FrouFrou 4 YouYou

Chicago Millinery History: Wagner-Simmonds in the Palmer House Postcard March 6, 2011

Filed under: Chicago Millinery History,postcard — froufrou4youyou @ 5:57 pm
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Here is a millinery
company with a location at the Palmer House. A fabulous location
for hats, and most everything else fun. The reverse side of the
card had it postmarked and sent from the New York office to a
client in NY. This company must have had enough business in Chicago
to have gone the lengths and expense to maintain an office in such
a high end location. Wm Reps was “in charge.” You never see that
these days on a business card. IF only he could tell us about those
hats at the terrific price of $24/dozen. This leads one to think
that Wagner-Simmonds was a wholesaler, competing with the likes of
Gage, D.B.Fisk, and Edson Keith. Since no other Wagner-Simmonds clues exist,
one could surmise the locals held onto the business of Chicago
rather handily. Once again visions of a hat shop in the Palmer
House dance in my head. Happy 65th day of 2011!


Chicago Millinery History: A Picture Postcard Aug. 18, 1906

Filed under: Chicago Millinery History,millinery,postcard — froufrou4youyou @ 5:53 pm
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There were days when
folks traveled that they took the time to have a photo taken. These
became postcards. Some old ones shine a light on photography, hats
and a method of communication sorely in decline: MAILING a
postcard. Nowadays we buy the pre-printed glossy photos cards, jot
a line and send them from far away places to those we believe will
appreciate the effort. There were two women who took the time for
their picture and our gratitude goes out to Katie and Elizabeth for
that wisdom. They wore their hats, and on August 18, 1906 looked
mighty stylish. Who the photographer was remains a mystery. It was
clearly a sitting event, and probably pricey. Were they here from
far away? The reverse side shows a postmark the following day from
O’Fallon, IL. which seems a couple hundred miles south of Chicago,
due east of St. Louis. They must have packed up and left Chicago
the same day as the picture was taken, to have mailed it the next
day. Unless Chicago was very different back then, a mid Aug day
would be very warm for those long sleeved high neck blouses. Hope
they also had hand fans to cool themselves, perhaps on a train ride
home. Heaven forbid they took those hats off to use as fans!
Perhaps the hats were purchased in Chicago which makes this card
ever so much more delightful. And then there is the
recipient of the post card, Mrs. S. Scruggs of O’Fallon. Was she
originally unable to go along on this trip, and this was all she
had to show for it? Somehow this card made it’s way to
Fredericksburg, VA to be sold by Chuck’s Postcards:
Maybe Chuck can tell us more. With 1000 cards listed he surely
knows where each and every one came from, right? However that
happened, there is much gratitude for his willingness to share this
treasure, and spark the imagination.
Happy 65th day of 2011!


Chicago Millinery History: New Hat from Old shop February 26, 2011

Filed under: Chicago Millinery History,postcard — froufrou4youyou @ 4:48 pm
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The Midwest Chicagoland Vintage Clothing, Jewelry & Textile Show and Sale in Elgin, IL this weekend is delightful, and a treasure trove of hats.

The seller, Diane Landry was a pleasure to work with, and she participates in many other shows as well. How could one not be impressed, her business card is ideal. She is in booth 12, but the event ends Sat. One could also check out the event in June and Oct. at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul. Next year it is back at the Hemmens Cultural Center Feb. 24-25. Mark your calendar now.

This hat is from The Chic Chicagoan shop, wherever it may have been. The workmanship is superb, and it has held up well, probably since the 40’s.

Finding those illusive Chicago shops was the goal of this excursion. Three other hats were major temptations as well. One black from the Tailored Hat, one green straw from Sally Greenbaum with a feather from the seller Wehaddit of Eagan, MN in booth 81 upstairs (see picture below), and a black and white silk by Ubaldo Gowns from a booth downstairs, but at $235 that number, and not the number of the booth remains.

But there is always a fish story; the one that got away. More precisely, the one I sadly got away from. Rainbow Vintage from Toledo, OH had a wonderful Bes Ben of navy and white beading. Can’t stop thinking about it.

Happy 58th day of 2011!


The Merry Widow Hat Revisited February 25, 2011

Filed under: millinery,postcard,Uncategorized — froufrou4youyou @ 9:24 pm

A few more of those postcards to make one smile:

A bit more Googling gives a lead on a 1997 article:
The writing style of Jeff Jewell is enjoyable, as is the content of his article from The Bellingham Business Journal Feb.1997, Welcome to ostrich capital of NW.
He too addresses the issues of the millinery world, but at the far end of our continent in Bellingham, Washington. One delightful tidbit he included was the impact of these Merry Widow hats on movie goers:
“In 1909, D.W. Griffith’s widely distributed three-minute film “Those Awful Hats” humorously portrayed a movie audience jockeying to catch a glimpse of the screen amid high-altitude headwear. Played between vaudeville acts, the short ended with “Ladies will kindly remove their hats.”

This hat must have really been a head turner.

Happy 56th day of 2011!


Millinery Postcard: It’s a great game January 9, 2011

Filed under: millinery,My Fair Lady,postcard — froufrou4youyou @ 11:41 pm
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There seems to be a problem for the fellow sitting behind the woman with the BIG hat. BIG hats were fashionable and some folks did not find that convenient. This card gives is the gentleman’s perspective.

What are the proper manners in hat wearing?

Men take their hats off indoors, when greeting a lady, or if they just do not want them on anymore.

Women take their hats of only when the do not want them on anymore. Doesn’t seem fair, but that has been the “rule” for a long time. Many people may do as they please, but most women would remove a hat if it created an obstruction.

Watching My Fair Lady is a wonderful lesson on millinery manners.

If you are not familiar with the movie, Wikipedia can help:

“My Fair Lady is a 1964 American musical film adaptation of the Lerner and Loewe stage musical, of the same name, based on the film adaptation of the stage play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. The ending and the ballroom scene are from the 1938 film, Pygmalion, rather than Shaw’s original stage play. The film was directed by George Cukor and stars Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.

The film won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director.[1]”

Among those eight awards was the one for costumes for Cecil Beaton, who designed the hats worn in the film. It would be interesting to know what became of those hats.

But if you really wanted any of the three incredible hats from the film you are in luck. They are available to you through the website

Baron Hats has been making hats for films for years, and created these reproductions based upon a request:

“It all started when one of the supreme “Grande Dame’s” of Atlanta High-Society contacted us earlier this year and requested that we make her exact re-creations inspired by the most famous of the “My Fair Lady™” hats for her world famous Grand Spring Cotillion and Ball. Our Master Hatter, Mark Mejia, took up the challenge and spent weeks researching the hats. He then spent many more weeks working and reworking the hats, until they finally met his hyper-perfectionist standards. His efforts were a smashing success, and having done all the “hard work” of discovering all the secrets of how to custom make these exquisite recreations, we now can offer them to you on our “World of Woman Hats of Hollywood” series, with a special “Eliza D Collection”!
“The astronomically luxurious and delightfully ostentatious “Ascot” hat from “My Fair Lady™” was originally designed by the legendary Sir Cecil Beaton, (who designed basically all the hats, costumes, as well as the production design of the entire musical!). This extraordinarily complex, classy, and capricious creation is the absolute personification of eloquence. Used in the eye-popping mono-chromatic Ascot horserace scene, the hat became an instant classic, and is without a doubt the most recognizable woman’s hat in cinema history. Sir Beaton had his work cut out for him, since the lyrics of the “Ascot Gavotte”, in which she wears the hat, described the event as a “smashing, positively dashing thrilling, absolutely chilling” spectacle, and he took those words to heart when designing the hat.

When we started our recreation, we discovered that in order to create the eloquently graceful “sweep” of the massive brim, and give the fabric a perfect “l’eau calme” opencast, Master Hatmaker Mark Mejia had to actually uncover the dimensions of the original blocks, and then rebuild these blocks to exacting specifications. He went to enormous expense and time to get these blocks just right, but it was well worth it, since the hat he created is like no other, and its grandeur and irresistible charm could not have been achieve any other way!

The “Ascot” is covered in specially treated silk-satin, and comes with hand-made silk-satin roses. It includes the two delightfully flamboyant hand selected and naturally harvested specially dyed ostrich plumes (one black, the other white, of course), along with a hand-wrapped silk-satin black-white ribbon swirls around the towering crown. It is finished with a hand-made churrigueresque silk- satin bow and black grosgrain hand-stitched binding.”

Hope you have deep pockets, as the Ascot, the most riveting reproduction hat of the movie, is available for $1,400.

Happy 9th day of 2011!



Millinery Postcards Jan. 2011 January 8, 2011

Filed under: Chicago Millinery History,millinery,postcard — froufrou4youyou @ 7:20 pm

What does it mean”If these cost 89 cents I’d get married?”

Is this from an era that hats were such a significant part of the budget that a fellow had to think twice about marriage because of the expenses of a wife?

The border has pen drawings that were printed in the original that make this seem from a Victorian era. The vintage flowers are sewn onto the card over an outline in glitter of the crown to provide perspective and the idea this is a hat.

Was this a card a fellow sent a prospective suitor? Since the back was blank one can imagine he never found the right girl with a reasonable hat need.

What would you have thought if a prospective suitor sent this to you in 2011? Even allowing for inflation I’d wonder just how cheap he was, not a good reason to even think about marriage.

There are more available when one searches eBay, but goodness knows who is buying them. NOT the fellows of 2011. Of the dozen reviewed some were embellished and some not. Those mailed went from men to men, women to women and men to women.

Especially loved the one with a red feather from Walter to Miss Hilda Olson at 6426 Bishop in Chicago.
Again with the mystery, did she become Mrs. Walter ” I can wow you with a red feather?”

If you can’t stand wondering yourself perhaps you need to own the card:


Happy 8th day of 2011!


Millinery Postcard from a Century Ago January 1, 2011

Welcome to 1-1-2011!

A century ago folks sent greetings to friends for many holidays using postcards-the penny postcard back then.

Looking for a way to send an updated version I emailed some millinery fans a Christmas collection of many I found online. It was a joy to search for hat or millinery and find that there were 70+ pages of listings to choose from just for that holiday.

Why not do the same for New Years too? Look for the many choices on ebay and share the joy.

The one that really caught my eye was one sent January 1, 1911 by a fellow named Richard.

“May the New year draw bright and happy for you. ”

Mailed 12-30-1910 from Cincinnati to Miss D. M. Hartkemeier, 882 Sudlow Ave Cincinnati, OH.

I hope she enjoyed it, and perhaps sometime in 1911 became Mrs. Richard “Mystery Man.”

1-1-11 postcard

I liked it so much I bid on it with one of my fav postcard sellers, but alas I have been outbid. And so now there is another mystery-who wants this card even more than I? Perhaps someone from Cincinnati. Anyone out there have a clue? Just in case you can’t resist following the course of this card, check for yourself:

And while you are at it you can check out nadya_and_joe assortment of 23,000+ postcards.

I bought a bunch yesterday-hats of course. Once they arrive there will be more blogs about those. And perhaps more mysteries.

Happy 1st day of 2011.