The slogan for McCall’s Patterns in the mid-1950s was “Make the clothes that make the woman.” The advertising campaign with this slogan shows two identical women, one dressed in McCall’s pattern pieces, the other in the finished garment. It’s a charming campaign from the Golden Age of Advertising. Here’s a selection, in roughly chronological order:
This ad from 1956 shows the model enjoying a fresh strawberry at a party. (Could it be a strawberry social?) The pattern is McCall’s 3562:
The September ad shows Dovima on a trip to Paris, before a mustachioed gendarme. The pattern is McCall’s 3785 by Givenchy:
Another travel-themed ad shows McCall’s 3790 with some whimsically stacked luggage:
This 1957 ad featuring McCall’s 3952 shows a well-dressed tug-of-war:
This Valentine’s Day-themed ad appeared in Vogue’s March 1957 issue. (The pattern is McCall’s 3967.) The model is Suzy Parker:
This spring ad shows McCall’s 4046 by James Galanos:
In the ad for May 1957, the binocular-wielding model wears an “Instant” dress, McCall’s 4070:
This late summer ad looks forward to fall’s collegiate sports games. The design is by Claire McCardell, McCall’s 4208:
Within its variations on the playfully presented scene of leisure, the campaign conveys a visual reminder of one of McCall’s long-standing technologies: the printed pattern. (McCall’s had been producing printed patterns since the 1920s, whereas Vogue only introduced printed patterns in 1956—later outside North America.) Have you seen other ads from this McCall’s campaign?
26 thoughts on “Make the Clothes that Make the Woman”
What a great campaign, and it’s nice to see so many variations of the theme. The ‘trip to Paris’ ad featuring the Givenchy design reminds me very much of the photo-shoot scene in the film ‘Funny Face’ from about the same time.
You know, I wondered about a “Funny Face” connection. The film was released in February 1957, but maybe back then they already had advance coverage..
This is so clever! I LOVE it!
What a great ad campaign- I love the “Instant” dress, McCall’s 4070…I think it could be an appropriate saying for today as well, especially for us sewists that make our clothing! Thanks for sharing! ~Laurie
This ad campaign is SO CLEVER! It definitely gets my attention. Thanks for sharing.
I love this ad campaign too! I’ve seen the tug of war one but not the others…I particularly love the fitted red dress and the collegiate ad! Good ol’ McCalls…
Such tiny waists! Clever ads.Thanks
Great pictures! And now I desperately want the ‘instant’ dress
So clever, so classy! Thanks for sharing this really interesting bit of history; the designs are wonderful. Actually, it’s a truly inspired advertising concept, because it allows one to visually bridge the space between the flat pattern and final product. Also, thanks for stopping by my RemnantWorks shop on Etsy and leaving a favorite. Nice! 🙂
Thanks for the reblog, Kerri!
Reblogged this on sewville and commented:
Take a look at this wonderful ad campaign from the 1950’s from PatternVault. It’s delicious!
Thanks for sharing this. They are wonderful 🙂
Love the interesting seaming in many of these although I wouldn’t relish making pattern adjustments to fit to me!
I loved this too! A great bit of history and I would love the clothes for real!
Great post! Thanks for sharing. The campaign is genius; I wish McCalls would do a campaign with the same theme today!
I love western fashion history, and own a McCalls Pattern publication from the 1930s. and 1953. I think Vogue Patterns were printing much earlier than the ’50s since I have their “leaflets” from February 15 and March 15 1930.
Enjoyed this post and am sharing it on Facebook.
Thanks! You’re right, Vogue was already in the pattern business in the 1930s—but until the mid-1950s their patterns were “unprinted”: blank tissue marked with perforations.
Those old leaflets are lovely, aren’t they?
Reblogged this on threadtime and commented:
I just tripped over this post at PatternVault and had to share. Love this vintage look and how the basic pattern lines are shown. Hope you enjoy, Ramona.
Thanks for the reblog, Ramona!
so clever and eye-catching. I love 50s design
Agreed also! the designs are very eye- catching and reminiscent of an era not easily forgotten.
Thanks for sharing Kerri 🙂
Hi Sarah! Glad to ‘ad’ a new one featuring model Jean Patchett to your collection & see this gallery of top 50s models all in one place 🙂