A couple weekends ago I was spending a sunny spring Sunday perusing the antique market at Saint Lawrence Market in Toronto. I’m always on the lookout for old fashion magazines but was having no luck – the closest I came was a few tattered copies of Chatelaine from the late fifties and early sixties. Considering their awful condition, I picked them up for a buck each and got more than my money’s worth of entertainment.
Chatelaine isn’t a fashion magazine – it is a women’s magazine. Most of the articles in these issues were evocative of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique – much discussion of marriage, motherhood and mental health, feathering the nest, and of course many recipes using time-saving preparations (i.e. boatloads of Jello) and devices.
The delightful thing about Chatelaine is the Canadian-ness of it. The article about the Royal Family’s health is much like spending time with your monarchist Canadian Nana who is naturally concerned about everyone’s health. I also dug the dismissive review of CBC TV’s summer lineup – “a most unpromising list it is”, along with a suggestion to listen to CBC radio instead – my usual station. Plus, the Canadian short fiction is timeless and delightful.
The minimal fashion coverage is very DIY – fun verging on tacky-crazy. You can click this scan to read the copy.
The ads are much more beautiful than the editorial content, although all seem to focus on keeping house. The idea of being showered with an abundance of appliances is reflected even in the single fashion editorial, which I didn’t scan because it was so boring – “Loads of Style – Little Work: Chatelaine Institute popped these pretty Canadian fashions in the washer-dryer, gave them a touch-up with the iron — and THEN we took the photographs“.
The ads for personal products are the most peculiar things in the whole magazine. The Kotex belt… Lysol is a douche?? Click this scan to read the copy. “Millions of women douche with “Lysol” . . . because a “Lysol” douche gives a sense of complete daintiness.”
This was the best fashion image in this issue – and you know what Chatelaine? I would make this from a pattern. Its cute, eh?