Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Ads You’re Not Going to See Again Anytime Soon – Chapter 5
 


Ads You’re Not Going to See Again Anytime Soon – Chapter 5

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 26, 2008

From various LDS publications, 1920s-1940s. Please exercise discretion in comments.


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53 Comments

  1. Exercising discretion in my comments on these ads renders me basically speechless.

    Comment by Researcher — August 26, 2008 @ 6:28 am

  2. These are great, Ardis.

    My first question is about the difference between “Ribb” and “Flat” for women. I don’t think I’ll ask the exact question, but it seems like it would be embarrassing to order the “Flat” garments, especially where that word is used at the end of the description. (“Extra Quality Flat” just sounds worse than “Flat Weave Light”.)

    Also, why is wool only a male option?

    “Get a Fine Rubber Apron FREE.” Oh, goody!

    “Get an order from your friends and neighbors?” We’re not in Kansas anymore.

    “66” – At least it’s not “666”.

    “LDS Approved Garments” – As opposed to “Methodist Approved Garments”.

    An ad showing a woman wearing just garments? Rayon Silk Underwear (Bloomers and Slips) for men and boys? – We really do live in a different age!

    Comment by Ray — August 26, 2008 @ 7:01 am

  3. New/old style? Don’t know the details, but I can guess.

    Marked for .25/pair? Got that.

    Double back? I don’t even want to ask.

    Comment by Mark B. — August 26, 2008 @ 7:03 am

  4. I’m trying to figure out the “double back,” too — I don’t know whether that is upper or lower back, or both. I *can* help poor ol’ Ray with his concern over “rib” vs. “flat.” Rather than being a comment on the wearer, those terms refer to weave of the fabric — rib is knit with a stretchy, thicker texture (think: cuffs on mittens, only much finer, of course), while flat is just that, smooth and with little to no stretch.

    Researcher, you’re free to be slightly indiscrete if it will restore your powers of speech!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 26, 2008 @ 7:57 am

  5. I’m trying to imagine somebody canvassing the neighborhood for garment orders in order to qualify for the prize. I just can’t.

    I did not know that you used to be able to buy unmarked garments.

    Silk striped? I wonder if that was an attempt at style and embellishment on the slippery slop to fine-twined linens, or just a description of the material? I cannot envision striped garments.

    Most of the ads say they guarantee a good fit. Either they were lying, or our manufacturing processes have gone downhill in the meantime.

    And the picture of the woman modelling her garments is priceless. Now I know why the Brethren at that time counselled against artificial birth control. A woman dressed like that would certainly keep my libido in check, and no further measures would be necessary.

    (Ardis, if anything in this comment has crossed a line, please delete it.)

    Comment by Mark IV — August 26, 2008 @ 8:09 am

  6. Wow! This is even better than the marketing competition for sacrament trays!

    Comment by Steve C. — August 26, 2008 @ 8:38 am

  7. So when did the field narrow to just a single supplier?
    This was all obviously pre-zipper, but the reference to “strings” as opposed to “buttons” is new to me.

    Comment by BruceC — August 26, 2008 @ 8:48 am

  8. I believe the double back was for men’s bottoms, as they have a bit more flexibility in the way they use the facilities.

    The old v. new styles shifted in 1923, when the Grant administration approved shortening them to above the knee and elbow (along with a couple of stylistic changes).

    I wonder when the Church moved away from privatized manufacturing with the “authorized pattern” to completely Church-owned production. I can’t remember where, but I remember reading about a manufacturer in Sanpete that made a peculiar knit version and got approval once back in the day, and that they kept making it even though the styles had shifted quite a bit.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 26, 2008 @ 8:52 am

  9. Well, here goes. My order is as follows: I’ll take the items in orchid (what!?! not available in anything but white!?!). Short sleeve, three quarter leg (there go my knee-length shorts; the bus stop moms who can’t deal with the fact that I don’t wear shorts will start teasing again). Woman. Height: 5’2″ Bust: ahem. Weight: normal. Imported lisle. Can anyone recommend one manufacturer over another?

    (Does that qualify as indiscrete?)

    (But perhaps I should wait ten or twenty years to order until what’s-her-name designs the new garments [the swimsuit woman with the white carpets].)

    Comment by Researcher — August 26, 2008 @ 8:58 am

  10. I didn’t notice this before, but there is a note saying we should indicate whether it is for a “Man, Lady, Boy, or Girl.” I am assuming this is because they sold other types of underwear too. Or maybe not, I do have an ancestor who had her endowments at age 13. Though on the temple register she claimed to be 14.

    Comment by BruceC — August 26, 2008 @ 9:06 am

  11. Re #7 – strings, rather than buttons, were used in some styles to tie the front of the union suit closed.

    Comment by Paul — August 26, 2008 @ 10:11 am

  12. Paul – Thanks for the clarification. I “gathered” as much. I thought it might be a precursor to elastic. But in the context of the one piece style that didn’t make sense. “Seams” like the strings would be a lot more work, however.

    It reminded me of a joke an older brother in my stake once made. At a Boy Scout camp one young non-member boy noticed the pattern of zipper underneath the older man’s shirt. When asked what it was he quickly responded “You know how some people have belly buttons? Well, I have a zipper.”

    Comment by BruceC — August 26, 2008 @ 10:51 am

  13. I am afraid to say anything lest a lightning bolt hit….Power just went off:)…I am just glad we have the 2 piecers……those one piecers were constantly crawling! Maybe the double back reduced that tendency…..

    Comment by Mike K — August 26, 2008 @ 11:25 am

  14. I meant Rose Marie Reid in comment 9.

    Comment by Researcher — August 26, 2008 @ 11:42 am

  15. “I believe the double back was for men’s bottoms, as they have a bit more flexibility in the way they use the facilities.”

    Men’s bottoms are more flexible? (I know, but the wording . . .)

    Comment by Ray — August 26, 2008 @ 1:07 pm

  16. Having just wandered past it on an old movie channel, I must tell you that it’s “Indiscreet.”

    (Discrete has to do with being separate and distinct, discreet with saying “ahem” at the proper time. (At least it wasn’t “alas!”)

    As to the ties, there was a time, not so long ago, when attending the temple meant a total change of clothing. The Hawaii Temple, when I was at the LTM (that’s Language Training Mission) in fall 1973 had the non-zipper, non-button version, long sleeves and legs (as all were in those days) with string ties up the front. They weren’t that much slower than a long row of buttons.

    Researcher, you’re going to have to wait for the resurrection for Miss Reid to design those unmentionables for you. She died in 1978. And how did you know about the white carpets?? She moved into our neighborhood (broadly defined) in the late 1960s, in a house that didn’t have a square corner–lots of polygonal rooms, where poly was not equal to four. And I vaguely recall some really long shag carpet, some of which may have been white.

    Comment by Mark B. — August 26, 2008 @ 1:27 pm

  17. Well, since I can’t purchase these garments now, I would have to go back to the 1920s-1940s to order them. (Spare me from the fashions of that era, though. Shudder. Right up there with the 1970s.) In order to get the new, updated Rose Marie Reid styles, I would have to move ahead 10 or 20 years to the 1950s. (Is that convoluted-enough thinking? It would require the minor inconvenience of locating a time machine.*)

    If you read the link in #14, there was a brief discussion of the fashion update during the McKay administration and the white carpet.

    Thanks for the explanation on discretion. I’ll remember to be discreet any time I mention “unmentionables.”

    *By the way, if I did have a time machine, I would not use it for the purposes outlined in the first paragraph.

    Comment by Researcher — August 26, 2008 @ 2:27 pm

  18. The change in Garment use in the temple occurred, if I remember correctly in 1979.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 26, 2008 @ 3:19 pm

  19. Uh, is a “double back” like the church’s “down and back” wagon trains of the 1860s? Ray,now you know where the label “Auntie Audacious” was earned.

    Comment by Bill MacKinnon — August 26, 2008 @ 3:38 pm

  20. Oh, my.

    Comment by Kaimi — August 26, 2008 @ 5:57 pm

  21. Was it that late? I could have sworn it was a decade earlier. So one piece until 1979? God bless Pres. Kimball.

    I will say this. When I was skiing the old garments were great. They were hard to find though. Plus now if you have them people think you’re apostate.

    Comment by Clark — August 26, 2008 @ 6:57 pm

  22. BTW – I know you used to be able to buy patterns and make your own. Anyone know when that was disallowed? (I was looking for thermal garments and my SP actually just said go sew the marks in some I got from REI since they went to ankle and wrist anyway)

    Comment by Clark — August 26, 2008 @ 6:58 pm

  23. No one’s mentioned the happy, smiling faces in the advertisement for The Reliable company. (I mean the morose middle-aged gents, not Mark IV’s libido-suppressing dame.)

    I’m wondering if the men are supposed to give the aura of your saintly neighborhood bishop or stake president. I hope they’re not someone’s great-grandpa (or great-great grandpa in the case of younger readers of Keepapitchinin), because you’d think they would tend to scare off customers.

    Comment by Researcher — August 26, 2008 @ 7:07 pm

  24. It doesn’t show in the way I’ve displayed them here, but one thing I got a kick out of was that on a single page of the RS magazine there could be ads for three competing companies. That, as much as the mere existence of the ads, is what is most incongruous to me.

    Until at least the early 1970s, garments were sold at selected retail stores, at least in communities with sizable Mormon populations. I remember going with my mother to get my 7th grade gym suit at JCPenney in a northern California town (population 7,000; one Mormon ward) and my mother picking up some garments there on the same trip.

    I don’t have answers to most of the other wheres and whens and hows raised here, but it’s the kind of thing I’m alert to should I ever see documentation. And thanks for the responsible handling of humor and discussion.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 26, 2008 @ 7:15 pm

  25. Researcher, those sober miens are exactly what I would expect — I mean, don’t you think that Fine Rubber Aprons deserve the serious poses? The merchants have to be sombre to balance out the giddiness of customers. Yeah, I’m sure that’s it.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 26, 2008 @ 7:18 pm

  26. Just checked, Clark. 1979 for two-piece; 1975 for temple use of the post-1923 style. The recent Kimball Bio (mss on CD-ROM) has a brief overview.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 26, 2008 @ 7:23 pm

  27. I’m pretty sure two-piece garments were introduced in 1980. I had just been transferred to my last mission area.

    Mark (#5), they could guarantee a good fit because they only had one-piece garments. I’ve never met a two-piece garment that comes even close to fitting properly.

    Clark (#21): Thankfully, they sell one-piece until at least 2008. I dread the day they quit making them. When that happens, perhaps I’ll be able to get some from one of these fine retailers. Or maybe the Methodists make them?

    Comment by Left Field — August 26, 2008 @ 8:47 pm

  28. Double Back = Double Lining In the Back. Makes them wear better, especially on a a saddle, also less friction.

    FYI – $2 in 1920 was about $22-23 today, $2 in 1940 would be about 30 dollars today. (Yes the the trend was deflating!) $12 for silk garments would be $120 to $180 today! Just goes to show the declining cost of real goods.
    By Comparison in 1924 a Chevrolet Superior Roadster would cost $490.00 (today’s dollars -$ 5500). Eggs – A quarter a doz. ($2.50) A house – 3-10k. (30-100k)

    Comment by Ola Senor — August 26, 2008 @ 10:24 pm

  29. Anyone know what color “nile” is? I’m assuming those were just the silk underwear color options but I could be wrong. Anything about garment production outside the U.S.? The ones I saw produced in Chile during the 90’s were, unfortunately, quite inferior.

    Comment by Caryn — August 26, 2008 @ 11:48 pm

  30. And boy, custom made? That sounds worth it!

    Comment by Caryn — August 26, 2008 @ 11:50 pm

  31. I still have a couple pair of the old “temple” garments (which I do not wear!). My BYU roommate and I had gone down to Cedar City ~1977-8 for the Shakespearean festival and went through the St. George temple. They had free “temple” garments on a table in the dressing room for anyone to take because they were being phased out in favor of what then were known as “street” garments. The difference is that the “temple” garments are a one-piece affair split down the front with ties to close them.

    Comment by manaen — August 27, 2008 @ 1:55 am

  32. Left Field, I know they sell them but they used to be rather hard to find. (Actually I’ve not tried to pick them up since they got that new nice distribution center here in Provo)

    Comment by Clark — August 27, 2008 @ 2:05 am

  33. BTW – they also used to sell extra short bottoms. I think they were originally intended for the Japanese market. But I have a couple of them. They are a bit higher above the knee and can actually be worn with shorts. Unfortunately both of mine are near the end of their life and I’ve never seen any that short for sale in years.

    Comment by Clark — August 27, 2008 @ 2:06 am

  34. #32: I haven’t been able to get one-piece from a distribution center in probably ten years, though I’d guess there must be someplace in Salt Lake where you can just walk in and get them. I get all mine by mail order, but that’s really the most convenient way to purchase garments anyway. However, that doesn’t stop me from asking for one-piece garments every time I’m at a distribution center. I don’t want them to be able to tell Salt Lake that nobody ever asks for them. I’m sure we one-piece wearers represent an ever-diminishing market. I don’t know how much longer they can justify making them.

    The two-piece garments were introduced maybe eight months before I returned from my mission. My parents sent me a pair, but they were a real novelty in my mission, and still hard to come by. Other missionaries always asked to see what they looked like. When the two-piece garments became available, there was a limit of how many you could purchase at a time, and you had to stand in a long line. The night before I went home I spent in the mission home, along with the incoming missionaries. For some reason, another elder and I went to the room where the incoming missionaries were getting ready for bed. We stared with mouth agape. Every one of them had two-piece garments. I guess that should have been an indication that one-piece would be on their way out.

    When I got home from my mission, I wore two-piece for a few years. But then I figured out that the emperor had no clothes. They didn’t fit, they weren’t comfortable. I just wore them because conventional wisdom said they were the latest, greatest thing. I went back to the one-piece and now only wear two-piece now when I go to the doctor.

    I suppose that few people who were endowed since 1980 have ever tried the one-piece, so I always recommend them to anyone who complains about how uncomfortable their garments are.

    #5: I don’t remember ever being able to buy unmarked garments, but when I was a missionary, the distribution center used to have them for soon-to-be endowed customers to try on for size. Do they still do that?

    Comment by Left Field — August 27, 2008 @ 6:57 am

  35. Left Field: Unfortunately, the one-piecers are going the way of the dinosaurs. My older brother, who left on his mission just prior to the introduction of the two-piecers, continued to wear the one-piece model for years. Incidently, just before he got married, his fiance pulled me aside and ask if I could persuade my brother to switch to the two-piecers. I think he did finally convert to the two-piecers, but still sports the one-piecers once in a while.

    Ardis (#24): I’m glad that you mentioned the retailers who sold temple garments. My father worked for a JC Penney store in Arizona. They sold garments there (late 1950s/early 1960s). He said they had a problem with it because, according to him, Catholic nuns would buy the long-sleeves/long-legs models to wear under their habits. I don’t know if that is truth or an urban legend that circulated.

    This has been a fun and interesting discussion.

    Comment by Steve C. — August 27, 2008 @ 7:21 am

  36. The one-piece’s comfort and fit work better for me too. When I ordered the ankle-length, button-front version a few months ago, it was out of stock at the time, but a few weeks later it arrived.

    Back around 1980, it came up somehow in a visit that my home teaching companion’s mother made his undershirts. I thought that was a very unusual clothing item to home-manufacture, and also unusual for a woman to continue providing clothes items for a married son in his 30s. At the time, I didn’t even know what garments were, and looking back, that’s probably what my companion was talking about.

    Comment by John Mansfield — August 27, 2008 @ 7:29 am

  37. #29 Nile is a light shade of green. It is a slightly yellowish green, but not very yellow. It is rather in vogue right now. You might see it in the Martha Stewart line or Amy Butler fabrics.

    Here is one sample that seems accurate (hope the link doesn’t expire too quickly; it’s the best I could find). Some samples I found were more of a camouflage brown-green, which it clearly was not.

    The 1922 discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb started a huge world-wide obsession with all things Egyptian and I imagine that the offering of underwear in far-off Utah in “nile” would have reflected this fad.

    (Orchid would still be my choice of those five colors. It would be a light pinkish-purple. It is a more common color, since there are ten shades of orchid in the HTML colors [#DA70D6 or #B048B5 or #D462FF]. If you google “orchid color” you can see any number of samples.)

    Comment by Researcher — August 27, 2008 @ 7:56 am

  38. Here’s my Top Ten reasons to wear one-piece garments.

    Comment by Left Field — August 27, 2008 @ 8:10 am

  39. ha nice finds, Ardis.

    Comment by BHodges — August 27, 2008 @ 3:10 pm

  40. Thanks, Researcher.

    Comment by Caryn Mouritsen Cherry — August 27, 2008 @ 6:22 pm

  41. I would swear that the two-piece garments were introduced no later than 1978 (when I graduated from BYU). I remember my good friend and fellow CS undergrad Mark Savon commenting that this established once and for all that it was OK to take off your garments during sex, since the two-piece women’s garments no longer provided, ah, access.

    Neither he nor I personally believed that there was any issue about it (we were both happily married), but there were a lot of folks in Utah — including married students at BYU — who were sure that you weren’t allowed to remove your garments for sex. Of course, there were also persistent apocryphal stories of Mormons (usually older, string-tied garment types) who would bathe or shower while holding onto their garments with one hand.

    Mark and I did have occasional contact after I graduated in ’78 and moved away, so it’s always possible this was some follow-up conversation a year or two later. But it sure seems to me that this happened while we were both still at BYU. ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — August 27, 2008 @ 7:53 pm

  42. #40–Caryn–You’re welcome. (I’m always happy to look something up.)

    Here’s a very short article which mentions nile green and the influence of Egyptology on 1920s fashion. Clothing from that decade also pulled in influences from ancient Greece and WWI military uniforms. Top designers from this era included Charles Worth, Coco Chanel, Madeline Vionnet, and Paul Pioret and their influence filtered down to the masses.

    It’s not insanity
    Says Vanity Fair
    In fact, it’s stylish to
    Raise your skirts and bob your hair…

    What we think is chic, unique and quite adorable
    They think is odd and “Sodom and Gomorrah”-ble!
    But the fact is
    Everything today is thoroughly modern…

    Men say it’s criminal what women’ll do
    What they’re forgetting is
    This is 1922!
    [Thoroughly Modern Millie]

    This period saw immensely dramatic changes in women’s clothing that were echoed by the change in garment design in 1923 as J. Stapley noted in comment 8.

    We saw some of these styles in Ardis’ posts of church members around the world with the women wearing simple, straight dresses. It was very much a contrast to anything from the previous decades and I imagine that the switch to shorter garment styles must have caused heartburn in many a devoted Saint.

    Comment by Researcher — August 27, 2008 @ 8:04 pm

  43. I left on my mission in October 1978. I recall first hearing of 2-piece garments (and reading an announcement in the Church News)after I arrived in my last area in January 1980. J. Stapley (#18 and 26)gives a 1979 date and cites the SWK biography. Perhaps approval was given in 1979, but it was not until 1980 that two-piece garments had actually been manufactured, announced, and offered for sale. That could explain the discrepancy in the 1979-1980 dates. But 1978 definitely seems too early to me.

    I remember having a conversation with my companion (it would have been sometime early in 1980) in which I gave my opinion that, given the garment changes that had occurred in the past, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see two-piece garments. I thought I was suggesting a pretty radical idea, but apparently, my companion had already heard that two-piece garments would be available. Sure enough, the next batch of back issues of the Church News (they saved them up and gave them to us at zone conferences) had the announcement.

    Comment by Left Field — August 27, 2008 @ 10:20 pm

  44. Wow, Ardis. You do deliver, don’t you? :) It’s so interesting to see how much some things have changed.

    FYI – $2 in 1920 was about $22-23 today, $2 in 1940 would be about 30 dollars today. (Yes the the trend was deflating!) $12 for silk garments would be $120 to $180 today! Just goes to show the declining cost of real goods.

    The prices amazed me. Makes me feel like we get a pretty good deal these days. (All the more so thanks to Pres. Hinckley!)

    Comment by m&m — August 27, 2008 @ 10:52 pm

  45. Regarding dates: it was sometime after October 1979 and before August 1980 that the announcement of the change got to the Hyde Park Branch in Chicago. We had three different branch presidents in our three years in Chicago, and I was an assistant clerk or executive secretary during the third year, which put me in the PEC meeting where the Branch President came in and announced that “we could get a suntan and be half righteous.”

    Neither of the previous BPs would have come up with that line.

    Comment by Mark B. — August 28, 2008 @ 8:04 am

  46. An article in the Ensign dates the approval of the two-piece garment as December 15, 1979.

    Comment by Justin — August 29, 2008 @ 11:41 am

  47. Good job Justin. Now go track down the dates that the different proxy ordinances were “separated”. Thanks! :-)

    Comment by Mark B. — August 29, 2008 @ 11:52 am

  48. Hurray! Justin’s back! (Remember that commercial for Life cereal? I feel like Mikey’s brother, saying “Let’s ask Justin! He can find everything!”)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 29, 2008 @ 1:47 pm

  49. Wow, that’s quite the welcome back. “Separated” as in the ordinances could be performed in any order or are you referring to something else?

    Comment by Justin — August 29, 2008 @ 5:29 pm

  50. I’m traveling, so can’t double check, but I thought that change in sequence was discussed in the Kimball bio…if it is not there, I’ll have to dig, but I seem to remember that it was somewhat controversial and there was some evolution over several years, back to the McKay years. Though I have September 29, 1975 in my notes for the final decision.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 29, 2008 @ 5:58 pm

  51. Justin, I think Mark B. means the change from serving as proxy for one person for all work (except perhaps baptism) on one day, to today’s way of doing the first steps for 5 or 10 people in a half hour’s time, then returning at later dates to complete the work one name at a time.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 29, 2008 @ 6:13 pm

  52. Re 51, got it now.

    Re 50, yes, I understand the timing of that particular change in similar terms.

    Comment by Justin — August 29, 2008 @ 10:09 pm

  53. Thanks for the general discretion in this discussion. I’ll refer you to comments added to the post of 29 August for further information on the last few comments (although we’ve called a halt there to further discussion of that topic). And since we’ve said all there probably is to say about the novelty of seeing printed ads like this, I’m closing discussion here.

    Always fun to see who we were and where we’ve been, isn’t it?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 30, 2008 @ 9:37 am