Every so often, I wander downstairs in our office to look at bound editions from the past. It’s always interesting to see what was the news or "stuff worth reading" years ago. In reviewing the issues that were published 40 years ago this month, I found the "1973 Men’s and Women’s Fall Fashion Edition," published as a special section in the Nevada Journal.
The main article for the edition said that the fall fashions of the year would stress "soft dresses, sweater coats and skirts with pleats." So, I’m assuming that the dress on the front cover, which featured a small print design, must have been "soft."
"Fads are out, classics in," stated another story, which focused on an accessory that many are familiar with – the pearl. "What could be more classic than the simple elegance of cultured pearls?," one fashion writer asked. The story went on to advise that a set of pearls was a good investment. The elegant jewels had nearly doubled in value in two years’ time, the story pointed out.
My mother had a set of pearls as I recall, and she wore them often. I have a strand of fake ones – certainly not much of an investment, but I do occasionally wear them, so I guess it wasn’t a total waste of money to buy them.
In the men’s fashion stories, I took interest in a story that said all men needed a "jaunty jacket." These were the "must-have" of the season, it said.
What, pray tell, is a jaunty jacket? I read on to find out that it was any jacket that added to the "action-packed gear" of the "man on the go." A jaunty jacket could be any of the following: a baseball-style jacket, a bomber-style jacket, a trench coat, a loden cloth coat or a coat made of polished cowhide with an enormous fur collar and huge pockets. If anyone still has one of those - the cowhide one - I want to see it!
As interesting as the fashion stories in the section were, the advertisements that ran alongside them were sometimes even more interesting. Local people were often pictured modeling some of the newest items that the stores had for the season, which must have made it fun back then for those looking through the issue.
Some of you are old enough, or have lived here long enough, to recognize some of these 1973 advertisers:
Lyle’s at 1035 Sixth St. in Nevada, offered "the finest brands you can find in Central Iowa." Their ad featured a checklist of all your fall and winter clothing needs that could be found in their store.
Scudder’s, located in the building that now houses Juliann’s, called itself "Nevada’s friendly department store with a children’s store downstairs." In its fashion edition ad, Scudder’s offered women’s pantsuits, "reasonably priced," from $10.98 to $26.98. You could even use your "Master Charge" to buy them, it said.
Running several big ads in the edition was Mark IV, a store of men and boys’ apparel, located at 1121 Sixth St. I thought it interesting that they offered a deal on "Tackle Twill Wide Traks" in one of their ads, calling this item "the greatest double knit going." They were $15 a pair. In another ad, Mark IV featured men’s shoes – both high and low heels. Remember when real men used to wear heels?
Ambrose Department Store had an ad that laid out an array of items and brands featured in the store. It also boasted accessories, like High Fashion Jewelry by Whitney Davis. I’m not sure if that was a local person, or a big-time jewelry lady, but it must have been fancy stuff.
Ames businesses, like Sieferts and Bobby Rogers, also ran ads in the edition.
When I first came to Nevada in 1991, Scudders was still selling clothes in town, and there were several other stores that had clothing as their main focus. But it wasn’t long before those stores closed, and now the main fashions you find in Nevada are spirit wear for the school, farm-type wear at Story Farm and Home, a few other specialty apparel items at Ben Franklin and basic clothing needs at Dollar General.
Nevada isn’t the high-style destination it used to be, but it’s fun to look back to a time when the town was rolling in fashion.
(Marlys Barker is editor of the Nevada Journal.)