Charm Magazine started publishing in the 1940s, but gained popularity in the 1950s as being “the magazine for women who work.” Back then most fashion magazines were geared toward homemakers , young adult women or the affluent, Ladies Home Journal, Seventeen or Vogue.
The creators of Charm realized there was a need for a magazine that addressed the needs of career women, a demographic that was under served, at a time when more and more women were entering the work force.
Naturally, many of their editorial spreads featured clothing for the office. The model below is wearing a tweed suit by Zelinka-Matlick. According to the Vintage Fashion Guild label resource, they were one of the great suit and coat houses on 7th Ave. in New York City.
A turquoise cotton knit suit by famous American sportswear designer, Claire McCardell.
You won’t see recipes or food ads in copies of vintage Charm magazines. But there are plenty of ads for office equipment and articles on how to dress for success and get ahead on the job.
Here the ad implies that using the new electric Remington Typewriter frees up more time to enjoy social activities after work.
The below article features recommendations on the best office equipment at the time. Check out those giant copiers!
On the left is an ad for the Lana Lobell mail order company, featuring a dress by Kay Windsor, one of my favorite vintage dress labels. You can read about the company in a previous blog post.
To the right, notice the article titled, Equal Pay for Equal Work. What struck me about this title, in a magazine from 1955, is that 65 years later there are still tons of articles about the gender pay gap. Though we’ve come a long way, American women today still earn, on average, .77 for every 1.00 a man makes. Unfortunate that decades later this continues to be an issue.
Beside career outfits, the magazine featured clothing for leisure, party time and resortwear. All geared to the budget of the “working girl.”
Jonathan Logan was a well known label from the 40s through the 80s. Mostly noted for quality dressy, classic clothing.
I featured the history of the L’Aiglon dress label in a previous blog post.
One of the many reasons I love to read vintage fashion magazines is to discover new vintage clothing labels to look for. These days it is so difficult to search for vintage dresses online without spending hours scrolling through thousands of listings. But if you can include the name of a specific label or designer in your search it helps to narrow down the results. And lesser known labels can reveal some lovely budget friendly options.
Toni Todd is one of those labels. 1950s dresses from this company were stylish and designed for the budget conscious. But every one I’ve seen is of superior quality compared to any of the fast fashion clothing seen today.
This is a label most of us are familiar with, since they’re still in business today. Lesley Fay 2 piece silk shantung skirt suit. Love the fitted jacket with the full skirt, reminiscent of the feminine Dior “new look” style.
This Natlynn ad states this rayon/silk party dress dress is the “Look of the Stars- winsome and glamorous. Its bright future promises many a curtain call.”
Known for their dresses inspired by Hollywood stars, in 1955 they actually contracted with actress Janet Leigh to design for them.
Lorch of Dallas was known for it’s cotton sportswear. Wondering why there is a monkey on the model’s shoulder?
Apparently monkeys were a “trendy” pet back in the 1950s and 60s.
And many a career girl loved pouring through her “Frederick’s of Hollywood” catalog, envisioning themselves in their sexy lingerie
and after five fashions.
Here we go from practical Town and Country shoes for daytime to Mandel’s strappy high heeled mules, with the racy name “Strip Show”. No doubt, perfect to wear with Frederick’s of Hollywood dresses!
At this stage in my life I prefer the former, rather than the latter.
No vintage woman’s magazine would be complete without some type of spot reducing or weight loss ad. Wouldn’t it be great if a contraption like this really worked?
“Simple to use. Just plug in, grab handle and apply to most any part of the body -stomach, hips, neck, chest, thighs, arms, etc.” Hmmm, wonder what they meant by etc?
Of course, career women needed to look fashionable on vacation too. Here are a couple of pages from the resort fashion spread. Cole of California lastex swimsuit on the left and a cute sundress by Loomtogs on right Loomtogs was another well known sportswear label.
Charm was eventually incorporated into Glamour magazine in 1959. But the original founder, Helen Valentine, and art director, Cipe Pineles, were certainly ahead of their time.
Till next time……