Catalogs #4: Bed & Bath Babes

Let me start by saying that all these images are rated G; they're pretty tame by all accounts.  I just find it interesting that in nearly every catalog I paged through from the late sixties and seventies had a woman in a state of undress in the bed & bath section. 

I can understand the rational for it - you want to show the products in use the same way you'd show the clothing.  Also, you don't want to be too realistic and show some pasty heavyset man on the throne; a young woman in a bubble bath is probably a much better option.

Therefore, I'm not sure this really qualifies as an example of the "sex sells" principle; however, it's definitely treading the grey area between benign product presentation and cheesecake sales tactics.  Either way, they're interesting to look at if only for the vintage decor. Click the icon below and enjoy!  (Don't forget, you can click the icon with four arrows to view full screen - and hit "escape" to return to Retrospace.)


  1. Oh mein gott!! Toilet tank covers! I had forgotten about those! Wow, thanks for the weird flashback to some weird homes I remember visiting. Funny, back then I never wondered if those things were washable. Now I don't even want to think about it.

  2. I'd say the fact that many of the women in the beds are (or appear to be) naked would qualify as sex sells.

  3. I always had to wonder who thought women got their hair done and put on a face full of make up (including those giant false eyelashes that probably were so heavy, the women all looked like they were on the nod) right before going to bed or taking a bath........

    But as you say G-Man: ads featuring big fat, pasty white guys would NOT make your powder room fixtures look good.......

  4. My grandparents' house dated from 1962. My grandmother chose her bathroom colors from a catalog provided by the builders, so they ended up with a lavender-tiled bathroom with matching lavender toilet bowl complete with "updated" (circa 1980) silver and Doublemint green wallpaper and toilet cover. Other peoples' homes were such an '80s letdown by comparison, with their bland, conformist white walls...

    The Neo-Edwardian Hipster

  5. Nirvana ad is titillating for sure! especially the....whoops! just took my Aqua Vac and now I really gotta gooooooo!

  6. Oh these pages are awesome. Lets see, you're teanager in the '70's, no internet, home alone, did you ever dig through catalogs for some uh, titillating images? *sheepishly raises his hand*