Friday, November 27, 2015

Selected Pages From the 1972 Spiegel Christmas Catalog


When I was a kid, there was nothing I loved getting in the mail more than the big, fat Sears Wish Book Christmas catalog every autumn. As I entered my teen years and left toys behind, however, it was the annual Spiegel holiday catalog that quickly became my favorite. I was a big Spiegel fan for many years, particularly throughout the '80s and '90s. Their clothing was classy and definitely a notch above Sears' fashion. Sadly, like most other retailers they discontinued their print catalogs some years ago and after visiting their site recently it seems both the quality and quantity of their clothing has deteriorated. 

Luckily, we have the site WishBookWeb to thank for keeping vintage department store catalogs alive and well online. When I was over there the other day I nearly orgasmed from "flipping" through the 1972 Spiegel holiday catalog -- it was published the year I was born and gives a fascinating glimpse into the fashions and interests of Americans at that time. I'd repost all 436 pages if I could, but that would probably break the bandwidth...so here's (in my opinion) the best of the best...what the groovy good girls and boys (and men and women) of 1972 were asking Santa for that year. Can you dig it? 


(Brace yourself...this is probably going to be an epic post after the jump, so prepare for lots of scrolling and some placed commentary here and there.)






Right off the bat, the first noticeable thing about women's fashion within the first several pages is the maxi skirt trend. Much to the chagrin of men everywhere, by the early '70s the miniskirt was past its heyday and had been replaced by ankle-length skirts and pants. I can practically hear the sounds of muffled male sobs while going through the beginning of this catalog. 


Even sleepwear was affected by this trend, except for the flyaway nightgown on the left. What happened to the baby doll negligees? 




Lots of pants and coordinated outfits. Couldn't you just picture Peggy Olsen wearing the above two-piece, if only Mad Men had continued for a couple more seasons?


Of course, the Little House on the Prairie look was in full swing, too. 


Look at that! Knee-length dresses. No joke, out of over 400 pages there were only two or so that showed shorter dresses. 


Even junior fashion got more modest. I really like that cute strawberry dress. 


Cute coats. 


Very mod sweaters.


I've never been a fan of bow-tie blouses. 


I actually had a bodysuit top in the '90s courtesy of Victoria's Secret. It was a dream for keeping your top tucked in -- but a nightmare when you had to use the bathroom. Not to mention, kind of hot in the summer having that extra layer of fabric on your panties. 


Velvet lime green pants (and shorts!) and a funky matching top -- a throwback to the '60s.


Before curling iron and flat irons, there were dryer combs. I think one of my sisters had one of these, but I was never able to get it to really do anything to my hair. 


Could you imagine drying your hair with a tabletop salon dryer? My mother had a portable one. I used it a few times while trying to curl my hair with rollers -- it's a wonder I didn't scorch my scalp. 


I believe the yellow smiley face and "Have a nice day" catchphrase hadn't been invented yet by 1972 (by Forrest Gump, of course) but it's nice to see someone thought of putting it on fuzzy slippers first. 



The greatest fashion irony of 1972, apparently, is that go-go boots were still very much in fashion, even though no one would see them beneath the pants and floor-length skirts. 


Those four shavers in the middle are way cooler looking than a Schick Quattro. 


Something you don't see so much nowadays...valet chairs or sewing centers. 


No surprise, they sold a music box that plays "Love Story." Complete with a replica of Ali McGraw and Ryan O'Neal. 


If I'm not mistaken, that's a photo of Bobby Darin in the photo cube -- how he'd get in there?


I didn't think they sold home wine making kits in 1972...but Spiegel has proved me wrong. They also have a cordial making kit...for your uncle who likes sneaking nips when he goes to the horse track.


Bowling was still big in 1972...so much so that they sold a ball cleaning kit. (No jokes, please.)


I wonder how many of those go-go girl mixes Spiegel sold back in the day. Like I said, this was a classier catalog than Sears. 


Something you don't see anymore...the longer hairstyles of men back then required some serious grooming, too. 


My mind definitely wandered looking at that stretch lounger. Are we sure it was only used for stretching? And look! Spiegel carried sauna pants! I wonder how many fights this caused on Christmas morning when a spouse opened up that for a gift. 


Totally feeling nostalgic for my roller skates right now.



I've always thought these convertible dining/game tables were the coolest things ever. 


Welcome to 1972...the dawning of his-and-hers matching fashions. 


Velveteen walking suits...no need to say more. 


Oh...more matching his-and-hers outfits...this time in nifty knits. 


"I'll be the boy...in the corduroy pants...you'll be the girl...at the high school dance."


Oh, no. Not again. 


Now that's class. Leather-trimmed sweaters from Italy. 


Cue the Shaft theme. This is the fastest way to turn yourself into a cool, 1970s TV detective. 


Nope, we're not done yet with the matching fashions. The male model looks stoned...which is how I'm starting to feel after uploading so many images!


It's sweater time!


Now we're about to get into some fun stuff. Like that darkroom kit -- what every kid wanted decades before digital cameras came around. 


I still have my sister's Panasonice Toot-A-Loop radio. I bet that Message Minder was considered a real technological wonder back in the early '70s!


Big ass audio systems were still all the range, but I really like that "ultra-modern" component system! 


Glow-in-the-dark poster sets and lava lamps. Love it!


Oh. Em. Gee. I had that very Peanuts sheets set! I remember the pillowcase with the happiness saying on it, too! 


The "I'm Flip Wilson Doll" was a real thing, folks. Believe it or not, there was also a Redd Foxx doll...thankfully that didn't use speech snippets from his comedy stage routines. (For the record, I had Raggedy Ann and Andy there. They sure were ugly dolls.)


Love the sewing machines with the little flowers on them. 


I bet dentists saw a banner year in 1973 after kids received cotton candy making machines under the tree. I'm not going to lie -- if I had been old enough, I would have begged for one of these. 


I had every single one of these Fisher-Price toys. Good times. 


One of my favorite toys -- ever -- was the View-Master. I don't think today's kids growing up with iPads could appreciate the simple pleasures of looking into a View-Master. Believe it or not, the company is still around, but the viewer now requires you to insert a smartphone so you can play with virtual reality. No thanks; I'll take the View-Master that featured 3D sculptures any day. 


I want that fiberoptic centerpiece...and it's not just for the holidays, but year-round usage! 


Give your kid a super sharp bottle cutting kit. What could possibly go wrong?


Here's some other hobbies the kiddos might enjoy: macrame, ceramics, some shrinky-dinks knockoff...and the ultimate safe toy, the wood burning kit. (I DID burn the tip of my finger once with my own wood burning kit. It was not a pleasant experience.)


"Grow magic crystals." This is how Walter White got his start, kids. 

And a 1970s gift catalog wouldn't be complete with an 8-track radio player. A portable one in a pretty aqua blue color to boot.


Well friends, I'll be honest -- if I upload and comment on any more catalog pages, my head will explode. Check out WishBookWeb for the rest of this particular catalog and many more they have archived there. It's time for me to take a nap!

6 comments:

  1. All the female models look so familiar. And I think the long-haired brunette who is on the far left of the cute car coats page is the actress (I forget her name) who was on Hill Street Blues and played the attorney who married Captain Furillo.

    I had that pink electric shaver! I didn't get for Xmas thankfully. I was 12 in 1972 and my grandmother gave it to me as a hint that I needed to start shaving my legs. I guess she thought that was safer than a regular razor.

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  2. My sister had one of those Super Maxx hairdryers and I had one of those 7Up can flicker lights. My sister recently got out my View Master & reels for her five year old grandson and he loved them. Do you remember the reels where a cartoon character would be against a photo back ground? I have a Superman like that. Also have a few from the late 70s which featured a glowing effect. For example, a fire would have one side with the fire colored red and the other side would be yellow, so when view through the View Master the fire gave off an orange glow.

    Dawn, her name is Veronica Hamill. I believe Erin Grey from Buck Rogers & Silver Spoons is in these photos.

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  3. Off the top of my head, the view-master reels I had included Popeye, The Jungle Book, Donald Duck with Chip & Dale, and nature reels such as wildlife and zoos. But by far my favorites were the Peanuts one, many of them made with 3D sculptures...they looked like a Rankin-Bass version of the characters. One of these days I'll write a bit about View-Master; the company had an interesting history...the result of a collaboration between a German immigrant and a postcard company back in the 1930s.

    Glad to hear kids still enjoy them.

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  4. I was in Target today and saw a View Master set. It think Toy R Us sells them too, but I think they are mainly educational reels connected to Animal Planet.

    I had some Disney reels that were the 3D sculptures and the Peanuts ones.

    A co-worker of mine goes to estate sales and antique stores to buy records. He recently told me about a lady, who sold him her records, had a View Master table. It was like an artist light board, only you could view the View Master reels through the top of the table. She wouldn't sell it to him though.

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  5. All so wonderful, especially the toys. Given the time period you can be sure they were well made.

    Some of these survived into the late 70's and early 80's as I remember seeing them (the "Max for Men" hair styler for example).

    Thanks for posting and telling about that site.

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  6. Thanks, Dar -- there's a few more cool catalogs on the site I definitely want to highlight. It's total retro gold!

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