It Takes Less Work to Afford to Purchase Nice Clothes Compared to 1956

Remember when folks bring up the gap between the classes or the "vanishing middle."


Using my Sears Fall/Winter 1956 catalog, I searched for the lowest-priced ensemble of men's business-wear clothing available at Sears in 1956 (subject only to a few constraints mentioned below).  From page 551 through page 676 of that catalog I found these basic items.  The prices listed just below are the 1956 prices; in brackets are the amounts of time the ordinary American worker – earning then, as he or she did, $1.89 per hour – had to work to purchase each of these items.

Remember from this November 26, 2012 post that I use the 1956 average hourly manufacturing earnings of production workers, as reported in Table 1 here, as the figure for the hourly earnings of the 'ordinary' American worker.  That hourly wage in 1956 was $1.89.