FrouFrou 4 YouYou

Chicago Millinery History: 1919 Chicago Tribune Newspaper May 12, 2015

normal_002George Bernards at 35 South State St in Chicago looks like a great place, but NO! There are no hats at this store, so this is the last you will hear of them. It was too bad, since the owner was George B. (possibly Bernard?) Friend. No hats; that was probably their downfall and they seem to have disappeared by 1923.

So on to the story of millinery in Chicago gained from the archived copies of The Chicago Tribune.

After holiday sales were heavily advertised at all the larger stores on January 1, 1919. Charles A. Stevens, Mandels, Marshall Field, The Fair, and Hillman’s ran full page ads, including hats. Charles A Stevens had a Daylight Basement ad for hats reduced from $5 to $3.95. The Boston Store had “new Hats” for $2.75

Rothschilds and Co featured an ad for hats between $3.95-$8.95 for “right now,” Jan 12, 1919. That means they would be perfect with the seal plush coats also on sale, for $29.75-$39.75. One also would get S&H trading stamps. Customers were admonished not to forget those, as doing so “would be like leaving your change on the counter.”

If one did not care so much about the S&H stamps, one might have been swayed by their ad to shop for a coat at the tonier Charles A. Stevens. Of the 5,000 winter coats available, plush coats at $19.75-$29.75 were of beaver plush, Yukon seal plush, Baffin seal plush, Esquimette plush, or Peco plush. Trimmings were of Dyed Skunk, Natural Raccoon, Natural Badger, Taupe Nutria, Dyed Opossum, Kit Coney, Moufflon, Australian Opossum, Flying Squirrel. Squirrel? It was also used as a trim for the even more expensive fur coat of Sealine, on sale for $165 from $195. One wonders if hats made of these fur trims were also made to pull the look together. Skunk around your neck, but also on your head? But is that any better than Flying Squirrel?


If a lady were fortunate to be able to leave the chilly Chicago winter and her seal with squirrel trim coat behind to head south, she would be tempted Jan 13, by the “Drooping Mushroom Sailor of Peanut Straw.” No price was given for these hats at Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co., but they also suggested the leghorn straw and the hemp hats as options for the south as well.

normal_003Or perhaps the shopper for a trip south preferred to see what Marshall Field and Co would have for travel essential millinery.


Whether a Chicagoan was wearing a coat or not, the skirts of dresses were narrowing. Not quite like the hobble skirts from Paul Pirotte of Paris at the turn of the century into the teens. But the issue was enough of a concern to have a front page article that the narrower skirts were slowing down trains, and physicians to express concern the style caused women to have swayed backs and “knock knees.”

Articles on fashion appeared in the Sunday newspaper. Fashions Bluebook by Corrine Lowe, from New York, for the start of 1919 shows a woman wearing a long suit with a medium size hat with small brim. A couple weeks later “Seeing the Time O’Hat.” by Corrine Lowe shows twelve hats on the face of a clock for the up to date look in millinery.


Fashions Bluebook short column during weekdays offered just a hint of hat fashion. High crown feather topped hat is shown with bottle green velour afternoon tunic dress trimmed with moleskin. The moleskin fur forms a collar which travels down the front, and edges about a quarter of the bottom of the skirt. A muff of the moleskin is the finishing touch. This Paris ensemble finds the hat to gain little attention compared to the copious use of moleskin.

For the best idea of what was fashionable in millinery that early Spring one would certainly not want to miss the Fashion Bluebook article of Feb 16. The full page coverage had about half devoted to an elegant drawing, by Gretchen Neuburger, of the mock store window with the leading hats featured. The columnist Corrine Lowe has outdone herself with her descriptions of the eight best in “Spring Straws Show the Fashion Wind.”
“Milan and lisere are the two straws of which one sees most. Lisere in combination satin or even with taffeta Is a trick which is fast becoming a habit and the central head of our window we find this illustrated by a Villitard model. The full crown of lisere is here corded with black satin which makes the jaunty one sided crown. A burnt quill caught by a jet ornament is the trimming. ”
“If you have a kind hearted profile, you may wear them, the new hats that turn back in a sharp cuff from the face. Such a hat is found in the lower left modeled of that of a woman seen at the Paris Ritz. Black tule, dotted with jet cabuchons- and jet, please remember, is playing on nearly every millinery bill- is the very thing to go for 6pm.
“In colors one sees, black, Victory Blue, (the same shade as in the French flag), much brown, quite a bit of beige, and still some henna or brick red. All in brick red is the last model -the one at the top left-which is a concoction in liscern straw, Georgette crown, and glycerined ostrich.”


The Fashion Bluebook drawings, other than the one Sunday full page feature, were usually focused on frocks. On Feb 21 two hats were the featured fashions. It seems the Napoleon style hat returns in red with black and red feathers. Glycerined feathers were essential to all hats that season.

But five days later, on Feb 26, all the rage in the US had changed to focus on turbans. First Lady Mrs. Woodrow Wilson had just returned from a trip to Paris. While abroad she obtained a high fashion turban, by Marie Gilbert, and it had created quite a stir. It was not just the style that caused a shopping surge, but the color as well. It was described as between maroon and rose, Eminence Purple. Just like that, the turban was back on top, or at least it was on page 3. It was expected in a State Street Store for Feb 28. It is hard to know if Chicago embraced the purple turban fad, as there were no drawings of turbans in any Chicago Tribune ads through March. On page 18, also on Feb 26, is the little midweek Corrine Lowe’s Fashion Bluebook, written before the Mrs. Wilson fad. It is a drawing of one wide black horsehair brim hat. The article tells of styles mostly called Directorie, “when no other label comes to mind.” Also appearing are some double brim Henry V hats, as well as “little flat Victorian things.” Those hats were probably already in production before Feb 26, but sadly many possibly ended up on a clearance table, if women favored the new turban.

Where would one wear all these fine hats? Everywhere and everyday: the theater included. Fortunately unlike when the Merry Widow played and caused a hat fad of Merry Widow OVERsized brim hats in the beginning of the decade, theatergoers did not latch onto those from Chu Chin Chow.



The available job opening for milliner employment starts on Jan 1 with Semco Sisters seeking Millinery makers $15-$25 (per 6 day work week), with working hours of 8:30-6pm. They were located at 925 W. 63rd St.

By Jan 4 there were four ads for millinery workers, Semco is still searching, but so are D.B. Fisk, Royal Trimmed Hats on Union St., and Mr. Zucker at Unity Hat works 238 W. Madison. By Jan 16 there were ten ads, the most for any day that spring, for millinery workers. There were some repeats from earlier ads, but also new ones for several, including Consolidated, Richard Hat Co, in Room 408 at 12 N. Michigan, and Marguritte on South Michigan Avenue.
In February the ads include daily repeats of Fisk, plus frequently seen Chicago Bargain House, National Hat Works on Wabash, Edson Keith, Madison, but they also add some local smaller houses. Occasionally one sees ads for the large department stores, and Gage hat.

normal_002Sterling Hat at 230(?)State indicated week work or piece work was available. At “16 cents” for straw braid work this gave the person working in another position, perhaps having moved out of regular millinery work or in an office position, a seasonal opportunity for some extra cash for many long extra hours of toil.

Then there were the now almost unknown fashion places, such as the Blackstone on Michigan Ave, Loren Miller at 4722 Broadway, Tilly Smith in the Stevens Building, and Mahoney at 5508(?)S. Halsted. Their ads mentioned millinery as well.

Thomas J. Phelan Co, (66?) E. Randolph, looked for apprentices and stock girls. A few others asked for apprentices, but the majority sought experienced help. With Easter only weeks away there was little time to train lots of new apprentices for high production companies. It may have been some companies who sought apprentices were not in a position to pay as much as bigger houses for experienced help, and were willing to get cheaper help. Or the pool of available milliners was shrinking and in desperation an apprentice might have to do.

Some ads only gave an address, such as 235 E. 47th St. and 745 Fullerton Parkway. The cost of placing an ad was not inexpensive for small operations, so the name may have proved not worth the extra cost.

One person placed an ad with little notice. The Feb 20 ad stated to call on G. F. Kauffmann between 3-7pm at the Palmer House in Room 35. If a girl were already employed and got home from work at 6pm, then read the paper, she was not likely to make it in time to meet the deadline. In the 1920 Illustrated Milliner, G. F. Kauffmann of Dubuque, IA is mentioned. The Encyclopedia Dubuque also lists G. F. Kauffmann, in millinery, with an address at 976 Main St, and in 1937 as 378 Main St., then listed as a wholesaler. Perhaps in seeking millinery trimmers for the spring season in IA, a recruiting trip was taken in hopes Chicago held some excellent candidates willing to relocate. Such a late in season search might have yielded girls who had tried the heavy workload at the other places with ads earlier, and were seeking a change. Somehow she found enough help to keep going.

Theo Ascher on Michigan Ave, Chicago Mercantile Co, and Goldstein Millinery, at 165 N. Michigan advertised for positions out of town. It was a way for out of town millinery establishments to purchase their supplies and also hope to find a pool of labor.

Mr. Weil at Chicago Mercantile at Wabash and South Water St. was the man to see for the person who wanted to work at home. “We deliver and call for work to pick up,” which certainly preserved the safety of the finished items. It was better than a woman trying to carry all this on public transportation back downtown. For piece work the cost of transportation would seriously impact the profit she made.

Hyland Bros, 84 E. Randolph advertised for yearly work for milliners to go to New York. Transportation was included. Just as Chicago had been a big draw for the rural girl to seek a job in Chicago, the allure of the bigger city of NY could also have had her move on once she had proven herself here.

It is hard to gauge how many “girls” we’re need to be hired by all those placing ads, except for William F. Chiniquy Co, 1700 W. Washington. “Millinery Workers Are you handy with needle? We could use 50 girls to work in ladies hats, either to trim or to sew crowns on brims. you can earn from $10-$20 per week. Come ready to work. ”
In the Blue Book of Commerce of 1917, under Section 22 millinery, there are four companies listed as wholesale to the jobbing trade. Chiniquy, plus E. Eiger and Bros at 1249 S. Wabash, R. Lippert and Co at 1048 Huron, and George Wagner at 207 N. Michigan Ave. Where the other three advertised for their seasonal help is unknown, but if 50 new hires were needed for spring by one, perhaps that meant 200 jobs for the group of four. A few days later their ad was for straw operators, which paid $40-$75 per week. This would have been astounding wages for a man or a woman, but this ad was in the Wanted Female Help section. It seems a few select women could actually make better than a living wage. Sadly this was seasonal work, even tho their ads never provided that bit of information. Only the ads from D. B. Fisk state the work was year round.

The millinery job openings in 1919 were of perhaps even more importance than some spring opportunities for the past few years. The soldiers were returning home, and reclaiming their jobs. Women’s opportunities for employment typically held by men were not as great as during WWI, but now was not the time for the independent sort of gal to look for a job generally held by a man. It was a good idea to seek woman’s work, and spring millinery held that opportunity. It was that or Western Union Telegraph, stenographer, or the potential new shortened course to become a nurse.

Leading department stores advertised heavily. The Fair was a mid-price line store.

The Boston Store had a basement with inexpensive hats just a couple weeks before Easter. The suits were “temptingly priced,” the hats were “pretty,” at $2.73. No big splashy ad for those hats.


Marshal Fields millinery was showing bright hued silks and slipper straws at the beginning of January. Red was the prominent color. Red had been all the rage in 1897 in Europe, which carried over to the US too. Perhaps it was hoping for a comeback.
Weeks later Marshal Field and Co. ran an ad Feb. 10 to start tempting women with what they would have to offer. The drawing of a brimmed hat looks like so many others, but they tell an enticing tale. They had sent a resident correspondent to the shows in Paris who sent back a drawing with watercolor to show more detail of the newest version. The small brim was even smaller in the back of a black straw, faced with robin egg blue, and ostrich feathers. It was a “modified poke shape.” No prices mentioned, but then most knew their hats like this would be costly.
It is no April Fools joke, Marshall Fields ad for April 1 is extensive in their attempt to inform the shopper about their millinery choices. The Debutante Room on the fifth floor, American Room on the fifth floor, the French Room on the fifth floor, the distinctive sport hat, and the English walking hat, both found in the fifth floor English Room. One wonders if there was space left on the fifth floor for any other departments. Of special note was the tempting tidbit that Field’s own French designer had selected the flowers from the world famous flower maker, Natalie Bourseul in Paris.


Carson, Pirie, Scott’s newest hats in February were being sold at $13.75, no small amount back then. Hillman’s, the Fair, the Boston Store, and Mandel Bros were regular advertisers as well.


For high end fashion, Joseph’s at 608-610 S. Michigan Avenue offered a wide variety of apparel. This included hats from $18.50 to $45. Not high, compared to frocks from $35-$145.

normalThe simplest and most impressive ad in February was on page 2 of the paper on the 12th. A small box with “Vogue Millinery Number Out Today.” No picture of a hat, but of the business shield icon, with a large V in the center behind a woman who could easily have been Marie Antoinette. To be so well known as a shop that one did not need to add an address, (524 Michigan Ave), prices or pictures was impressive. “Blum’s Vogue was a specialty department store founded by Harry and Becky Blum in Chicago in 1910. The original store was simply called Blum’s and was located in the Congress Hotel, then home to Sarah Bernhardt, Ethel Barrymore, and other famous theatrical stars of the day. Blum’s quickly became successful, and shortly thereafter the Blums opened a second store, Vogue, a few doors down. While Blum’s sold ready-to-wear clothes, Vogue sold custom-made garments. In 1924, the Blums bought their own building at 624 S. Michigan Avenue and began extensive renovations. Finally, in 1930, they moved to their new premises and combined their two stores into one: Blum’s Vogue. Blum’s Vogue was enormously successful, expanding to several locations in Chicago and eventually nationwide. It wasn’t until 1983 when the last store in the chain finally closed.”  normal_003

March brings the Spring Opening for Marshall Fields and Charles A. Stevens with extensive coverage on March 10. This was a Monday. While most people are familiar with a Sunday Tribune these days having extensive advertising, until 19?? Fields would never place ads in a Sunday paper. Other retailers perhaps felt they had the advantage in their one day earlier ads, but it does not seem to have been to Fields disadvantage to keep with their policy. Often Fields would have a full age ad on the last page of the Monday paper. On this day it is a Carson,Pirie, Scott ad. Their hat is a flower crowned sailor, one among many treasures in their Fifth Floor French Room for $20.

For the woman who liked to try her hand at sewing, and thought a hat was a worthy project, a five to seven illustration how-to article is the answer. Clotilde was the regular sewing column in the featured Practical and Fancy Needlework of March 9, and in March 16, 23, and 30, 1919.


The chance that a milliner makes the front page is slight, except if you are Mrs. Lenore Carne of Hammond, IN. Front page news for the theft of a diamond ring and just purchased Christmas gifts from Mrs. C led to the arrest of “Handsome Jack.”
It seems Mrs. C, with a husband in France, had been shopping in Chicago when she returned to her LaSalle Hotel, encountering Jack outside. They flirted, dined at a Cafe, then had some drinks, where things “get fuzzy.” She awoke at the Astor Hotel, with the gifts, her diamond ring and “Jack” gone. The nickname of “Handsome Jack” had some basis in recent history. It seems another scoundrel who played upon the emotions and pocketbook of susceptible women had ended up killing one of his victims, and was serving a life sentence in the Joliet Penitentiary. He had avoided being hung in 1914.
When Mrs. C. returned to the Dearborn St. train station two days before the New Year, she saw “Handsome Jack,” with her ring worn on his tie. His arrest led to police finding a black book of women’s names, some crossed off, on him. Providing the police with the name John Knox, his lawyer appeared without even a phone call placed by the supposed Mr. Knox. He insisted Mrs. C would not press charges. Perhaps without the black book that could have been true, as a married woman with her name on the front page involved in what might have been a serious marital transgression could hesitate to continue the unwanted exposure. Police were asking for other probable victims to come forward. The plot thickens to this story.
The next day’s newspaper indicated the trial was held over to Jan 7. Handsome Jack was dismayed at his appearance with two days beard growth, and said he would look better with a shave and a massage. His lawyer had appeared in court on his behalf, insisting he was a New York businessman and always a gentleman, caught in a “gross error.” When this had come up before the judge Mrs. C had explained the theft, but then collapsed in a faint, as women were known to do back in those days. Clearly she was spending more time in Chicago caught up in testimony, and was not getting any millinery creations started for the big spring opening she might have been planning. Luckily Easter was not until April 20 that year.
At least now for Mrs. C’s dignity, the story was buried on page 8. Of greater concern might be if the story was also appearing in the Hammond IN papers as well.
It is hard to say what happened, but it may have been the charges were dropped. Newspaper focus shifted to the death of President Theodore Roosevelt on Jan 6. What with all the news coverage for that, remaining World War I issues, Mary Pickford’s case of influenza, and the passage of Prohibition on Jan 16, 1919, Mrs. C’s troubles did not gain further coverage. The newspapers would be full of other stories that year from a race riot that went from Aug 27-Sept 3, and later the White Sox baseball scandal of the World Series.
And what of the previous “Handsome Jack?” He escaped from prison in Sept 1899 and it does not appear he was found. There was a good bit of newspaper discussion that in light of the escape, he should have been hung. Guess the newest Handsome Jack did not consider conning women too hazardous, and unfortunately neither did Mrs. C, or she could have avoided such a public humiliation. Perhaps the Jan 7 news article about Mrs. C and Handsome Jack had less attention than she might have feared. Certainly $5 hats in the ad to the right of the article from Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co. would distract many women with an interest in hats.



Chicago Millinery History: Spring 1958 April 23, 2015

The Spring of 1958 had many drawings and photos of millinery during the weeks preceding Easter in the Chicago Tribune. This look back is focused on the advertising and news coverage in that paper. Since many folks did not advertise nor gain exposure, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Benjamin Green-Field is not mentioned once, tho BesBen hats were selling like hotcakes that year. Sometime there will be a more inclusive version of the world of millinery here for 1958, but for now here are some tidbits.

Peyton Place, the movie, was playing the spring of 1958. It was the second highest grossing movie of 1958, mostly because of the leading lady, Lana Turner. Not only for her acting, but because her daughter killed her mother’s abusive lover, a mobster. Her daughter was not charged. The movie, tho considered racy in it’s day, was a sanitized version of the earlier book. Sadly the movie, not rich in hats, was not a fashion trend setter, as it was set in the early 1940s.
One of the actors in this film was Lee Philips, not to be confused with Lee
Phillip, who had a most wholesome image in Chicago. She had been the hat ambassador, Miss Easter Bonnet, in 1955 and 1956 for the Luci Puci line of Chicago made hats.

Fashion was facing a trend to a new style of dress, and the term chemise shows up in the description of many hats advertised in the Chicago Tribune newspaper from March through Easter, 1958. The chemise was a straight-line waist-less sheath dress with a below the knee length. Some versions had a loose or manipulated feature in back as a focal point.

Hats could also be used in advertising other things. Frozen food was pretty new in the scheme of things for the homemaker. Most refrigerators until recently were only able to hold ice cubes and a pint of ice cream.
Libby Foods advertised frozen peas with the photographed model wearing a John Frederic’s hat. She states “I’ll eat my hat if these are not the freshest tasting peas you have ever enjoyed.” One can only hope those peas were delicious. It was a crime to ruin that hat.

Instead of just looking forward in fashion, the newspaper also carried a regular feature to appreciate the good old days. “When Chicago Was Young” by Herman Clark, is a special column in the Chicago Tribune for a peek at history revealed in a letter written in 1910. The writer laments of the oversized hats worn by women in church the Sunday before, which had been Easter Sunday that year. She was referring to the fashion trend called Merry Widow hats, which came to fashion after worldwide success of an operetta of the same name. At least anyone writing such a column looking back at 1958 would not be voicing that complaint, as it was a rare sight to see a wide brim hat featured in any Chicago Tribune advertisements in The six weeks leading up to Easter.

To be up to date, one would want to read the noted fashion columnist, Evelyn Livingstone, with her article in the women’s pages, “Today with Women.” On March 31, in the Chicago Tribune, she has “Hats That Bloom in Spring.” Featured are a modified bowler by Dior, a spoon shaped black hat of starched mesh, accented by yellow-orange roses by Jacques Heim- Svend of Paris. Two floral calotte and cloche hats are also photographed by Gigi of Milan, Italy. These hats were available in the import collection at Marshall Fields. Imports held much appeal to the fashionistas of the day. Especially if it came from Paris, women paid top dollar to wear an imported hat. The less well heeled, or thriftier, bought one of many thousands of knockoffs sold each season in Chicago. It was not socially unacceptable to manufacture copies, and some manufacturers added value to the item by putting it right on the label.

Millinery class at Chicago park district field houses were offered, for the budget conscious woman. At Horner Park on Montrose, they were taught by Mrs. Robert J. Stack of 3300 Dickens. Classes were popular with neighborhood women who wished to design their own hat. The classes, twice per week, had begun in February. They were free, except for the cost of supplies. Mrs. Stack had worked in the millinery industry for years.

Just as in 1957 there are luncheon fashion shows the week before Easter. The Drake had Blum Vogue doing the honors, and Bramson’s was at the Sheraton lounge, who also did the Kungsholm Restaurant later in the week. The Sheraton brought out several individual collections, which included hats by Betty Owens at the end of the week. Sadly not a word has been found online about Betty Owens, tho this day must have been a thrill for Betty.
The Imperial restaurant was covered by Martha Weathered.
The Van Cleef and Arpels jewel collection was at Stanley Korshak, which might have had a few hats worn for good measure.

Not to be left out of the fashion show parade, Marshall Field’s held shows at both Old Orchard and the State St stores.
Earlier Marshall Fields had hosted an even bigger fashion show on March 10, at the Sheraton-Blackstone. Fashion Director, Mrs. Kathleen Catlin, brought the import collection of 52 dresses. It heavily featured the chemise, the newest look. Several hats adorn the drawings included in the Tribune article. Two were specifically presented by Givenchy. ” …high crowns: Wide brimmed silhouette is fashioned completely of black netting; towering pillbox of white organdy trails two full blown windsocks.”
This had the attention of the Chicago society elite. The hats worn to the event were well described. The room was “a sea of flowers.”
Some of the women were mentioned:
The attendees:
Mrs. Hughston M. McBain, and Mrs. E. Hall Taylor – mimosa
Mrs. Byron Harvey – beret draped with hundreds of white rose petals;
Mrs. William F. Borland – white straw beret (photographed);
Mrs. Kellogg Fairbanks – wide brimmed cabbage rose;
Mrs. Bruce Thorne Jr, Mrs. Maurice P. Geraghty, and Mrs. John A. Prosser – “black veiling with birds or butterflies”;
Mrs. Robert A. Gardener Jr- ” row of tiny brown velvet bows atop a veil”;
Mrs. Wesley M. Dixon – “white feather birds” head veil;
Mrs. Herbert P. L. McLaughlin and Mrs. George S. Isham – Bachelor buttons

Saks Fifth Avenue brought in their milliner from NY, to offer consultations in-store. On March 6 and 8, Mrs. Virginia Wallace was on hand to reveal the loveliness of the “Sweet butter straws prepared to melt.” These flower covered hats were priced from $10.95 to $14.95. They were available on the fifth floor in the Young Elite Hat section.
Bonwit Teller starts off March with a special event featuring a visit from Irene of New York, on March 3, and followed with a visit by Miss Alice on March 11 and 12. Miss Alice had also been there in 1957.

The article by Marylou Luther, “These Hats of Spring Revamp Vamp of 1920s,” provided an in-depth explanation of the Miss Alice hats at Bonwits. The hats to reflect the 1920s cloche and turban were from $45 to $65. The “Katy” hats of sailors and Bretons was exemplified by a green and white “houndstooth” straw with upturn brim and velvet ribbon bow for $39.50. It was called the Beau Catcher. A roller silhouette of organdy went for $45.

Bonwits Teller, located at 830 N. Michigan Ave. regularly advertised womens fashions, including millinery. March 21 had an ad for a straw cloche, Daisy Crazy for $9.95.

Bonwits silk organza with veil Merry Go Round by Betmar for $7.95 was advertised on March 24, 1958.

Bonwit was back to bringing in star milliners, by hosting Mr. Arnold 3/26 and 3/27. Seen in an ad was the “chemise cloche.”

The Thurs paper of that week showed a “puckish cap” of green fabric leaves with single rose in front center from Mr. Arnold and mentions his appearance at Bonwit.

Mr. Arnold may well have paid a visit to Bramson’s too, if he stuck around to the end of the month. At least one of his hats were featured in an automobile advertisement. It was a wide brimmed hat by Mr. Arnold in a tie in ad with the Premier Landau Lincoln car, which it seems was on display at the Bramson store, along with the hat.

It was a grand day when Miss Sally Victor visited Marshall Fields on March 4 and 5. Her hats were said to be a good balance for the shorter skirts that season. The one shown in the ad was priced at $85, available in the French Room on the fifth floor.

Marshall Fields has an ad identified as at Old Orchard, featuring vibrant Paris pink accessories. The cloche hat at $16.95 is drawn in black with white dots, so it impossible to know if the black was the pink or the dots. Other items in the ad were white gloves, necklace, carnation, and white with black dots silk shantung blouse, still leaving the question unanswered as to what was pink.

Another Field’s half page ad has three hats featured, described as skimmer, bubble and breton. These were available on the 5th floor in the
Debutante Room.

Rarely are ads seen for millinery on the lower level Budget Floor of Marshall Fields, but the March 2 ad has $9 hats. They had 163 styles of hats in this offering, which must have been a splendid sight to see.

A recurring column of the Tribune was Fashions By Angela. In a box article there were three hat drawings. G. Howard Hodghes hats of light straw from Lyttons of a wreath motif.

Mandel’s started off March with three days of in-store special informal modeling of John Frederic’s Charmers, the modest priced line. Miss Charmer from New York was doing the honors of modeling. The article covering the Mandel’s event referred to Mr. Frederic as Mr. Fred. Perhaps only the established fashion writer Evelyn Livingstone was allowed to use that name.

Mandel’s ad for March 9 has 470 hats available at the price of $7.70. On March 23 the Flower Chemise cloche $8.95. On March 27 Mandel’s shows a chemise Breton with flowers and veil for $5.95. On March 31 the ad was for the Chemise Brim, at $10.95.

It is clear that many sellers felt putting the hot word of the season, chemise, in front of any style made it the most fashionable hat of the year.

Mandel’s also had a price cut from $6.95 and $7.95 down to $5.85 the week before Easter. Perhaps the earlier advertised hats at $5.95 and $8.95 had already sold out.

But more than ads this time of year was the good will earned by Mandel’s for a hat fashion show held in their store. They had six college girls modeling hats made by patients of the Hines VA hospital and sponsored by the Red Cross. The winner was the Miss Vanguard hat which featured an Outer space theme. Other winners were a Hang it Yourself hat, equipped with a hanger, and one with fishing lures.

Rollback the brim by Hats by Sue $5-$75 3152 N. Central and 4902 W. Irving Park. This local milliner ran ads in spring, and this year only two were found. It is still common to come upon a vintage Hat by Sue on the Northside of Chicago. What is hard to find is the history of Sue herself.


Early in March the Fair featured an ad with a list of milliners they carried, and a drawing of one hat for $79.50 by John Frederics. This straw hat is described as a cloche, tho the drawing shows a wide brim hat, unlikely called a cloche by today’s assessment. The hats they carry run from $22.98 to $89.50. The milliners listed were G. Howard Hodge, John Frederic’s, Norman Durand, Mr. D, Suzy Lee, Phil Strann, Vincent DeKoven, Leslie James, Yvonne, John Andrews.

The Fair is showing a chemise roller of an upswept straw Breton by Roberta Bernays for $10.99. Another Roberta Bernays for $10.99 of rippled cloche, of pleated veiling was available in orange, white, pale blue, pink, mint and black on thier third floor milllinery salon.

Bonds at State and Jackson has a millinery department on their 4th floor featuring hats from $5.95 to $35 pg 22 two are shown, featuring flowers and veils. Another ad the next week on 3/31 for a $7.95 value for $5 for a Chemise Cloche of imported Toyo straw.

Charles Stevens was proud to advertise their new Hat Bar on March 7, 1958. It was on the second floor, with three hats shown. They ranged from $5.95 to $7.95.

Wiebolts, celebrating their “75th year” had sample hats marked down to $5.97 from $8.99 to $12.99. The fine print box also tells of reduced hats to $2.97.

Wiebolts flower covered rippled trellis frame hat for $15.99.

Weibolts shows a full age Easter ad on March 27, with three hats, ” deep cloches and saucy Bretons, ” priced $7.99 to $10.99 pg 26 On March 31 they share their two “young hearted breton” hats but are certain you are aware that the $7.99 hat will gain you 79 S&H Green stamps as well.

Carson’s advertised matching hats and purses, dyed to match byEverett. The prices ranged from $3.99-$5.99 for the hats, as presented by the manufacturer’s representative, Betty Donoghue.

Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co launched an irresistible contest featuring a hat covered in diamonds, on display in the Junia Room on the third floor, at the State Street store. Entries with the three closest guess won grand millinery prizes. The third closest won two Sam Budwig hats, the second won three hats, and the closest won a hat a month from Sam Budwig. Miss Lee Phillip was making a personal appearance at the store to model the hat on March 10. She was photographed wearing the hat, with diamonds worth between $10,000 to $100,000. The winner was to be announced on March 14 on the Miss Lee television program.
The four hats in the ad were by Sam Budwig ranged in price from $20 to $25.
A word about Miss Lee. Starting in Chicago by doing flower arranging demonstrations on local Chicago TV, she became the Weather Girl on the 10 pm news nightly. To improve her image, or create a hook to keep the local Chicago women watching, she had a new hat for each evening to reflect the weather. These were rented by the station from Raymond Hudd, a milliner who began in 1950. This was a pivotal boost to his career.
Miss Lee went on to marry, and became Mrs. William J. Bell. Together she and her husband created the top daytime soap opera TV programs, the Bold and The Beautiful and the Young and the Restless. They did well, and she still lives in CA. They had owned the Howard Hugh’s mansion.


GATELY Department Store
Gately’s department store on the south side of the city featured two Jane Morgan hats, a cloche and an upswept breton for $4.99.

GOLDBLATTS Department Store
Goldblatts featured six drawings of hats in their ad of many styles ranging from $4.99 to $12.99. Each of the six drawings were labeled: $4.99 ripple sailor chambre soi, $5.99 bouffant breton sewn straw, $7.99 Breton Swiss straw, $10.99 deep cloche bamboo straw, $12.99 imported toyo cloche, $12.99 chemise cloche grape wreath. In small print they also mentioned other hats were available for $1.99 to $3.98.

Another ad from Goldblatts for Easter hats also on March 30 showed five styles in prices $4.99 to $8.99 with a special mention that the hat could be purchased with the Hot Point Certificate. It seems when a customer had purchased a Hot Point product, of a stove, refrigerator, washer or TV, they were provided with a coupon type certificate for a hat at Goldblatts. The “OK IKE” program by Hotpoint was an incentive marketing plan to increase post war production of appliances. The program participants, Goldblatts along with other local appliance dealers such as Polk Brothers, advertised a free Easter Bonnet for the week before Easter of 1958. What woman could resist a new appliance without interest payments for a quarter of the year if one found themselves unemployed, no down payment with a trade-in, and deferred payments till July 1, plus a new Easter hat!

The Easter Sunday paper brought out the big guns. A full page ad from Goldblatts with 50,000 hats marked down to $2. It seems there must have been far too few hats selected with the Hotpoint certificates.

Sears ran an ad March 6, 1958 with an interesting combination, all for only $3.99, regularly $4.99. “You’d expect to pay this for the hat alone.” The hat was a natural straw banded to match the dress. The “Gondolier” was a sleeveless narrow waist, full skirt dress, with a matching straight brim hat. How did they come to have dresses at such a low cost, and with a hat as a bonus? Perhaps the hook was the hat, and the dress was the bonus. The time for sleeveless dresses was nowhere close to appropriate to the temperature of March in Chicago.
One might surmise that this style of dress could easily be out of fashion as the chemise style of a waist-less dress was gaining popularity. Perhaps their fashion suppliers felt the “New Look” of the late 1940s into the early 1950s from Dior would sit on the racks as women shifted focus to a straight line dress. Give them a hat and make the dress worth the risk of looking old fashioned. Certainly there were plenty of women across the US who would not consider the new style worthy of their limited fashion budget, and there were still plenty of Chicagoans who adored the silhouette of eight years earlier.

Sears had drawings of eight hats, marked down the week before Easter from $3.98 to $3.30. Hats were a common part of of full page advertising done by Sears.

Lane Bryant hat of flowers for $3.99. This ad was repeated a few times during the weeks before Easter. Most people may think of plus size clothes as the claim to fame for this company. In its early days it covered many fashion areas, long before plus size existed. What made their name tho was a focus on selling maternity clothing. Far more ads for such clothes were seen in the 1950s from Lane Bryant than all others put together. The baby boomer generation mothers of Chicago knew that store well.

What about the future women of Chicago? Little girls had hats for Easter too, but there were no big name designers, nor big price tags.
Kresge at their Chicago and 15 suburban stores shows two girls tie under the chin bonnets for $1.95.
Earlier in the month Sears had been selling similar hats for girls for $1.44, marked down from $1.98.

Before the swing to news coverage of brunches, women were mentioned in the papers for their finery at church. One consistently covered church was the Fourth Presbyterian Church, on Michigan Avenue, of what is now called the Magnificent Mile. When several hotel restaurants offered a contest with prizes for hats, and contests sometimes also for children’s outfits and men’s ties, it shifted the fashion reporting focus from church to mealtime.
Monday after Easter is the news report on the Easter brunch hat contests. The Drake had started their Easter brunch in 1933. Somewhere there must be a clue yet to be found as to the first contest. The Drake clientele in 1958 had some fun in the lobby with the hats worn by Miss Petrine Ronning and Miss Dahana Wood. Miss Wood is created with designing both hats, as well as those of Miss Helen Harrison and Mrs. Christopher C. Porter.
One thing is known, Raymond Hudd hats were winners time and again. A spring hat from Raymond had become the favored Easter bonnet. Tho not mentioned in the Tribune, the contests were covered by other papers as well. Raymond got his glory in the Chicago Daily News, now long gone.DSCN3124


Chicago Millinery History: Spring 1957 April 7, 2015




Finding the right Spring hat in 1957 provided a pleasant shopping opportunity. The Chicago Tribune newspaper had advertisements and articles about hats throughout the week before Easter.

Monday started the week with a list of Fashion Shows. The Drake had Blum’s Vogue on Monday, Charles Stevens led the way with three in various places, including the Spinning Wheel in Hinsdale, the highly regarded Indian Trail Tearoom in Winnetka, as well as in-house.

Marshall Field’s held in-house events at the newly opened Hawthorne room at Old Orchard in Skokie, and the now closed Narcissus Room on State St.

Carson Pirie Scott covered the show at the Empire Room of the Palmer House, and in-house two days that week.

Harding’s Restaurant had their show twice on Thurs., done by The Fair. It was repeated each Thursday thru May 30, except May 23.

Of greatest interest might well have been the one presented by Alma C. Muller of the Chicago Millinery Guild held at Stouffer’s Restaurant on W. Madison. Not a hint of anything else about Alma has surfaced online.


Marshall Field, and early proponent of newspaper advertising had one ad of special interest on April 1. They featured “flowering silk, our copies,” for $12.95. At the top of this post are photos of a Dachettes hat of flowering silk. Could Fields have been copying from Lilly Dache? Fields offered a “breton, the soft circle and the semi-slouch.” The more hats with styles specified, the more diverse the naming is over the years for many hats which may appear very differently than from the terms we associate with them today.


There would be a big chance for hat excitement when Mr. Arnold appeared in Bonwit Teller’s Michigan Ave store on 4/3, and again on 4/4/1957 with a hat featured in an ad for $65. That price is no surprise for the quality items from Bonwit’s, but it was certainly above what most women would have been willing to pay in 1957. Bonwit had an added bit of publicity with a photo in the ladies page section, of one of the hats with a caption about the upcoming store visit. Price comparisons of hats featured in ads that pre-Easter week included Marshal Field’s Budget Store selection of tailored hats for $5.95, the Fair $7.98, Lytton’s for $15, Sears for $5.98, and a wide range at Hats by Sue $5-$150.

But what about Weibolts’s hats, you ask? An ad ran prompting a perplexing question. What is a Chanel 57 Toby? It sounds almost like the make and model of a car. It seems going along with the imitation is the sincerest form of flattery idea, this store has copied a Chanel hat that must have had enough press in the US to make it a standout for this is their only hat ad this pre-Easter week. Priced at $8.99 it was a simple straw with rolled front brim, and “side swept style” with ribbon and bow on the side. Google search was fruitless in finding this original hat. The best I could do was to scan my only copy from 1957 of HATS magazine, to show that a good likeness of side swept appears in a Mr. Arnold on page 3 of “Gotham Gossip.” New Era Hats has a “profile toque” on page 9 in “Flattering Any Angle”, and the Martin- Giusti Co had created a block for the style Flare Front Profile Beret on page 18 of the article “Hat Blocks.” Although there is a regular column in each issue called Pariscope, they never mention Chanel, and this issue only revealed models from Gilbert Orcel, Claude St. Cyr, Jean Barthet, LeGroux, Le-Monnier-Bernard Devaux, and Jacques Heim-Svend. There were additional photos of a special show, the Tout Paris show, covering the details of that and other newsworthy goodies spread along the way from page 3 through page 21. img602



It was tough competition for the creative women of a church group, evident when they went up against each other at the Crazy Hat Contest for Edison Park Lutheran Church women’s group that week. They wore whimsical hats of their own design.The prize was a flower trimmed Lemington straw hat in box, donated by the Shopping With Miss Lee program, (Lee Phillip of TV fame). Several of the members were then to also work as saleswomen in the group’s Heavenly Halo Hat Shop, with items for sale after the luncheon, and open again the Saturday before Easter.

The Chicago Tribune newspaper April 6, 1957 issue had a feature on Sears and their donated catalog microfilm collection, showing an enlarged copy with hats. Hat prices not mentioned, tho the article tells that before laws in place, Morphine sold for 60cents per quarter ounce. Maybe that was to soften the blow for the husbands when they saw what they paid for the wife’s hats.


The week before Easter in 1957 is capped off with an article in the Chicago Tribune on Sat. 4/6 in the “Today With Women” section by MaryLou Luther, “Easter Bonnets for Teenagers. ” Photos of several high school girls are shown wearing hats by Mr. John Jr, John Frederic’s Charmers, Lily Dache’s Dachettes, and a few unnamed designs all available at Charles A. Stevens. Prices ranged from $12.95 to $16.95 for the single floral hat, and predominant straws, with the Breton named most popular of the nine shown.