FrouFrou 4 YouYou

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.

 

Copyright The Quigley Publishing Company, a Division of QP Media, Inc.

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.

Copyright The Quigley Publishing Company, a Division of QP Media, Inc.

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.https://wordpress.com/view/froufrou4youyou.wordpress.com) 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.

Copyright The Quigley Publishing Company, a Division of QP Media, Inc.

“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.”

http://chicagoan.lib.uchicago.edu/xtf/view?docId=bookreader/mvol-0010-v002-i02/mvol-0010-v002-i02.xml;query=1926;brand=default#page/1/mode/1up

Copyright The Quigley Publishing Company, a Division of QP Media, Inc.

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

Copyright The Quigley Publishing Company, a Division of QP Media, Inc.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chicago Millinery History: Martha Rahl March 11, 2017

pullmanbldg2

Martha Rahl had quite the location for her millinery establishment at 202 S. Michigan Ave, the Pullman Building, seen above, at the corner of Michigan and Adams. This is the west side of the street, across from the Art Institute of Chicago. The block west of Michigan was Wabash, and on that entire block north of Adams were the millinery meccas of Gage Hat and Edson Keith, primarily wholesalers. It was an excellent location, her last location.

downtown street building drawing of lots

Looking at the drawing of the Pullman Building in block 5, https://chicagology.com/goldenage/goldenage067/, one sees the western half of the block north, block 4, with the Palmer House across from it. The Pullman building had been built in 1893, by the Pullmans who built rail cars, with two other mega buildings south of the downtown area. They put their executives in offices of this ten story building, and included the first floor of shops. At the time of this map it shows the south edge of the Pullman building butting the Palmer House stables,(Red arrow), probably an unpleasantly fragrant place. By the time Martha had her shop in the Pullman Building the stables had been replaced in 1904 by the Chicago Orchestra Hall, now known as Symphony Center. The other shops in the Pullman building in 1926 included linens, gloves and corsets, books, cigars, the Tip Top Café, and best of all, Fannie May Candy.

Fannie May candy has been around since their first shop in 1920 at 11 N. LaSalle, north of the financial district, several blocks west of Michigan Ave. By the time we find Martha’s shop listed in a directory in 1923, Fannie May had 22 shops, making their $.70/lb candy quite the draw for anyone near the building. That foot traffic could only have augmented the foot traffic into Martha’s shop as well.

Backtracking to the earlier years for Martha and we find her listed in a directory for Houston, TX in 1900, as a trimmer at Miss Katie G. Welch, located at 615 Main St, and rooming at 818 Main St. Katie also roomed at the same location.

Sometime after that she came to Chicago, as the first ad we find is in 1905.The shop was at 30 N. Michigan and remained there till she moved a block away, sometime after 1917.

Martha does not appear in the 1900 Polk directory, the 1904, 1906, 1910 Blue Book, nor oddly the 1910 directory, yet she advertised in the Blue Book back in 1905. The same ad appears in the 1915 issue of the Blue Book, so she did not give up on it entirely.She appears in a 1917 Directory still at 30 N. Michigan, suite 615.

The 1910 census has Martha, 26, as a milliner living as a lodger at 2018 Independence in Chicago. A residence address in 1923 is given for 4462 Woodlawn, and her occupation is listed as ladies ready to wear. http://www.chicagoancestors.org/sites/default/files/downloads/1923ra-re.pdf

ChicagoBB1915_0820

It seems likely Martha read thru the 1904 issue and looked at the millinery competition, thinking she could do well in reaching out to the biggest spenders. Maison Novelle ran a full page ad just inside the cover. The ten milliners with ads were scattered around the city. None had shops on Michigan Ave, tho two had locations in the Masonic Temple. Many other shops existed, they just did not advertise in the Blue Book.

The Masonic Temple was built in 1892, and was considered the tallest building in Chicago from 1895-1899 at twelve stories. It’s location on the northeast corner of Randolph and State is now a Walgreens, across from Macy’s store, the former Marshall Field store.

Chicago_Masonic_Temple_Building

The two milliners from the Masonic Temple were Mrs. Marguerite Prucka on the fifth floor, and Madam Hunt on the twelfth floor. Madam Hunt’s ad also included her title as President of the National Milliners Association.

Hats were sold in department stores, apparel shops and millinery shops. Knowing who your overall competition is remains a fundamental aspect of successful marketing, especially in the immediate vicinity, including apparel stores and department stores.
Two of the big players nearby in the high end fashion apparel stores would be Blum’s and Leschin.

Blum’s Vogue

624 S. Michigan Avenue was built in 1908 for the Chicago Musical College,  headed by Florenz Ziegfield Sr. Mr. Ziegfeld was the father of the Broadway Follies producer Flo Ziegfield, Jr. Topping off at 15 floors  in 1922 they had the building renamed the Blum Building.

Leschin

318 Michigan Ave South.
In 1916 Jack Leschin, who had handled the millinery department for the now defunct Ferguson Dept store, opened in the old Ferguson location. Capitalized at $100,000 he partnered with several who had been associated with Bonwit Teller in NYC.
In 1921 “Samuel Leschin, milliner” leased space for 10 years fronting State St at Jackson for millinery. Is this a relative of Jack’s?

An ad from Leschin on March 4, 1925 features a lace and taffeta dress for $75. That is a high end dress, $933.37 in 2017 dollars.
Oct 8 1929 full page ad features Leschin designs, including draped on the head hats for $18.50. Since the Stock Market Crash of 1929 started Oct 24, one wonders how many shoppers regretted some of their expensive fashion investments. The Depression impacted all retail, but Leschin weathered things well enough to move to classier digs in 1931.

Department stores two blocks to the west of Michigan Ave, on State Street, drew a high concentration of shoppers.

Perhaps Martha had the time to read the Sunday Tribune newspaper on March 1, 1925. That year Easter was April 12, so the last minute rush was not upon her just yet.
To look at the ads for millinery from her closest competitors, one finds a variety of price point items. Mid-priced and lower priced millinery could be found at $5 for Felts at Mandels, Hillmans, with a 26th Anniversary Sale, of 5000 hats at $4.45, and Sears, Roebuck and Co. at $3.45-$3.85.
mar 2 1925 fields ad
Since Marshall Field and Co. did not advertise on Sunday, one would need to wait for the full page fashion ad of Monday, March 2, 1925. The drawing in the center of the page shows the narrow lines of the dresses, and the cloche hats. It was Spring Opening that day, with plenty of loyal customers headed downtown to make their selection. The paragraph on the right side of the print section advises the reader to select a “Wee Sleekit Beastie” rhinestone pin of horses, owls, elephants, dogs, peacocks and lions for $1.50, as they “are quite correct for Spring bonnets.”

carsons ad mar 2 1925

Carson Pirie Scott and Co featured some hats at $15 in their ad.

mar 1 1925 fashion article
One of the fashion articles March 1 indicated the silhouette had not really changed, and an ad for the high end Johnson & Harwood completed the other half of the page. Three pages filled with the women of society and club activities would have caught Martha’s attention, as her clientele were likely to include some society ladies. Keep in mind the Blue Book ad twenty years before which Martha ran in 1905, and in 1915, had her hats costing $10-$150.

Directories for the city with the Pullman Building mention the Martha Rahl shop thru 1930. It makes one wonder if the Depression took it’s toll on the business.

Sadly tho, it seems the spring fashion pages of 1925 were the last for Martha herself, as for unknown reasons she died on July 19, 1925. She had lived on the south side, and was buried at a south side cemetery, Oak Woods at 1035 East 67th Street.

Martha may have only lived 43 years, but she saw a lot of hats from Michigan to Houston to Chicago, having had one of the finest shops on Michigan Avenue.

Name: Martha Rahl
Birth Date: 30 Sep 1881
Birth Place: Battle Creek, Michigan
Death Date: 19 Jul 1925
Death Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois
Burial Date: 21 Jul 1925
Cemetery Name: Oakwoods
Death Age: 43
Occupation: Manager – apparel shop
Race: White
Marital Status: S
Gender: Female
Residence: Chicago, Cook, Illinois
Father Name: Walter Rahl
Father Birth Place: Scarnton, Pennsylvania
Mother Birth Place: New York, New York