FrouFrou 4 YouYou

Chicago Millinery History: Spring 1956 January 26, 2016


Spring is headed for Chicago in 1956 and it will be most welcome. March advertisements in the Chicago Tribune newspaper tease readers with fresh new coats and hats. Clearly too soon to be worn just yet, tho the temperature was predicted to be mid 50s, on March 1. This is warm enough to happily anticipate the warmth of spring soon to come. Easter arrives April 1, so it is not too soon to decide just what hat to wear.

The Fair features a large expanse of fabric coat, but the icing on the cake is a cherry hat. Roberta Bernays designs run $12.98, in seven colors, including Dior blue, available on the third floor Millinery Salon. For the cherry lover these would have been a bargain, as later in the week one would have to go to Evanston or Highland Park to Edgar A. Stevens to pick their cherry hats from $27.50-$35.

Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co has a three day special of hats for a mere $8. But if you wanted a real bargain of a white hat, head to Sears for the $2.55 sale!


For those with deeper pockets there is excitement at Mandel Bros on March 1, and March 2 in the French Room, on 5, at the State St store. Russ Russell, a Chicago milliner, will be sharing his “Portrait of a Lady” hats, ranging from $29.50-$45.


Some more devoted to high fashion would want to wait a bit to see the newest from Paris. Rea Steeger reports “From Paris to Chicago by Air” features Givenchy, Dior, Fath, and Sven creations. The high end copies and originals would likely show up at Marshall Field’s within a few short weeks.


March 2, a Friday, had only one hat shown, at Charles A. Stevens, for $10.95. Friday newspapers focused on food and all the grocery ads to send the homemaker in the right direction for Kraft Velvetta cheese, one pound for $.47.


March 3, Saturday has nine hats shown, within a feature on suits, showing interest for suits in the back as well as the front. This article in the Today With Women pages, shows fashions sold at Charles A. Stevens.


March 4, and things improve with the Sunday paper. A $3.98 lilac hat at Lane Bryant, and a $3.19 hat at Goldblatt’s department store. The paper features many mid price and lower department store multiple page ads. Great if you are looking for furniture or household items, not great for hats.

The Fair showed one for $7.95 by Chapeaux Louise, and Hats by Sue showed a hatbox, stating hats were $5-$25.

The Wilson Hat Shop on S. Ashland had one hat featured for $10.95.

The 53year old Gately’s dept store on the south side was showing a small hat for $5.98.
Jan Bark, who created hats in Chicago, was doing a special appearance at The Fair with a hat shown priced at $16.95.


Stanley Korshak has a striking hat with scarf for $39.50.

The best news is offered by Carson, Pirie, Scott, who will be starting a series of fashion shows, featuring millinery as of Tues. March. 6, at the Empire Room of the Palmer House. Although the 3/4 page ad mentions the show, the drawings are of dresses by Mollie Parnis, Herbert Sondheim, Anna Miller, Harvey Berin, Oleg Casinni, and Adele Simpson. Some of the names are still well recognized today.

March 5, Monday starts a new fashion week. Saks Fifth Avenue is showing Coconut Meringues, priced at $17.95 for a Blinker Bonnet, and $18.95 for a Breton, in navy, white, black or beige. They could be found in Moderate Priced Hats on the 5th floor at 669N. Michigan Ave.


Bonwit Teller, at 830N. Michigan Ave featured a daisy chain hat for $35 by Irene of New York, in white, yellow, pink, navy and black. The best part was one could meet Irene while in store Tues or Wed.
Mandel Bros shows a $29.50 Model T Skimmer Straw. On the other hand the Today With Women article shows a photo of a very similar hat, again called a Model T, by Irene of New York at her appearance at Bonwit Teller in white, certainly priced higher than the Mandel Bros one.

Marshall Field’s Budget Store has rolled out all the stops with $3.30 hats.


Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co has gone all out with a full page ad, showing hats and shoes. The hats were by Sally Victor for $79.50, Sam Budwig for $20, Mr. Arnold for $45, Mr. Phil for $20, Wm. Silverman for $29.50, and Chanda for $69.50.

March 6, reveals Maurice L. Rothschild has told of an upcoming fashion show Wed, March 7, of hats, including their own line of Ronnie hats. Also to be shown by Miss Mary Wyman, a NY hat stylist, were those of Mr. Arnold, H. Howard Hodge, Alfreda, Gardner, Helen Joyce, Mr. John Jr, Chanda, Phil Strann, Silverman and Adrienne. For added allure would be 3 hats awarded as door prizes. A special pair of photos by the newspaper show 2 hats to be included in the event; one a Pilgrim Breton by Mr. Arnold for $55, and Salad Bowl by Ronnie for $15.
Other ads have a straw swathed in organza shown by Saks Fifth Ave from $25-$29.95.
Kay’s Millinery Supply 17 N. Wabash, ( formerly 320 Michigan Ave) has sample hats $2 -$5, as well as flowers from $.10-$.50.


March 7 has only one small hat ad from Stevens for a little “belt and buckle” hat for $7.95. The real interest for fashion reading is the article by Rea Steeger on the narrow silhouette. Photos are shown of a narrow skirted suit at Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co, gowns at Bonwit Teller and Elizabeth Arden, and one photo of a large oversize inverted bowl of a hat, from Elizabeth Arden. Elizabeth Arden? Yes, from the 1910 cosmetic company, which was started by Florence Nightingale Graham of Canada, who dropped out of nursing school to move to NY and follow her dream. The fashion show, sponsored by the Chicago Fashion Group, was held at the Morrison Hotel, built in 1925, but torn down in 1965 for the First National Bank Building.

March 8 Cherries on hats are now appearing on hats at Sears, for $3.99.
A full page hat ad for Marshall Fields shows six hats priced $13.95 to $69.50.
Mandel Bros has an $8.95 trio of hats “Snow White dwarfs all others for Easter”, including a hat with the hottest trend, cherries.


March 9 took a break from hats in the newspaper, but then March 10 made up for it.
Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co has a vine covered cloche for $7.95, but their real story is a fashion show for teens, including several hats mentioned and shown. The article mentions teens are invited and it will be “complete with soft drinks on the house.” The hats shown at the event were Betmar and Madcaps priced from $5.95-$7.95.


March 11 is a big day for advertising household items, and a pink washer and dryer for $339 shows a woman in her suit and hat heading out for the afternoon as she is now free from the time consuming ways of the old days to handle that laundry chore. It is hard to be tempted by the “sissy sailor” hat by Jane Morgan for $6.98 at Madigan’s, when there is a PINK washer and dryer to be purchased.

Lane Bryant lilac hats for $6.98 look just like the hat they advertised on March 4, or perhaps lilacs were such a big hit they bought more, though at a higher price.
The main article of the Women’s page is “Spectacular Hats For Spring Call for Brighter Eye Makeup: Don’t Look All Hat and No Face,” by Eleanor Nangle. The photos show two hats by Tatiana of Saks Fifth Ave, and one each from Emme, Mr. John of John Frederic’s, and Laddie Northridge.

March 12, has an ad from Weiboldts for a Doree wide brim hat for $18.95, but it probably gained far less attention than the ones from The Fair.
The Fair advertises a hat by John Frederic’s for $52.50. Hats ranged from $ 15.95 to $69.50. Names mentioned also included Vincent deKoven, Leslie James, Schiaparelli, Suzy Lee, Agnes, H. Howard Hodge, Adrienne, and John Andrews.

A news insert photo is captioned with an enticement to a striped beret and scarf set at Lytton’s Chapeaux Boutique, for $13.95.


March 13 Marshall Field’s full page “Pace” ad reveals great pride as customers are invited to the first and only U.S. appearance of noted Parisian milliner, Svend. Svend was from Denmark tho studied in France, before having shops in Denmark and Sweden. He had worked with Jacques Fath, before striking out on his own. Five hat photographs reveal all different designs. Even if purchasing a hat was not in the budget, one could attend a fashion show of his hats in the Walnut Room for only $1.50.

The day before an import fashion show had been held at the Mayfair Room of the Sheraton Blackstone Hotel, where 250 women had the first glimpse of Svend and his hats, along with a primarily Dior clothing presentation.

Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co also had a full page ad, of “Oh, those beautiful blondes.” Featuring pearls, gloves, handbags, hose, all in shades of white, plus one hat for $16.95. Very lovely ad, but not nearly as exciting as a real live Parisian milliner.

March 14 had plenty of ads for mink stoles, but hats were absent. March 15 shows a hat at Kerman’s on Michigan Ave for $12.95, but it barely holds your attention once you see the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co ad for Miss Lee. The noted Chicago television personality would be present for two showings of hats, and the event was to include a contest for one of ten Sam Budwig hats. To win, one had to provide a written entry response to “Why I Like the BIG change in hats.”
Weiboldt’s placed a half page ad with seven hats ranging from $6.99 -$15.99.

March 16 includes a different approach to hat shopping, the mail order. A little ad with a form to complete and mail in to Bonwit Teller at 830 N. Michigan Ave, and $7.95 brings you a rose covered headband hat by Brod. Many colors to select from, or perhaps one should get a few different ones. If a trip to the store was possible, they could found on the first floor in the Headband Dept. They must have stocked a great many to call it a whole department.

Hat reporting and ads took a day off on March 17, though plenty of green ones were most likely worn, it was St. Patrick’s Day. March 18 and the Sunday Tribune brought out far more ads, as now Easter was just 2 weeks off. Goldblatt’s has hats for $6, and Lord’s in Evanston has an $18 platter style hat. While in Evanston, or up in Highland Park, the Edgar A. Stevens had a $15 capulet of flowers. Hats by Sue has another ad this month, for those who shopped north side local on Irving Park or Central.
Big things are happening downtown, tho. Bonwit Teller will have Miss Emme present Monday, and Marshall Field’s State St store shall have the hot designer, Laddie Northridge.


Where to go first? Since the Chicago Tribune Magazine insert article on Easter fashion shows a charming $95 Laddie Northridge hat, Marshall Filed’s probably had a better turnout. They also had a Lilly Dache hat for $98, and a Mr. John for $75 shown too.


March 19 has a full page ad for Carson Pirie Scott with hats from $10-$49.50, including hats by Louis of California, Sam Budwig and Mr. John.
Stevens little ad shows a $7.98 number. Mandel Bros has a hat for $14.95, but of interest is their Easter Coupon book for $25. One bought the coupon book on credit to be paid off over months, to purchase Easter clothing and accessories. By the time the hat is paid off, it is out of style.

Weibolt’s has hats $7.99 and $8.99, with The Fair $7.98, and Maurice L. Rothschild at $12.99.

Best news yet? Goldblatt’s has CHERRY hats for $3.99.


Today is the day many have waited for, the full page article on women’s hats with flowers, showing a selection of nine flowered beauties. Front and center is a Laddie Northbridge at Marshall Fields. The others are Mr. Fred of John-Frederics at Bramson, and the pretty things at Martha Weathered, Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co, Charles A Stevens, Mandel Bros, Bonwit Teller, and Saks Fifth Ave.

Pickings are slim, as March 20 shows no hat ads, and March 21 has only one from Charles A. Stevens for $29.98.

March 22 has one wondering if Bonwit Teller has hit on a marketing miracle as this week again they have a mail in ad for a hat, a straw Breton for $8.95 by Jauntee.


Also advertising is Saks Fifth Avenue with a $22.95 “white lace cobweb.”


March 23 and March 24 have no ads, but do not fret, March 25 boasts a Bonwit Teller Balenciaga hat for $45 of blue meringue glacé with pleats. Goldblatt’s has $7.99 and $9.99 hats as the only others shown.
March 26 has Mandel Bros for $16.95, and Carson Pirie Scott and Co for $8.95.


March 27 has nothing, but fortunately Marshall Filed’s has saved an ad for March 28. The $20 Lemington hat is a “1956 revival of the 1910 cloche.” It looks nothing like what we would call a cloche today. It appears more like an oversized pillbox that comes down over the brow with an indented crown.

For anyone who avoided hat shopping things are getting down to the wire. March 29 only shows a $ 8.95 blonde hat at Edgar A. Stevens, up in Evanston or Highland Park, or $5 straws at The Fair.

March 30 is Good Friday, and not a big fashion shopping day, with food featured in ads to get the holiday meal goodies. March 31 is the last chance for those who have neglected things far too long, although there are no hat ads to show you where to find your hat.


Perhaps what you are really looking for is an after Easter bargain. Sunday April 1 does not disappoint. Goldblatt’s has 50,000 hats for $2 each. YES, $2. But if you wished you had purchased that Lane Bryant Lilac hat, never fear, it is back again at $3.99


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: Pretty Lady Picture- The Orpheum Photo Studio April 10, 2011

Filed under: Chicago Millinery History — froufrou4youyou @ 9:33 pm

It’s a fun day for vintage when the folks at Antique and Resale on Harlem in Chicago have the annual 20% sale in spring. LOTS of hats, but other goodies too. Plenty of vintage photo from Chicago were most intriguing.

A woman of several decades is standing in her wide lapeled coat, and wearing a hat that was more than tall, it was much bigger than her head. It seems the feathers will really do that.

It was taken in an unknown year at the Orpheum Photo Studio at 110 & 112 S. State, opposite the Palmer House, Chicago. That Palmer House of much notoriety.One wonders if she was a guest at that hotel, or a Chicagoan.

Perhaps it is time to put in a good word for Palmer perseverance. The original Palmer House was built and finished just  days before the infamous Chicago Fire of 1871.

Wikipedia gives us this background:

There have been three Palmer House Hotels at the corner of State and Monroe Streets in Chicago.

The first (known as “The Palmer”) was built as a wedding present from Potter Palmer to his bride Bertha Honoré. It opened on September 26, 1871, but burned down just thirteen days later October 9, 1871 in the Great Chicago Fire. Palmer immediately set to work rebuilding, and with a $1.7 million signature loan (believed to be the largest individual loan ever secured at the time) constructed one of the fanciest hotels in post-fire Chicago.

Designed by architect John M. Van Osdel, the second Palmer House Hotel was seven stories. Its amenities included oversized rooms, luxurious decor, and sumptuous meals served in grand style. The floor of its barber shop was reputedly tiled with silver dollars. Constructed mainly of iron and brick, the hotel was widely advertised as, “The World’s Only Fire Proof Hotel.”[1] Famous visitors included presidential hopefuls James Garfield, Grover Cleveland, Ulysses S. Grant, William Jennings Bryan and William McKinley; writers Mark Twain, L. Frank Baum, and Oscar Wilde; and actresses Sarah Bernhardt and Eleanora Duse.[citation needed] It was completed in 1875.

By the 1920s, the business in downtown Chicago could support a much larger facility and the Palmer Estate decided to erect a new 25-story hotel. They hired Holabird & Roche to design the building. Between 1923 and 1925, the hotel was rebuilt on the same site — in stages so not a single day of business was lost. At the time it was touted as the largest hotel in the world.[2]

In December 1945, Conrad Hilton bought the Palmer House for $20 million. In 2005 it was sold to Thor Equities, but it remains part of the Hilton chain.[3

Time to rekindle that hope for a hat shop in the Palmer House? Why not, it must be meant to be if it that name keeps showing up everywhere one turns.

Happy 100th day of 2011!


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: Parker & Tilton Hat Manufacturing

Filed under: Chicago Millinery History,millinery — froufrou4youyou @ 5:45 pm
Tags: , ,

The Parker and Tilton company created a most interesting printed item April 12, 1873. On a card stock weight sheet busy cherubs border the story of the “elegant hat establishment.”
Was this a poster for opening day? The company goes back to the pre-American Revolution days when Mr. T Tilton’s uncle started the Johnathan Hatch store. “The oldest hat house in the United States.” With that pedigree it is clear one would want the world to know you have been well regarded. The center drawing of the building with a man on horseback attests to the beginnings. The fun of reading this in part is the use of a font where the current letter s looks almost like an f.

The reverse is even more mystifying, and a tad scary to hold, as it seems to be printed in gold. It refers to Summer of 1880 at 171 State St, Palmer House. It is only part of what seems to have been printed. Perhaps there were some leftover larger sheets of the printing from 1873 used for a trial of initial printing of the 1880 ad poster? The reverse is cleanly cut off, but with it’s feather border it seems to be a quarter of the 1880 poster. It seems the cherubs have been replaced to remind one of the importance of feathers on hats in 1880. It mentions a factory located in South Norwalk, Conn,  not too far from the hat manufacturing location of Teo Tilton’s father,  Boaz Tilton in Danbury, CT mentioned on the 1873 side of this document.

With Wholesale and Retail hats this might have been a company who saw the market after the Chicago Fire of 1871, and only moved west based on speculation. When the name Johnathan Hatch is googled, it brings up nothing on Johnathan, but an interesting connection to John Hatch who seems he could be related from that era and location. Johnathan may well be related to “Timothy Hatch, born June 13, 1767 in New Haven, New Haven, CT; died April 24, 1813 in Army Cantonment at Burlington, Chittenden, VT (War of 1812); married Eleanor Gage c. 1791 in Ferrisburgh Twp, Addison, VT?.” This comes from the page:
The name Gage brings some speculation of another sort. How did it come to be that there was a well established Gage millinery enterprise already here? It could easily be connected.

So much for the Tilton part of this document. Who was Parker? Was the Parker name a relatively unknown name in Chicago? It is listed first; done alphabetically?

More mystery. More searching needed. Anyone with clues?

Happy 31+28+6=65th day of 2011!