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Chicago Fashion and Millinery History: The Chicagoan Magazine Part IV Fashion Advertising April 25, 2018

Fashion ads were plentiful in The Chicagoan. The first issue, June 1926 featured ads from the one high end fashion store, McAvoy, at 615 N. Michigan Ave. There was a 1/6 page ad for The Sports Shop of Lake Forest, with one shop at 633N. Michigan Ave, and another at Market Square in Lake Forest. Many of the intended readership had summer homes in Lake Forest, or along Lake Michigan, to escape the heat of the city. The back cover was devoted to CD Peacock for jewels. They had been in operation since 1837, when the city was first incorporated.


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The following issue had those same advertisers, as well as Hartmann luggage, the Louis Vuitton of it’s day.

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Perfume appears in the third issue, as well as Pearlie Powell on Michigan Ave, south of the bridge. The ads from Toujours Moi were repeated at times, all with a similar look.

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The Nov. 15, 1926 issue has a a very informative ad from Pearlie Powell, with many top notch French designers in stock. They were certainly well enough established to be able to buy from so many leading designers while in Paris.


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The available issues for 1927 start with July, but the only fashion ad was from Pearlie Powell. Perhaps others felt with so many readers on vacation this was not the time to spend on advertising. The last issue of July has one fur ad, Berman Furs, but then no fashion ads until Sept 24, when F.A. Arendt Importers from 171 N. Michigan Ave ran the first of two ads.

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1928 is off to a start with the Jan 28 issue including an ad from Seidler Imports at 6N Michigan Ave, which they continued to include into at least 1929.;query=1926;brand=default#page/8/mode/1up


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The first Saks Fifth Avenue ad for their NY store appears  Aug 8, 1928, and they continue periodically until, and beyond when they can announce their Chicago opening in 1931. Sept 22 reveals a Marshall Field ad for the new line, Marfield. It tells us each month in the first week they will be featuring exciting new stock.

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Charles Stevens gets on the bandwagon in December 29, 1928. This was a banner issue for fashion ads, since it included Saks Fifth Avenue, McAvoy, Seidler , and among the newcomers: June Modjeska Shop at 616 Rush, Sonia at 416S. Michigan, Dobbs hats at Dockstader and Sandberg at 900 N. Michigan Ave. The issue came out earlier than the publication date, providing readers with gift giving ideas.

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Martha Wethered was a store in the Drake Hotel and another across the street on the west side at the corner of Oak. They placed their first ad 10/2/1929, just before the stock market crash which created issues for rich and poor alike. Altho Martha’s stores survived the Depression, and endured a total fire loss, they ended up owned by Bramson, which also eventually went out of business many decades later.

One wonders how the advertising sales person for this magazine felt when thinking of the other fashion advertisers that issue. Those included Charles Stevens, Saks Fifth Ave, Blum’s Vogue, and other ad newcomers Betty Wales,


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This seems like a good place to pause. Perhaps another couple of dozen ads will be added to this post at a later time. In the meantime, please indulge yourself in a feast of Art Deco with the online issues:



Chicago Fashion and Millinery History: The Chicagoan Magazine Part III Fashion Columns April 24, 2018

The last issue of The Chicagoan came out in 1935, but the best fashion advice came in July 1933. The article “Budgeting Your Travel Wardrobe with a Thought for the Day After Tomorrow,” by Faye Ford Thompson Carter provides over a half page of copy and six photos.


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The photos feature the looks from Saks Fifth Ave, opened just months before, Powell (That is Pearlie Powell just south of the bridge on Michigan Av, whose ads gave prices in a range of $89-$125.) Leschin, Blackstone, and Martha Wethered.

At the height of the Depression some readers were still able to travel, and the right look was important. Expensive, but considered worth it. Recommended for this wardrobe were items designed to carry over to regular use afterwards. What an oddly practical suggestion. Even during hard times, the wealthy were making do.

That wardrobe required a travel suit in a light tweed or heavy cotton, as the starting point. That should be supplemented by a sheer suit, a “two or three piece costume of heavy chiffon, or light-weight silk.”

Sport clothes of cotton dresses, “bathing suits and beach or pool suits,” at least two. “And remember that simple beach dresses are smarter, this season, than pajamas…” NO one wore nightwear pajamas the season prior to the beach, in fact nightwear only had gowns; no PJs to mention for women. These beach pajamas were specifically designed top layer outfits just for the beach. Since they were no longer “smart,” no need to clutter up the closet with those.

For evening chiffons or soft crepes and laces are best. Don’t forget evening jackets.

The correct travel wardrobe also needs accessories. Silk or linen pliable crown hats for packing. No mention of bags and shoes! Certainly one did not use the old season ones either, but their reader was left to follow other articles to determine what was best.

What could this new travel wardrobe cost? Let’s compare items from the shops frequently advertising in this publication to the list. These are approximations.

Travel suit in tweed $100

Sheer suit $75

Cotton dresses (2, one for each day of this short vacation) $50 x 2=$100

Bathing suit (2 required at a minimum) $25×2=$50

Beach dress $25

Evening dresses (2 required as one would not re-wear it a second night!) $75-100×2=$175

Evening jacket $50 perhaps this could be acceptable to wear again the second night?

Hat (4= travel, daytime, beach, evening) $30×4- $120

Rounded out to $700 for this five day trip would convert to 2017 dollars as $10,809. Add in shoes and bag for $70, add on another $1080, meaning approx $12K for this trip. Since the Century of Progress was in full swing, one could just by their wardrobe while in town here.

$12,000.00 for five days.

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Now back to an assortment of fashion columns over the years. Starting with the third issue in 1926, Aug 1, the column was called “The Boulivardier.” This article was authored by Marjorie Capron. What makes her an authority? One surmises good taste and a life style familiar with at least higher middle class standing. Deep pockets perhaps, and a willingness to shop till she drops in her role of reporter. This is the kind of task one feels could cost more than the projected income from the writing job.

Marjorie did her research on the Boulevard. AKA Michigan Ave, or currently referred to as the Magnificent Mile. Marjorie went south of the mile when visiting Pearlie Powell. Pearlie had started advertising in the third issue of the magazine in Aug 1926, see above. (Another blog article covers some of the Powell enterprise. Since the offices of The Chicagoan were at 154 E. Erie, before an eventual move to Dearborn, this gal got around. It was a good idea to visit the shops who advertised in the magazine.

Pearlie Powell was favoring gowns of crepe, trimmed in velvet for fall. The I. Miller shop favored patent shoes. The article gave short mention for a few other shopping trends, buy luckily an ad from Helen Heffenberg’s Paris-Chez-Vous shop at 111 E. Chicago gave readers a reminder to check there for their latest items.

The Sept 15, 1926 issue has this column written by Paula (no last name). She tells us McAvoy will have new furs. They had been advertising since the first issue came out. Helen Haffenberg’s turn to be acknowledged for costume jewelry and dress flowers.

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“At Pearlie Powel’s we are show a rose moire evening dress that made us drop tears of longing.” Perhaps it was the bow back which caused such emotion, or a similar one worn by Elsie Ferguson at the Blackstone. Not only is it important to inform their dear readers of the right style, but also who gets credit for wearing it first.

Coats at The Vogue and Nelle Diamond are in leather, ideal for football games proclaims this column’s writer, Orrea for Sept 1, 1926. Again no last name is provided.

Oct 1, 1926 had Orrea telling readers of clearance items, especially at Peck and Peck. Nightwear gets it’s due at Kermans with a white crepe trimmed with black lace and bl;ack satin mules in red. For black shoes in satin, moire and velvet, I. Miller has the goods. Coats need notice and Rena Hartman has a tan kasha with lynx collar and cuffs. Best of all, Leschin has velvet hats in tan, black, green and a rather new red. “The smaller hats will be needed with the fur collar coats, in velvet or felt.”;query=1926;brand=default#page/1/mode/1up

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Oct 15, 1926 it is Orrea writing again, but fashion is basically limited to the in thing, the feather boa.

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November brings us K. Hullinger writing the column. McAvoy frocks are tops, but one must see the black chiffon velvet wrap in the window. Pearlie Powell has a window with a black velvet gown and wrap. Pearlie and Blums have pretty unmentionables, aptly mentioned.

Nov 15, 1926 and K. Hullinger has outdone herself with the column covering three pages, much of it the holiday and gifts. On the fashion end black hosiery is credited to Irene Castle McLaughlin. Irene was a dancing dervish with her first husband before he was killed in an airplane crash. Remarried, well, she commands attention for her bobbed hair as much as her feet.

Green is a popular color in many things. Hats are mentioned at Blums, for a calf hat, to wear with calf coats. Hodge (G. Howard Hodge) is now at the Allerton building and has “the best display, …with a green felt with black satin turned up brim.”

Another author rounds out the first year with the Dec 1, 1926 issue. Carol McMillan covers much of the pages 25-29 with all sorts of holiday food shopping advice.

For fashion she has been to an unnamed location and talks shoes. “Again I paused before a shoe display in which a pair of slunk (unborn calf) with cherry patent vamps lifted their toes above the others.” The trend had become “a new pair of shoes for every outfit.” “Our customers buy for four to fourteen pairs in one order.” And to think we believe shoe wardrobes are a thing of the twenty first century.

There are columns in all issues beyond 1926, and further coverage will be provided for those in the foreseeable future.

Next up are the Fashion Ads. LOTS of ads.










Chicago Fashion and Millinery History: The Chicagoan Magazine Part II- The Target Audience: The Wealthy April 23, 2018

This magazine was aimed at the wealthy and the hope to be wealthy Chicagoans.

Ten questions are posed by Arthur Meeker  Feb 25. 1928 to determine where or IF one could be among the social elite Chicago 400. Those rarefied individuals are those with money, likely old money, power and presence. One question, #4 pertains to women. “Do you own a shop? ” Highly desired if on the Gold Coast, and it must be “just for the fun of it.”;query=1928;brand=default#page/1/mode/1up


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Six months before the stock market crash there was one article of interest to women. The magazine did regular articles on the elite clubs to which Chicagoans belonged. For the most part they were for men.

Women had the Chicago Women’s Club from 1876 to 1999; The Fornightly Club, still in existence; and The Service Club of Chicago, still in existence since 1890.

If any of these were covered in an article they remain to be found. The one which was covered was the Women’s Athletic Club., which is still in existence. It’s move to the Michigan Ave location in 1929 warranted attention.
On April 13, 1929 Helen S. Young dissected this club. Lest you imagine this as a fitness operation, hold that thought. There was a swimming pool, but also massages and primarily fine dining. In 1929 it had a $4,000 membership fee. In 2017 that would be GREATER THAN $57,000. Of most interest is that there was a 400 person wait list, which meant waiting till a member died. This new location, with a ballroom for debutante balls might mean some nonmembers could get a glimpse when invited to some festivities.

Debutante events were mentioned with regularity in The Chicagoan. Early reporting for this publication was in the Sept 15, 1926, issue featuring Ellen Borden, Glee Louise Viles, Chauncy McCormick’s niece, Noel Stone of Baltimore, Katherine Thorne, and Dorothy Rend.

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Another sign of wealth was an automobile or even two. Sometimes they were referred to as limousines, and there were hired limo drivers as a dedicated employee of a household. In 1926 a The Chicagoan article was entitled “The First 100 Limousines.” It provided insight into the the first 100 license plate holders in IL. The Packard was the most popular auto. Seventeen auto plates were held by women in IL, fourteen of them in Chicago. Two women had two cars each. Mrs. F. W. Upham had two Lincolns, and Mrs Florence G. Lowden had two Packards. The remaining women had 11 Cadillacs, a Pierce Arrow, a Peerless, a Nash, and a Paige.

In 1900 there were only 10,000 cars in the world, but by 1910 there were 130,000 cars, 35,000 trucks and 150,000 motorcycles. The first state to require registration was New York in 1901. In 1901 in IL there were no plates, only a pin worn on apparel of the driver. All states required licensing by 1918.

Applications for plates were due by Dec 10, but a person could request the same number. #1 was held by Mr. Sidney Gorham of LaGrange, the author of the IL license law.

On to the first issue of the last year of issue, Jan. 1935. Who knows if they already suspected April would be the last issue or not. The Depression had been an problem since 1929. Thank heavens for the repeal of prohibition in Dec, 1933. Now at least one could drink their troubles away publicly, tho the wealthy did a fine job of it even during Prohibition.

In the 1934 first issue of the year available there were ads for alcohol. Over 80 total pages in the Feb 1 issue and there were eight full page alcohol ads and four partial page ads.  In this 1935 issue of 52 pages there were eight partial page ads, plus the only full page, from Martini and Rossi vermouth. There was a serious loss of advertising dollars over the year.

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The Table of Contents was not included in the first few years of the publication. In some earlier issues the Table of Contents covered an entire page. There are plenty of page number problems if one were to devote time to looking for them. Sometimes there were author credits with the title and not with the article. Spelling is a skill, and a variety of versions of a name appear.


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What were the wealthy to wear to the favored destinations of Miami, and Hawaii?Advise is given over several pages of the destinations. A two page illustrated article told what to wear, but neither the index nor article indicated who was advising on these lovelies.

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Where did the issues of this magazine find other advertisers? What else were the readers to desire in products and service? A tip of that melting iceberg of ads ran for beauty giants Dorothy Gray, Helena Rubenstein at 670 N. Michigan Ave, and Elizabeth Arden at 70 E. Walton. Many perfumes were popular, including Guerlain Parfume.

Popular restaurants abounded, even outside the Gold Coast. Travel destinations blossomed from international to regional, such as Dell View Hotel at Lake Delton, WI, at $5 per day, including meals. Be sure to pack your things in your Hartmann bags, as they had advertised from the very first issue.




Chicago Fashion and Millinery History: The Chicagoan Magazine Part I – The Book, The Magazine

The Book

book cover

In 2008 Neil Harris wrote The Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age. The first source of information for this blog series on the magazine came from this book. It is a highly enjoyable read about the magazine, and has excellent visuals of covers and copied pages.

Mr. Harris started his journey finding bound copies of perhaps the majority of issues in the University of Chicago Regenstein Library. The original issues were donated by an alumni, Julia Fay Hecker.

One aspect of the magazine not fully explored by Mr. Harris is the male vs female preponderance of writers. When it comes to fashion, one might think female writers would be the expected population. It was, but there are times when some were not likely given the credit as were the male counterparts. One process for authorship was to refer to the writers of fashion as The Chicagoenne. More than once the fashion column had that name, and later the authorship was such. There was an indication the Chicagoenne could have been a group of at least three, basically anonymous, authors.

Mr. Harris does give acknowledgement to writers early in the book, and paragraphs in an appendix section, Contributor’s Biographies. In the early pages mention is made of staff Susan Wilber, Irene Castle McLaughlin (yes, the dancing star of the era), Alicia Patterson, Dorothy Aldis, Vera Caspary, Janet Ayer Fairbanks, Mrs. John Borden, Lucia Lewis, and “sometimes editor” Ruth G. Bergman. 1. In the Appendix section seventy three men were listed, and eleven women were listed. 73 vs 11, hmm. Of those eleven several were not in the original early page group: Marie Armstong Hecht (Mrs. Ben Hecht, for those who care that her husband had fame), who was the first editor. Jolly good, a woman had a key position. The other additional women authors from the Appendix include Genevive Forbes Herrick, Elsie Seeds, Herminia and Irma Selz, and Ethel Spears.

While reviewing each fashion article of all the issues available, there are some additional names to be found when one gets to the last part, Part V of this blog series. If you look at the Index, Ms. Wilbur had the most pages mentioned with a total of seven. (Does Dear Reader sense there is a feminist slant to this blog series? YES, this whole FF4YY blog has been aimed at millinery history, a feminine fashion topic, and particularly the women who contributed to the industry.)

The magazine costs were likely significant as this was a classy high grade paper publication. Issued twice a month initially, for a few years, it fell to a monthly in 1931. Some gaps were acknowledged, but it is hard to pinpoint without the full collection in the library. “But subscription fees fell quickly from the ambitious five dollar annual to 1931 to three dollars and finally two.” “The April 1935 issue, down to 50 pages, turned out to be the final gasp.” “No warning, no announcement.” 2.

Although one might think it highly risky for another publication to come out during the Depression, Esquire had an impact. Esquire premiered “October, 15, 1933 and sold out at 105,00 copies, the second issue at 400,000.” 3. Overall The Chicagoan only had 5,900 copies sold.

The Chicago World Fair, also known as the Century of Progress in 1933-1934 had excellent coverage in The Chicagoan, and likely carried it through longer than perhaps it would have lasted otherwise. But without the Fair and the new Esquire favored by men, who likely paid for most of the subscriptions, subscriptions dwindled. There were just not enough wealthy people around to carry this magazine further.

The Magazine

Fortunately the library website has digital copies. Although not every issue is present, it is a most impressive collection.

The Chicagoan, published from 1926 to 1935 in Chicago, was explicitly modeled on the New Yorker in both its graphic design and editorial content. The magazine aimed to portray the city as a cultural hub and counter its image as a place of violence and vice. It was first issued biweekly and then, in a larger format, monthly, ceasing publication in the midst of the Depression.

Along the course of this five part blog you will find many links. Just reading the posts without perusing the digital copies would be unfortunate. You can get Art Deco images and the wider variety of content beyond fashion mentioned in these blogs.

Background on the book and magazine, The Chicagoan, this post, Part I.

The Target Audience: The Wealthy in The Chicagoan Part II

Fashion Columns in The Chicagoan Part III

Fashion Advertising in The Chicagoan Part IV

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Female Authors of The Chicagoan Part V Although this topic seems a little removed from the actual world of fashion, these women impacted fashion just as much as a movie or food critic. When Part V will appear remains unclear, as the research has only just started. Perhaps most will have disappeared from history and little will be found, but hopefully enough to make the topic of interest. Now if only I could find photos of them wearing hats, to gain a little insight into their own wardrobes.

IS there a chance this magazine could appear again? A valiant attempt was made by J.C. Gabel in 2012, but has not come to a point one can relive the glory years.



1. Neil Harris, with the assistance of Teri J. Edelstein, The Chicagoan:A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age (The University of Chicago Press,  2008),   13-15.

2. Neil Harris, with the assistance of Teri J. Edelstein, The Chicagoan:A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age,  24-25.

3. Neil Harris, with the assistance of Teri J. Edelstein, The Chicagoan:A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age,  26.