Saturday, June 28, 2014

Vintage Magazines

I have a deep and abiding love of vintage women's magazines.  They're such a fascinating look into another time period, and they're fun to read to boot.  I've been reading vintage magazines for years and I thought that I should pass on the vintage magazine reading love.  They can be sort of difficult to find, but they're well worth the hunt.  These days, thanks to more accessible vintage stores and the online world, they can be found for prices that are not outrageous.  So here are my reasons for loving vintage magazines.

1.  That lovely smell.  There is nothing like musty paper.  It's so intoxicating!  It's interesting, because the smell is completely different from the scent of old books, but both are among my favorite smells in the world.

2.  The often-hilarious ads.  My favorite is one of a worried 50s mother trying to get her little boy to take his daily laxative.  It's only when one of her friends explains that little Timmy needs a children's laxative, not a big old adult one.  It's no wonder he hates the taste!  There are all kinds of ads from toilet paper to laundry detergent to hand cream.  Ads are another way to get a clear picture of what people were thinking about at another time.

3.  The illustrations and photographs in the stories.  There is something so cheerful and charming about the drawings and photographs that accompany the stories.

4.   The fashion pages.  You all know how much I love vintage fashion.  Most vintage women's magazines have a fashion section, much like today's women's magazines.  However, instead of "5 belts for under $75"(you know that just means that each belt costs $74.99), it's "This fall's coat patterns" or "Make a new apron in an afternoon."

5.  The (sometimes garishly colored) food.  The food almost never looks appetizing, but I still have fun looking at the pictures and laughing at the nasty-looking jelled recipes (chicken with tomatoes jelled in lime jello, anyone?)

6.  The stories.  The stories often have a soap-opera-ey bent to them, but occasionally you'll find something well written by a now-famous author.  The stories are usually divided throughout the magazine, so you'll turn from page 56 to page 75, where the next segment of the story is.  These magazines are worth hunting out just for the fun stories.  It's too bad that women's magazines have lost this charming feature.  Where else could you get 7 different short fictional stories for 25 cents then?

The only complaint I have about vintage magazines is their unwieldy nature.  They tend to be a lot bigger than magazines today (almost newspaper height) and it takes some upper body strength to keep the magazine upright while reading an article.  I've found that the best way to read them is to spread the magazine on the floor and flop down on the floor on your stomach and read, with your chin propped up on your elbows.

So if you should happen to stumble upon a vintage magazine (or, lucky you, magazines), snap it up.  You're in for a treat.


  1. I love these vintage magazines, especially Good Housekeeping, and occasionally buy them when I find them for a pittance. I'm old enough to remember them at the newsstand or waiting for the one or two my mother subscribed to, eager to read the next installment of a story or the feature column on the back. You stir some lovely memories for me with these.

    I enjoyed seeing your Katniss pattern and will be looking to see the actual dress.

    1. That's so neat! It would be nice to have those magazines in order. It drives me absolutely nuts when I read the first part of a serial, but then don't have the next magazine, so I never know what ends up happening.