Walk the Runway with Retro St. Louis Fashions

Just because it’s Fashion Week in New York, that doesn’t mean we can’t have our own fashion show here in St. Louis.  From its offices on the lower level of a former Famous-Barr department store, Modern Graphic History Library presents a runway of retro St. Louis fashions.

Empire lines were all the rage in 1956, and this stylish black and white silk sheath dress underscored with a red-velvet ribbon will definitely attract attention.  From Famous-Barr for only $55.


Ad from the March 20, 1956 St. Louis Globe Democrat.  From Dressvertising Weekly, March 30, 1956.

Here’s a 1950’s silk crepe ensemble from Vanderwoort’s.  Styles available in black, navy, or purple, with rhinestone or satin buttons, velvet bows, and silk taille jacket trim.  Prices range from $29.98 to $49.95.  One can also see these models at Vanderwoort’s tea room, daily from noon to 1 p.m.

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Ad from the October 6, 1957 St. Louis Globe Democrat.  From Dressvertising Weekly, October 18, 1957.

This 1950s capelet capped sheath, from Famous-Barr, is perfect for an evening out. This “slim shaft of textured silk” with its caplet dipping in the back to the waste will be stunning whether you choose black or “vanilla.”  Only $89.98.

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Ad from the March 12, 1957 St. Louis Globe Democrat.  From Dressvertising Weekly, March 22, 1957.

For those wanting a night a dancing, check out these waltz-length silk chiffons from Famous-Barr.  These dreamlike jeweled dresses will lightly float on the dance floor.  Available in black and white or silver and white for $79.95.

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Ad from the December 15, 1952 St. Louis Globe Democrat.  From Dressvertising Weekly, December 26, 1952.

You’re sure to stand out in this delightful 1960s striped silk dress from Montaldo’s.  It’s available only in navy and white for $225.

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Ad from the March 19, 1961 St. Louis Post Dispatch.  From Dressvertising Weekly, March 31, 1961.

Style and practicality were never so easy as with this 1960s coat and dress combination.  Choose to wear the silk and rayon coat with its eye-catching print lining with either a solid-colored dress or with the dress matching the coat lining.  Available in beige or green at Styx, Baer & Fuller for only $42.

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Ad from the March 11, 1969 St. Louis Globe Democrat.  From Dressvertising Weekly, March 28, 1969.

For a 1970s tailored-look, check out these wool tweed jacket and dress combinations from Thomas W. Garland’s.  Choose a single-breasted high belted coat or a bolero jacket.  Colors range from black and white to navy, green, and gold, to solid brown.  Available from $130 – $166, depending on style.

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Ad from the September 20, 1970 St. Louis Globe Democrat.  From Dressvertising Weekly, October 9, 1970.

For those wanting a “groovy” 1970s coat, check out these unsleeved rayon coats to wear over long-sleeved dresses.  Choose a cut-away navy coat which shows off the eye-catching navy, gold and white circle dress underneath it, or pick a beige coat with midriff which highlights the multi-swirl print dress.   The button-front navy coat can highlight a striped dress underneath or can be worn as a dress.  Prices range from $32 – $34, available at Famous-Barr.

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Ad from the February 27, 1970 St. Louis Post Dispatch.  From Volume Dressvertising Weekly, March 20, 1970.

That concludes Modern Graphic History Library’s fashion show of retro St. Louis styles.  Images are from the Fashion Advertising Collection, which features trade journals including Dressvertising Weekly, Coatvertising Weekly, Hatvertising Weekly, Knitwear Fashions, and Sportswear On Parade.  These trade journals aggregated fashion advertisements from nationwide newspapers.

About the author

Andrea Degener is the Visual Materials Processing Archivist in the department of Special Collections at Washington University Libraries.