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Window Shopping: 1943

Window Shopping: 1943

June 1943. Arlington, Virginia. "Ordering clothes from a mail order house at Idaho Hall, Arlington Farms, a residence for women who work for the U.S. government for the duration of the war." Photo by Esther Bubley. View full size.


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A glance at the date of the photo explains the lady's state of undress. It's probably in the 90s, with humidity to match.

Until mid-20th Century, when air conditioning began to proliferate, personnel assigned to Her Britannic Majesty's Embassy in Washington drew the same hardship allowance as they would in Calcutta or Freetown.

Drapes and bedspread

The photo reminds me of my two years spent at the Barbizon Hotel for Women in NYC. Every few months our so, the staff changed out our drapes and bedspreads in patterns very much like seen in the picture.

Window shopping

Looks like she should also be shopping for drapes


Ironic that Spiegel, Sears, and Montgomery Wards were close to today's Amazon business model of ordering at home. Growing up it was also fun to thumb through the pages of mail order catalogs. If only they had managed to hang on until Jeff Bezos and the internet had shown up.

Perhaps Madame would be interested

in something from the "Rosie the Riveter" collection?

Hope they have overnight shipping

The poor girl literally doesn't have a thing to wear and she certainly cannot go to work like that. The old vintage chenille robe hanging on the curtain rod was the norm in the forties. I don't think girls even wear slips anymore but nowadays that would pass for a dress. As for catalogs, what boy doesn't remember looking at the ladies' underwear pictures in Sears and Wards mail order selections when Mom wasn't looking? It was a rite of passage.

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