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Window Shopping Through the Years

I happened to find myself on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on the day after Thanksgiving. Sounds great, in theory, but for this introvert it was beyond overwhelming. So many people!! I couldn’t get close to any of the most notable stores for window displays, but did see some from the upper level of a double-decker tourist bus. Not a bad way to see the city, save for freezing our tushes off.

This year’s offerings are impressive as always, some more art installation than commercial presentations.
Barneys Window 2014

Window shopping is as old as shop windows, or at least as old city shops. Look a the beautiful hats and dresses on the passerby! The shop windows advertise the wares inside, like a form of early social media.
1908 street scene

The staff at this millinery shop pose in front of the large shop windows. The huge glass panes offered ad space, but the light they let in was often the only light in the shop.
1888 shop

Wartime can’t stop Christmas, it just sandbagged it a bit for this London shop.
1939 london war sandbags

Christmas lists were often made as noses pressed against shop windows, like these kids in the 40s.
40s window shop

Christmas windows in Manhattan in the 40s, the precursors to today’s over the top window displays. So many wonderful fedoras and overcoats on the men!
1947 manhattan

Even Dovima, one of the most popular models of the 50s, does a little window shopping.

Beautiful mannequins show off the newest dresses, and welcome General Omar Bradley back to his home town, Moberly MO after WW2.
Windo Mannequins

I’ll take one of each of these coats and hats in this shop window. I’d take the mannequins too!
50s Window

Of course, shop windows don’t just happen. This young shop girl from the 50s is dressed in dungarees and flats, and a smart short sleeve sweater with polkadot necktie. Window dressing is hard work, and one wouldn’t want to bend over in the window in a skirt.
Fenwick Shop Window 50s

This mod duo from London in the the 60s just REALLY loves shopping.
60s london

Woolworths! This department store chain was originally a fivew-and-dime, with stores all over the US. These smart 70s shoppers are heading in for a big sale!
woolworth 70s

As downtown shops faded away starting in the 80s, the mall became the place to be and be seen. Window shopping was done from the comfort of indoor sidewalks that wafted scents from the food court and perfume counters.
80s mall shop