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1960's clothing fads paper dresses and dress in a can

Updated on July 13, 2012


The 1960’s was a fertile era for fads and new ideas, especially in the area of fashion, but miniskirts, bell bottoms and patched blue jeans were reasonable compared to the short lived fads of paper dresses and dresses in a can.

The Wisconsin-based Scott Paper Company decided to sell paper dresses to promote their new, more colorful paper products. It was just supposed to be a cute novelty item. They created 2 dresses with bright designs that were just basic A-line shifts with a patch pocket and no sleeves. They could be purchased in 4 sizes. The dresses weren’t 100 percent paper, they had a small amount of rayon added to make the dresses drape a little better. But the dresses were just these loose shifts and no one at the company thought they would sell many.



The dresses sold for $1.25 apiece and came with coupons for company products. They were meant to be worn twice and then thrown away. The promotion took off and the dresses became the latest fad. This actually annoyed Scott Company, which didn’t want to be known for dresses, so they stopped manufacturing after they sold about 500,000 dresses, in 1966.

But other companies knew a good fad when they saw it and for the next 2 years many companies started to sell paper dresses, mostly as an advertising gimmick, some political campaigns even gave away dresses with slogans and images of their candidates. Mars Manufacturing, a clothing business, introduced a new line of paper dress, costing $1.29 each and sold them through Sears and JC Penneys. Expensive designers dresses were also briefly made of paper. The fad quickly died away and by the end of 1968 no one was wearing fashionable paper clothes.



Dresses in a can had an even briefer shelf life. The dresses were made of nylon, sold for $25 and were sold in 1 pound tin cans . You could even buy a crushable hat for $7.00. The dresses were various designs and the big selling point was that it came in a can. This fad started about the same time as paper dresses, but didn’t last quite as long.

At least 1 department store in New York City started selling clothing in a can, including dresses, ties and lingerie. Wippette Sportswear started selling Le Canned Dress late in 1966 and sold 100,000 in November and December. The president of the company got the idea when he saw people buying canned air in a store. This is not compressed air like we have today, that we use to clean keyboards and such. This was just a regular, empty can.



The president figured if people were silly enough to buy an empty can, they would pay more for cans with something in them, especially since the lids came off easily and you didn’t even need a can opener. The dresses come in 3 styles, a baby doll, a fitted dress that flared out at the hip and a dropped waist design. There were 2 multicolored fabrics used and each dress has a special tag shaped like the top of a tin can. The dresses were manufactured in Canada.

During that time period, greeting cards, books, jewelry, handbags, scarves, games and many other items were all sold in cans. Stores would can their own items and watch them fly off the shelves, most bought by teenagers looking for novelties. Sears got into the act and started to sell empty cans and a tin can sealer for store use.


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