Jason and the Argos Gnomes (Part Nine): The Girl’s Housecoat

Taking Womens’ Liberation back several years

Most of 1979 would be remembered for Margaret Thatcher’s arrival to 10 Downing Street. In the year her party won a Commons’ Majority of 40, some thought this was an iconic moment for female emancipation. If you looked at page 74 of the Autumn/Winter 1979 edition, you may have thought otherwise.

For today’s entry we look at a section likely to get alarm bells ringing, if we dared to add this to a future Argos Catalogue.

The Girl’s Housecoat

Besides being known for flares and creepy, now disgraced mainly male TV personalities, rustic styles were pretty big in the 1970s. First there was the launch of the Laura Ashley chain (floral dresses for the masses, made in South Wales). There was also the Holly Hobbie dolls. Then there was also the idea that girls wanted to be like Holly Hobbie dolls (really?).

Pages 74 and 75 were publicised under the banner of ‘Ideas for the Young Lady’. The epitome of this philosophy was the girl’s housecoat. Based around a misplaced ideal that six to ten year old girls wanted to be like mummy.

It was assumed, on this double page that sexual equality forgot, primary school girls were keen on sewing and knitting. Some may well have been, but a great many would have also took to the Lego set now and again. Or take pride in beating their siblings in Scalextric or Ludo. Then again, what if a male sibling coveted the Sew-Like-Mummy Sewing Kit on the same page?

The said coat was available in 7/8 and 9/10 year old sizes, almost skirting the carpet. In the catalogue, our model is seen in a quilted nylon and acrylic coat with a lace edged Peter Pan collar. The border print was a selection of roses, looking not unlike the packaging of a Yardley cosmetics box.

  • Argos Catalogue edition: Autumn/Winter 1979;
  • Page and item numbers: page 74, item 3;
  • 1979 Prices: £5.99 (£7.95, RRP);
  • 2014 Prices: £30.04 (£39.86, RRP).

S.V., 09 December 2014.

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