Store Catalogs

Figure 1.--Store catalogs can be very helful in dating old photographs. These suits were being marketed by Butler in 1930-31.

Store catalogs give an excellent idea of what boys were wearing at different ages as they had to appeal to popular tastes. They also provide details on materials used. The photographs are useful to confirm that these fashions were actually worn as well as to indicate what hair styles and accessories such as hats, bows, collars, sashes, stocking and shoes were worn with the suits and other garments advertised. The fact that store catalogs are usually dated is especially helpful in establishing time lines and fashion trends.

HBC is including with the store catalogs nagazines like Delineator that were a mix of articles along with sheets of large numbers of patterns which could be purchased.

Store catalogs and store newspaper and magazine advertisements have to be carefully evaluated as they were aimed at specific sectors of the population, often affluent families. Also chain stores were not common yet, so the fashions could be regional. Even so an assessment of individual catalogs provides fascinating insights into boys fashions and trends.


Some background on the advertising industry is helpful to understanding store and other clothing advertisements. Commercial adverisement is not exclusive to the modern world. Mass adverising abd a dedicated industry, however, is a developent of the western world. It was only possible when printing costs fell and mass circulation newspapers developed. The industry began to appear in the mid-19th century. America led the way, however, HBC xstill had relatively limited information on Europe.

Individual Stores

Some information is available on advertisments placed by individual stores.

1885 Spring: Stern Brothers--Kilt suits

1889: Delineator--Fauntleroy suits

1890: Delineator--Dresses

1890: Delineator--Sailor suits

1890: Delineator--???

1890: Delineator--???

1930-31: Butler Company--Suits

1941 Fall: Roger Peet Company--Suit

Christopher Wagner

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Created: June 5, 2000
Last updated: January 2, 2001