FrouFrou 4 YouYou

Chicago Millinery History: Spring 1956 January 26, 2016


Spring is headed for Chicago in 1956 and it will be most welcome. March advertisements in the Chicago Tribune newspaper tease readers with fresh new coats and hats. Clearly too soon to be worn just yet, tho the temperature was predicted to be mid 50s, on March 1. This is warm enough to happily anticipate the warmth of spring soon to come. Easter arrives April 1, so it is not too soon to decide just what hat to wear.

The Fair features a large expanse of fabric coat, but the icing on the cake is a cherry hat. Roberta Bernays designs run $12.98, in seven colors, including Dior blue, available on the third floor Millinery Salon. For the cherry lover these would have been a bargain, as later in the week one would have to go to Evanston or Highland Park to Edgar A. Stevens to pick their cherry hats from $27.50-$35.

Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co has a three day special of hats for a mere $8. But if you wanted a real bargain of a white hat, head to Sears for the $2.55 sale!


For those with deeper pockets there is excitement at Mandel Bros on March 1, and March 2 in the French Room, on 5, at the State St store. Russ Russell, a Chicago milliner, will be sharing his “Portrait of a Lady” hats, ranging from $29.50-$45.


Some more devoted to high fashion would want to wait a bit to see the newest from Paris. Rea Steeger reports “From Paris to Chicago by Air” features Givenchy, Dior, Fath, and Sven creations. The high end copies and originals would likely show up at Marshall Field’s within a few short weeks.


March 2, a Friday, had only one hat shown, at Charles A. Stevens, for $10.95. Friday newspapers focused on food and all the grocery ads to send the homemaker in the right direction for Kraft Velvetta cheese, one pound for $.47.


March 3, Saturday has nine hats shown, within a feature on suits, showing interest for suits in the back as well as the front. This article in the Today With Women pages, shows fashions sold at Charles A. Stevens.


March 4, and things improve with the Sunday paper. A $3.98 lilac hat at Lane Bryant, and a $3.19 hat at Goldblatt’s department store. The paper features many mid price and lower department store multiple page ads. Great if you are looking for furniture or household items, not great for hats.

The Fair showed one for $7.95 by Chapeaux Louise, and Hats by Sue showed a hatbox, stating hats were $5-$25.

The Wilson Hat Shop on S. Ashland had one hat featured for $10.95.

The 53year old Gately’s dept store on the south side was showing a small hat for $5.98.
Jan Bark, who created hats in Chicago, was doing a special appearance at The Fair with a hat shown priced at $16.95.


Stanley Korshak has a striking hat with scarf for $39.50.

The best news is offered by Carson, Pirie, Scott, who will be starting a series of fashion shows, featuring millinery as of Tues. March. 6, at the Empire Room of the Palmer House. Although the 3/4 page ad mentions the show, the drawings are of dresses by Mollie Parnis, Herbert Sondheim, Anna Miller, Harvey Berin, Oleg Casinni, and Adele Simpson. Some of the names are still well recognized today.

March 5, Monday starts a new fashion week. Saks Fifth Avenue is showing Coconut Meringues, priced at $17.95 for a Blinker Bonnet, and $18.95 for a Breton, in navy, white, black or beige. They could be found in Moderate Priced Hats on the 5th floor at 669N. Michigan Ave.


Bonwit Teller, at 830N. Michigan Ave featured a daisy chain hat for $35 by Irene of New York, in white, yellow, pink, navy and black. The best part was one could meet Irene while in store Tues or Wed.
Mandel Bros shows a $29.50 Model T Skimmer Straw. On the other hand the Today With Women article shows a photo of a very similar hat, again called a Model T, by Irene of New York at her appearance at Bonwit Teller in white, certainly priced higher than the Mandel Bros one.

Marshall Field’s Budget Store has rolled out all the stops with $3.30 hats.


Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co has gone all out with a full page ad, showing hats and shoes. The hats were by Sally Victor for $79.50, Sam Budwig for $20, Mr. Arnold for $45, Mr. Phil for $20, Wm. Silverman for $29.50, and Chanda for $69.50.

March 6, reveals Maurice L. Rothschild has told of an upcoming fashion show Wed, March 7, of hats, including their own line of Ronnie hats. Also to be shown by Miss Mary Wyman, a NY hat stylist, were those of Mr. Arnold, H. Howard Hodge, Alfreda, Gardner, Helen Joyce, Mr. John Jr, Chanda, Phil Strann, Silverman and Adrienne. For added allure would be 3 hats awarded as door prizes. A special pair of photos by the newspaper show 2 hats to be included in the event; one a Pilgrim Breton by Mr. Arnold for $55, and Salad Bowl by Ronnie for $15.
Other ads have a straw swathed in organza shown by Saks Fifth Ave from $25-$29.95.
Kay’s Millinery Supply 17 N. Wabash, ( formerly 320 Michigan Ave) has sample hats $2 -$5, as well as flowers from $.10-$.50.


March 7 has only one small hat ad from Stevens for a little “belt and buckle” hat for $7.95. The real interest for fashion reading is the article by Rea Steeger on the narrow silhouette. Photos are shown of a narrow skirted suit at Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co, gowns at Bonwit Teller and Elizabeth Arden, and one photo of a large oversize inverted bowl of a hat, from Elizabeth Arden. Elizabeth Arden? Yes, from the 1910 cosmetic company, which was started by Florence Nightingale Graham of Canada, who dropped out of nursing school to move to NY and follow her dream. The fashion show, sponsored by the Chicago Fashion Group, was held at the Morrison Hotel, built in 1925, but torn down in 1965 for the First National Bank Building.

March 8 Cherries on hats are now appearing on hats at Sears, for $3.99.
A full page hat ad for Marshall Fields shows six hats priced $13.95 to $69.50.
Mandel Bros has an $8.95 trio of hats “Snow White dwarfs all others for Easter”, including a hat with the hottest trend, cherries.


March 9 took a break from hats in the newspaper, but then March 10 made up for it.
Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co has a vine covered cloche for $7.95, but their real story is a fashion show for teens, including several hats mentioned and shown. The article mentions teens are invited and it will be “complete with soft drinks on the house.” The hats shown at the event were Betmar and Madcaps priced from $5.95-$7.95.


March 11 is a big day for advertising household items, and a pink washer and dryer for $339 shows a woman in her suit and hat heading out for the afternoon as she is now free from the time consuming ways of the old days to handle that laundry chore. It is hard to be tempted by the “sissy sailor” hat by Jane Morgan for $6.98 at Madigan’s, when there is a PINK washer and dryer to be purchased.

Lane Bryant lilac hats for $6.98 look just like the hat they advertised on March 4, or perhaps lilacs were such a big hit they bought more, though at a higher price.
The main article of the Women’s page is “Spectacular Hats For Spring Call for Brighter Eye Makeup: Don’t Look All Hat and No Face,” by Eleanor Nangle. The photos show two hats by Tatiana of Saks Fifth Ave, and one each from Emme, Mr. John of John Frederic’s, and Laddie Northridge.

March 12, has an ad from Weiboldts for a Doree wide brim hat for $18.95, but it probably gained far less attention than the ones from The Fair.
The Fair advertises a hat by John Frederic’s for $52.50. Hats ranged from $ 15.95 to $69.50. Names mentioned also included Vincent deKoven, Leslie James, Schiaparelli, Suzy Lee, Agnes, H. Howard Hodge, Adrienne, and John Andrews.

A news insert photo is captioned with an enticement to a striped beret and scarf set at Lytton’s Chapeaux Boutique, for $13.95.


March 13 Marshall Field’s full page “Pace” ad reveals great pride as customers are invited to the first and only U.S. appearance of noted Parisian milliner, Svend. Svend was from Denmark tho studied in France, before having shops in Denmark and Sweden. He had worked with Jacques Fath, before striking out on his own. Five hat photographs reveal all different designs. Even if purchasing a hat was not in the budget, one could attend a fashion show of his hats in the Walnut Room for only $1.50.

The day before an import fashion show had been held at the Mayfair Room of the Sheraton Blackstone Hotel, where 250 women had the first glimpse of Svend and his hats, along with a primarily Dior clothing presentation.

Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co also had a full page ad, of “Oh, those beautiful blondes.” Featuring pearls, gloves, handbags, hose, all in shades of white, plus one hat for $16.95. Very lovely ad, but not nearly as exciting as a real live Parisian milliner.

March 14 had plenty of ads for mink stoles, but hats were absent. March 15 shows a hat at Kerman’s on Michigan Ave for $12.95, but it barely holds your attention once you see the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co ad for Miss Lee. The noted Chicago television personality would be present for two showings of hats, and the event was to include a contest for one of ten Sam Budwig hats. To win, one had to provide a written entry response to “Why I Like the BIG change in hats.”
Weiboldt’s placed a half page ad with seven hats ranging from $6.99 -$15.99.

March 16 includes a different approach to hat shopping, the mail order. A little ad with a form to complete and mail in to Bonwit Teller at 830 N. Michigan Ave, and $7.95 brings you a rose covered headband hat by Brod. Many colors to select from, or perhaps one should get a few different ones. If a trip to the store was possible, they could found on the first floor in the Headband Dept. They must have stocked a great many to call it a whole department.

Hat reporting and ads took a day off on March 17, though plenty of green ones were most likely worn, it was St. Patrick’s Day. March 18 and the Sunday Tribune brought out far more ads, as now Easter was just 2 weeks off. Goldblatt’s has hats for $6, and Lord’s in Evanston has an $18 platter style hat. While in Evanston, or up in Highland Park, the Edgar A. Stevens had a $15 capulet of flowers. Hats by Sue has another ad this month, for those who shopped north side local on Irving Park or Central.
Big things are happening downtown, tho. Bonwit Teller will have Miss Emme present Monday, and Marshall Field’s State St store shall have the hot designer, Laddie Northridge.


Where to go first? Since the Chicago Tribune Magazine insert article on Easter fashion shows a charming $95 Laddie Northridge hat, Marshall Filed’s probably had a better turnout. They also had a Lilly Dache hat for $98, and a Mr. John for $75 shown too.


March 19 has a full page ad for Carson Pirie Scott with hats from $10-$49.50, including hats by Louis of California, Sam Budwig and Mr. John.
Stevens little ad shows a $7.98 number. Mandel Bros has a hat for $14.95, but of interest is their Easter Coupon book for $25. One bought the coupon book on credit to be paid off over months, to purchase Easter clothing and accessories. By the time the hat is paid off, it is out of style.

Weibolt’s has hats $7.99 and $8.99, with The Fair $7.98, and Maurice L. Rothschild at $12.99.

Best news yet? Goldblatt’s has CHERRY hats for $3.99.


Today is the day many have waited for, the full page article on women’s hats with flowers, showing a selection of nine flowered beauties. Front and center is a Laddie Northbridge at Marshall Fields. The others are Mr. Fred of John-Frederics at Bramson, and the pretty things at Martha Weathered, Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co, Charles A Stevens, Mandel Bros, Bonwit Teller, and Saks Fifth Ave.

Pickings are slim, as March 20 shows no hat ads, and March 21 has only one from Charles A. Stevens for $29.98.

March 22 has one wondering if Bonwit Teller has hit on a marketing miracle as this week again they have a mail in ad for a hat, a straw Breton for $8.95 by Jauntee.


Also advertising is Saks Fifth Avenue with a $22.95 “white lace cobweb.”


March 23 and March 24 have no ads, but do not fret, March 25 boasts a Bonwit Teller Balenciaga hat for $45 of blue meringue glacé with pleats. Goldblatt’s has $7.99 and $9.99 hats as the only others shown.
March 26 has Mandel Bros for $16.95, and Carson Pirie Scott and Co for $8.95.


March 27 has nothing, but fortunately Marshall Filed’s has saved an ad for March 28. The $20 Lemington hat is a “1956 revival of the 1910 cloche.” It looks nothing like what we would call a cloche today. It appears more like an oversized pillbox that comes down over the brow with an indented crown.

For anyone who avoided hat shopping things are getting down to the wire. March 29 only shows a $ 8.95 blonde hat at Edgar A. Stevens, up in Evanston or Highland Park, or $5 straws at The Fair.

March 30 is Good Friday, and not a big fashion shopping day, with food featured in ads to get the holiday meal goodies. March 31 is the last chance for those who have neglected things far too long, although there are no hat ads to show you where to find your hat.


Perhaps what you are really looking for is an after Easter bargain. Sunday April 1 does not disappoint. Goldblatt’s has 50,000 hats for $2 each. YES, $2. But if you wished you had purchased that Lane Bryant Lilac hat, never fear, it is back again at $3.99