FrouFrou 4 YouYou

Chicago Millinery History: Spring 1957 April 7, 2015




Finding the right Spring hat in 1957 provided a pleasant shopping opportunity. The Chicago Tribune newspaper had advertisements and articles about hats throughout the week before Easter.

Monday started the week with a list of Fashion Shows. The Drake had Blum’s Vogue on Monday, Charles Stevens led the way with three in various places, including the Spinning Wheel in Hinsdale, the highly regarded Indian Trail Tearoom in Winnetka, as well as in-house.

Marshall Field’s held in-house events at the newly opened Hawthorne room at Old Orchard in Skokie, and the now closed Narcissus Room on State St.

Carson Pirie Scott covered the show at the Empire Room of the Palmer House, and in-house two days that week.

Harding’s Restaurant had their show twice on Thurs., done by The Fair. It was repeated each Thursday thru May 30, except May 23.

Of greatest interest might well have been the one presented by Alma C. Muller of the Chicago Millinery Guild held at Stouffer’s Restaurant on W. Madison. Not a hint of anything else about Alma has surfaced online.


Marshall Field, and early proponent of newspaper advertising had one ad of special interest on April 1. They featured “flowering silk, our copies,” for $12.95. At the top of this post are photos of a Dachettes hat of flowering silk. Could Fields have been copying from Lilly Dache? Fields offered a “breton, the soft circle and the semi-slouch.” The more hats with styles specified, the more diverse the naming is over the years for many hats which may appear very differently than from the terms we associate with them today.


There would be a big chance for hat excitement when Mr. Arnold appeared in Bonwit Teller’s Michigan Ave store on 4/3, and again on 4/4/1957 with a hat featured in an ad for $65. That price is no surprise for the quality items from Bonwit’s, but it was certainly above what most women would have been willing to pay in 1957. Bonwit had an added bit of publicity with a photo in the ladies page section, of one of the hats with a caption about the upcoming store visit. Price comparisons of hats featured in ads that pre-Easter week included Marshal Field’s Budget Store selection of tailored hats for $5.95, the Fair $7.98, Lytton’s for $15, Sears for $5.98, and a wide range at Hats by Sue $5-$150.

But what about Weibolts’s hats, you ask? An ad ran prompting a perplexing question. What is a Chanel 57 Toby? It sounds almost like the make and model of a car. It seems going along with the imitation is the sincerest form of flattery idea, this store has copied a Chanel hat that must have had enough press in the US to make it a standout for this is their only hat ad this pre-Easter week. Priced at $8.99 it was a simple straw with rolled front brim, and “side swept style” with ribbon and bow on the side. Google search was fruitless in finding this original hat. The best I could do was to scan my only copy from 1957 of HATS magazine, to show that a good likeness of side swept appears in a Mr. Arnold on page 3 of “Gotham Gossip.” New Era Hats has a “profile toque” on page 9 in “Flattering Any Angle”, and the Martin- Giusti Co had created a block for the style Flare Front Profile Beret on page 18 of the article “Hat Blocks.” Although there is a regular column in each issue called Pariscope, they never mention Chanel, and this issue only revealed models from Gilbert Orcel, Claude St. Cyr, Jean Barthet, LeGroux, Le-Monnier-Bernard Devaux, and Jacques Heim-Svend. There were additional photos of a special show, the Tout Paris show, covering the details of that and other newsworthy goodies spread along the way from page 3 through page 21. img602



It was tough competition for the creative women of a church group, evident when they went up against each other at the Crazy Hat Contest for Edison Park Lutheran Church women’s group that week. They wore whimsical hats of their own design.The prize was a flower trimmed Lemington straw hat in box, donated by the Shopping With Miss Lee program, (Lee Phillip of TV fame). Several of the members were then to also work as saleswomen in the group’s Heavenly Halo Hat Shop, with items for sale after the luncheon, and open again the Saturday before Easter.

The Chicago Tribune newspaper April 6, 1957 issue had a feature on Sears and their donated catalog microfilm collection, showing an enlarged copy with hats. Hat prices not mentioned, tho the article tells that before laws in place, Morphine sold for 60cents per quarter ounce. Maybe that was to soften the blow for the husbands when they saw what they paid for the wife’s hats.


The week before Easter in 1957 is capped off with an article in the Chicago Tribune on Sat. 4/6 in the “Today With Women” section by MaryLou Luther, “Easter Bonnets for Teenagers. ” Photos of several high school girls are shown wearing hats by Mr. John Jr, John Frederic’s Charmers, Lily Dache’s Dachettes, and a few unnamed designs all available at Charles A. Stevens. Prices ranged from $12.95 to $16.95 for the single floral hat, and predominant straws, with the Breton named most popular of the nine shown.


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