Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 42
The dresses came in four sizes and two designs: a
black-and-white Op art print and a bright orangered paisley pattern. The purchase included a
bonus envelope of coupons for Scott paper
products. The inner label warned, "Paper Caper
by Scott. Important: Your Paper Caper is fire resistant, but washing, dry cleaning or soaking will
make the fabric dangerously flammable when
dry." Advertising focused on the carefree nature
of a disposable item, noting, "Won't last forever...
who cares? Wear it for kicks-then give it the air."
What happened next would make any ad executive green with envy: Women across the country
just had to have a paper dress. Within six months,
the company sold 500,000 paper dresses. Overwhelmed, Scott officials abruptly pulled the plug
on the promotion, saying they did not want to
turn the company into a dress manufacturer. This
retreat paved the way for other companies to fill
the demand for the paper dress frenzy. One of the
major players was Mars Manufacturing of Asheville, North Carolina. At the peak of the fad, Mars
Manufacturing churned out 100,000 dresses per
week; most retailed between $1.99 and $3.99.
A simple advertising gimmick led to one of the
hottest fashion trends of the 1960s: disposable dresses. Scott Paper Company revealed a
throwaway dress in 1966 called the "Paper Caper"
to launch its new "Color Explosion" line of toilet
paper and paper towels. By mailing in $1.25, customers could receive a sleeveless, collarless A-line
shift dress made out of a sturdy fiber paper called
Dura Weave that Scott patented in 1958. It was 93
percent paper-napkin stock reinforced with rayon
The Yellow Pages paper dress came in sizes from "Teeny" to "Biggest," and also
with a warning: "Do Not Wash."
Audie had studied English at Cornell, but with the company's new
direction, she stretched her creative
skills by designing the dresses-everything from choosing the paper
prints to deciding on style and size
along with the paper packaging.
"There was a wallpaper printing
company in Appleton, Wisconsin,
and they sent us books of their discontinued designs," says Audie. "I
had so much fun going through the
pages and choosing prints to make
A-shape dresses. Many were pop and
mod; some were pretty wild."
Once the designs were selected,
they were printed on their material and then shipped to Asheville
for production. Hundreds of employees worked to cut and assemble the dresses.
The dresses were packaged in plastic bags with a front cardboard insert
decorated with their logo: a paper doll
dress cutout with the words "Waste
Basket Boutique" running across it.
Above the dress was a circle cutout,
where the doll's head would be, to
display the dress print. Beneath the
dress read, "Mars of Asheville" above
a row of daisies. Under the flowers,
read, "The Pioneer in Disposable
Fashion." The other side identified
the style of garment along with the
size guide: Teeny (4-6), Tiny (8-10),
Bigger (12-14) and Biggest (16-18).
It also provided instructions-press
with cool iron, shorten with scissors;
fire and water resistant-along with
a "Do Not Wash" warning.
"The packaging was pretty corny,
but it was not a sophisticated time,"