FrouFrou 4 YouYou

Chicago Millinery History: Marshall Field and Co, and Millinery Part 1 March 10, 2016

The store of greatest reknown in Chicago is definitely Marshall Field and Co. It’s history as a shopping Mecca for Chicagoans and many millions of visitors is told in many ways. There are magazine articles, newspaper articles, and books which have been written about the man, Marshall Field, as well as the store. There is an online entry for both on Wikipedia. There are postcards through the decades. There are U-Tube films, the best of which should not be missed. Rebecca V. Larkin does more for the image of the man and the store than any other media out there.

Fashion was a top focus for the store. As Marshall Field V tells Ms. Larkin in her interview of him, “The men made the money, and the women spent it.”

Those women spent plenty of it on hats. One enjoyable way to look back in time is through the newspaper advertisements placed by Marshall Field and Co in the Chicago Tribune. The ads go back to 1871. The Chicago Tribune began in 1871.

The first spring following the Chicago Fire of 1871 has advertising in March to tempt people to shop. This March 1, 1872 front page ad collection has none from Marshall Fields in all of the entire 6 page issue. (For ease of reading look at bar on bottom of page for + sign to click to enlarge enough to read.)
John V. Farwell, a former partner of Marshall Field has his own enterprise, and he has an ad for his April 1 reopening at Monroe and Franklin.


Should one worry that Field’s store is not active? No, it has reopened in a barn that was renovated quickly just weeks after the fire. The news reports at that time indicated women were lined up around the block to get in. It may be that word of mouth, and reputation was good enough to have enough trade without advertising.

What the hat salespeople of Field’s might be concerned a bit about are two ads on March 3, 1872. On the front page Walsh and Hutchinson is making it known their wholesale house is operating, and will even provide hotel accommodations for the out of town buyers. Since so many structures burned with the fire, it seems lodging would have been at a prime.


The other ad is even more concerning for millinery competition. On page 5 the ad shows the opening of the first millinery concern in the former burned area, 258 Wabash, at Jackson. Hewes and Prescott reestablished themselves, but it is not known for how long, as no other documentation of them shows up outside of newspaper ads.

The Field’s and Leiter store, as it was still a partnership of Marshall Field and L. Leiter back then, were advertising on March 4 about special fabric goods, so women could get on track to make some summer gowns. Love the part of the ad at the bottom where one could find Butterick patterns on the second floor. They were still at State and 22nd St, in the barn.


By Mar 1, 1900 the Field’s ad was about 3/4 of a page in the 12 page newspaper. The big deal was the Silver Sale. Field’s had moved back to the Sate St location in 18__. What lady who went in search of silver would not have been tempted to look at hats as well?


On March 5, tho, the ad was one entire back page. Lots of temptations again for any woman of means to create some dresses, and trim their own hats. Veilings, previously to $.85, were available for $.25/yd. The ribbon choices were extensive. Tho feathers were not mentioned, they certainly would have been in stock, too.


A decade later ads were still used, but even better is a drawing of what is being espoused as the latest, a green sailor hat:


By 1920 the ads make note in a full page ad that Easter is approaching, and Fields has hats in five departments; French Salon, American Room, Sport Room, English Room, and Hat Shapes and Trimmings.


Finding hats sold at Fields in the vintage market is not too difficult in the Chicago area. Here are some hats from several vintage sellers showing hats:

Frocks and Frills in Wheaton,IL also is online at Etsy:

Pink beaded hat by Amy


Lilac floral hat by Marshall Field and Co.


Black hat by Leslie James



Straw hat by Mr. John


Sweet Ginger Vintage in Mayfield, WI, and also online on Etsy:

Straw trilby hat by Marshal Field and Co


FrouFrou4YouYou on Etsy:

Blue floral hat by Marshall Field & Co.


Red satin hat by Lemington


Black feather headband by Marshall Field and Co


Frocks and Frills hats:

Sweet Ginger Vintage:
Straw trilby hat:

FrouFrou4YouYou hats:


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