* A NOTE FROM NANCY *
How much does it cost? It’s an oft-used phrase, an oft-asked question. The cost of living affects every part of our lives. We make choices based on an item’s cost.
I’ve always been fascinated with how much things cost in the past. Much of the time, the items seem ridiculously cheap. And yet . . . and yet . . . when taken in relation to income, often what seems cheap isn’t.
Yet considering the income of many unskilled city-dwellers was only $740/year . . . They worked 10-12 hours a day, for $.20/hour, six days a week. It’s said that a dollar in 1886 is worth $23.50 now (http://www.measuringworth.com ). Let’s make it x 24 to make it a nice number… $740 in today’s money is $17,760. It seems about even-steven. Even the cost of the boots is commensurate: $1.75 x 24 = $42. It’s actually kind of amazing.
The day dress on the left—with a lot of embellishments—cost $4.75 in the Bloomingdale’s catalog. The one on the right, with a lot of lace, was $12.75. Although it’s hard to find a present-day outfit that uses an equal amount of yardage or trim, if we take the 1886 price x 24, that brings up a modern-day cost of $114-$306 for an outfit with a lot of detail. Again, not out of line.