this book and several similar type book in the give a way pile so my Daughter in law brought them to me. I loved looking at them and have become great conversation pieces , along with a time in history. They taught a girl everything she needed to know from , washing your hair , bathing , teeth , Make up. I personally think that was neat.

  10. Cathy 12/31/2013 at 2:50 pm #

    I wish I had a book like this when I was in junior high and high school! It probably would have helped me a lot through those “awkward” years!

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