The 50 Best Photos of Lesbian Subtext in Sears Christmas Wish Book History

When I was a poor kid growing up in the foothills of the north Georgia mountains, one of my favorite days of every year was the afternoon in late September when the mailman dropped off the Sears Christmas Wish Book. My sister and I never knew when it was coming, just that it was coming, and as soon as it arrived, we holed ourselves up in the attic on our lime green beanbags and combed through the pages of the Wish Book like we were looking at a royal people’s yearbook.

Who were these human beings who could afford pajamas that matched their robes that matched their slippers that they wore on Christmas morning while sitting in front of a fire in their mansion with a golden retriever and a cup of coffee, smiling as they waited their turn to open up what was surely a box of gold bars and uncut diamonds? We did not know, but we wanted to be them.

It wasn’t until much later in life that I realized the Sears Christmas Wish Book was also the first publication to give us the gift of women standing around in their underwear exchanging presents and longing looks with each other. Eat your heart out, Victoria’s Secret; this thing happened in 1942:

The only thing you would look sexier in is an scissoring sweatshirt, doll.

And so when I was home visiting my family a couple of weeks ago, I dug out the old Wish Books my grandma keeps around and decided to curate the 50 best photos of lesbian subtext Sears gifted us with over the years. The Wish Book may be gone, but the accidental lesbianism will never be forgotten.

Happy holiday shopping, everyone!

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. Two things:

    1. This is amazing.

    2. It must have been a lot harder being a queermo in the 80s what with almost EVERYONE having alternative lifestyle haircuts! I’m sure many gaydars were led astray.

  2. These are so perfect.
    (Also, I totally had a “grandmother’s couch vest” as a kid, and I wore it proudly.)

  3. “Where’s Aria, you guys?”

    DEAD, because that pic is so accurate and Ali is 100% in the blue jumper

  4. Wait, you could order button up shirts according to your bust line?!?!?! Can they bring that back please? I’m not huge by any means, but wearing a size 4 on top and not being flat chested, seems something really hard for shirt makers to comprehend. I would love to buy a 4 in the C-D range I saw. Could be a game changer.

    • Holy crap, I thought this same thing.
      I’m getting tired of having to buy too big or safety pin my shirts together, and it takes a lot of time to sew a damn work shirt from a pattern!

    • Your profile pic makes this comment even more awesome.

      And I totally agree. If I could order shirts with custom cup sizes, that would expand my office-appropriate wardrobe a lot.

  5. It worries me how much I yearn for the crap yet carefree fashion of the 80s. Seas of Oxford shirts with substantial pockets… mountains of practical shoes… PLAID. PLAID EVERYWHERE.

    The 1940s was also apparently SO homoerotic. God. I appreciate Bomb Girls on a whole new level now.

  6. I’m terrified by how much this took me back to my childhood…we had the littlewoods catalogue here in the UK…I feel the need to locate old copies and attempt such witty comments.
    P.S. My Aunt (who is straight) had the MOTHER of all ALHs back in the 80s. The worst era for trying to find anyone with an AL based on their H.

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