Sears Spring Catalog, 1934
1934 might be the middle of America's Great Depression, but pages of this Sears catalog were doing their best to cheer up the reader. The exuberant riot of colors and patterns on this page would lift anybody's spirits. It's a masterpiece of busy yet clear design, with every inch of the page filled; understated Art Deco stylings; and impossibly thin and leggy models floating above it all.
That we ARE looking at the Depression, though, is clear in the larger context of the catalog. Color like this is reserved for a few impactful pages; the rest of the catalog is printed black and white on extremely thin and fragile paper. The products and messaging have been adjusted to fit the times with messages about thrift; there are 40 pages devoted just to shoes; and on this page Sears is only selling the cloth – the thrifty housewife would be making her own dress to save money.
Still, only one out of five ladies pictured seems seriously distressed by the situation. The others seem to be gazing off to a brighter future on the horizon.