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: Saks Fifth Ave on Michigan Ave in the 1920s. April 2, 2017

Saks Fifth Avenue was established in New York City in 1924. They had branched out with Palm Beach, FL and Southampton, N.Y, resort stores successfully in 1928, and then decided Chicago was the next on their horizon. Opened at 840 N. Michigan Ave, in March  of 1929, they faced serious long established competitors. In the log written by the head of Charles A Stevens, a worthy competitor, there was concern of several of their employees having been lured away to be employed by Saks.

Saks found their newest home in a recent hot spot, in what is now a still vibrant fashion shopping Mecca, north Michigan Ave. It is oft referred to now as the Magnificent Mile. It was only after the opening of the Michigan Ave Bridge/DuSable Bridge with the Tribune Tower on the north side in 1920 did old Pine Street become a desirable destination. The Drake Hotel, between Walton and Oak, anchored the north end of the business, hotel and shopping expansion. 

SAKS AD 2-17-29

Feb 17 a group of north Michigan avenue retailers combined to be featured in a full page Chicago Tribune advertisement, with a map in the center. The Saks store ad indicates an early March opening. They would have been in the same Michigan Chestnut Building as two shops in this form of weekly Sunday ad, run over the next few weeks. The Chintz Shop would not have competed, and may have welcomed the arrival of Saks. Later the Don Lynn fashion shop may have had great reservations about the future.

In a high end magazine of the era, The Chicagoan, Argye Will wrote in the March 30 issue. The second floor features over 300 models, essentially, “each and every attractive.” Shoes in the most popular style, “Souvenir,” a combo of kid and lizard, snake or patent are perfect for daytime. Petit Point shoes are $50, Mules are $18.50. IF one did not spend all thier money on shoes, they could get the $295 Petit Point handbag. Nightie sets were $158, and were shorter, just two inches below the knee.

The Women’s Athletic Club at 626 N. Michigan opened in April, 1929 and was a great draw to this hotly developing shopping area. They were the new home March 1 of the first branch of a successful shop on Diversy, the Leslie Shop. http://glessnerhouse.blogspot.com/2013/02/womans-athletic-club-of-chicago.html

One should not confuse Leslie with Leschin, another fashion spot. Leschin had Jack Leschin listed as a manufacturer of millinery in the 1920 census, living at 831 Ainslie with his family. In 1910 he had been a manager of a cloak factory in Kansas City.

McAvoy at 615 N. Michigan Ave ran an ad March 11 to welcome Saks. McAvoy’s ads regularly boasted of their Fashion Board, made up of prominent Chicago women: Badger, Farrell, King, Madlener, Meeker, McCormick, Mitchell, Otis, Winston, and Winterbotham. Another ad of theirs also on March 11 mentions clothes in the Debutante room started at $45 (equal to $635.35 in 2017.)

Saks must have been recognized by the world of criminals as well as shoppers as a place of value. June 15 found them robbed of $5,000 cash and $15,000 in jewels at the close of business, in a terrifying holdup. One wonders if Miss Florence Geraldson, the cashier, had been a former Stevens employee who wished she had never left. The thieves escaped, having worn “canvas gloves and sneakers.” 

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Kleenex was on sale in a large cosmetics ad Sept 8, 1929, and again in Nov, at Saks for $.33, in the new larger size. Hopefully the wise women invested, as the stock market crash was just weeks away. Kleenex had started in 1924 as a Hollywood product to remove theatrical makeup and cold cream, which was why it was still featured in the cosmetics department at Saks. In 1926 “A test was conducted in the Peoria, Illinois newspaper. Ads were run depicting the two main uses of Kleenex; either as a means to remove cold cream or as disposable handkerchief for blowing noses. The readers were asked to respond. Results showed that 60% used Kleenex tissue for blowing their nose. By 1930, Kimberly-Clark had changed the way they advertised Kleenex and sales doubled proving that the customer is always right.https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-kleenex-tissue-1992033c

For fashion, Saks sought the well heeled client. They were proud to feature the designs of Jane Regny https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Régny

For the person who pulls themselves away from the newspaper headlines daily about the world covering Zeppelin travels, including a stop in Chicago August 29, they may have noticed the full page ad Sept 3, 1929 for the newly opened jewelry store on Michigan Ave.

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After checking out the new place, then one could head over to Saks for some lovely items from Molyneaux. If that did not draw one, perhaps the ad on the sixth for the allure of Vionnet fashions did entice one to the store. The social elite of the city were returning from their summer homes in Lake Forest, Wheaton and Barrington, as the season was about to start here again. Attending a debut of the chosen few young women certainly required a gown from a Paris house, even if one had not toured Europe to select it there oneself. 

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No other ads were placed by Saks in the Tribune during the early fall of 1929, tho Sept 28 alerts one to the new furs from Mr. Perry A. Weinberg. Perhaps they were trying other papers to see what kind of response the others drew. Or they realized the magnitude of financial woes ahead, and felt it better to conserve their advertising dollars. Whatever financial concerns they had, they still proceeded in expansion to two additional floors in the the building they occupied, as reported Oct. 5, 1929.

By mid Sept it was clear there were financial concerns for the city. Headlines had told of the county being unable to pay their bills, especially salaries, including those of judges. They would get IOUs thru the end of the year. A reassessment of property in the county was a hopeful way to be fairer, and gain more tax revenue. That had potential but as people would be losing jobs in the future, it is not too likely as many would be able to pay those taxes. Sept 19, 1929 had a Tribune headline that the city had a  32%  deficit. That would play out to include no pay for plenty of their employees as well, including school teachers. That day they feared the dismissal of 2,000 city policemen and 800 firemen, a potentially dire situation. The city had reassessed real estate property values in 1928, had borrowed against the anticipated higher tax revenue which did not materialize, making for a mess of a financial deficit going into 1930. This news deflected from the previous big issue of the 4,000 county employees being unpaid since Sept 15.

October 25, 1929 was the final blow to the stock market. No Saks Fifth Avenue ads ran that day either. One might imagine the staff spent much of the day concerned for the future, and wondering if the holiday shopping season, soon to start, would be anything like they had hoped for when they were planning it in earlier months.

Much newspaper mention has been made of the stock market crash the end of Oct, a trigger for the Great Depression ahead. It has been a volatile market since at least the spring, and bank failures and suicides had been happening even before the crash. Those just seemed like more isolated incidents till economic gloom became better recognized. 

What other events occurred for which a new dress and hat would be desired by a lady in Chicago? The opera? Yes. Theater? Yes. The new production of Eugene O’ Niel’s third Pulitzer Prize winning “Strange Interlude” opened to 1200 attendees. The Stevens Hotel, across the street, and the theater arranged a special dinner interlude. The performance started at 5:30, and the 1.25 hr intermission was a time for theater goers to dine at the hotel, then return for the final acts of this 5 hour, nine act play. It sounds like an excellent idea, at only $1.50 for the meal, as Thanksgiving dinner was $2, vs $2.50 at the Palmer House.

saks umbrellas

A practical purchase for gifts or oneself, if only to save one’s hat from rain and snow, would have been the special on Nov 23 for umbrellas at a mere $7.50. Just after Thanksgiving Saks featured shoes for $9.85 for values to $27.50, and the same ad is repeated several days.

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One wondered if Saks actually sold hats, a mystery solved when a semi annual clearance sale is announced Dec 2, and millinery is mentioned. Whew! One could relax, tho no hat photos make one wonder if they were all a cloche style, or perhaps a bit more adventurous. 

Speaking of the ads themselves, most Saks ads were rather bland. The two cosmetic ads were simply lists of items with prices, and the shoe sale showed no shoes. Even the biggest ads in the fall for Vionnet and Molyneaux were copies of typed letters from the fashion houses. The aura of mystery was certainly the approach Saks took. Lots of competitors featured lovely drawings, such as Blum’s Vogue Dec ____1929. 

But finally Saks has pulled out all the stops for a full page ad on Dec 8, a Sunday paper, to draw those Christmas shoppers inside their doors. The image contained an Art Deco feel of a woman holding a ship. They were not selling ships, but selling the allure of imported goods, especially French items. 

Saks had begun advertising in a short lived magazine, a clone of the New Yorker, called The Chicagoan. This magazine ran from 1926 until 1935. Saks had ads from the beginning of 1929, and they were targeting the wealthy shopper, their favorite kind of shopper. For Dec they had a full page for gifts. a regular fashion column, authored by Marcia Vaugh in 1929 gave special note to items from Saks regularly. in the Dec 7, 1929 issue she waxes practically poetic over the virtues of the lingerie selection at this 10 month old store. Although there was a valiant attempt to rebirth this magazine, it seems to remain in limbo. Bound copies of part of the original issues are in the University of Chicago library, and formed the basis of an excellent book on the publication. Neil Harris release of this rich book in 2008 can never be outdone. https://www.amazon.com/The-Chicagoan-Lost-Magazine-Jazz/dp/0226317617

This book has caused this writer much inspiration to read each issue of the originals online for more fashion blog topics for release mid 2018.https://www.timeout.com/chicago/things-to-do/the-chicagoan-online-archive-see-every-cover-of-chicagos-new-yorker

 

saks baGS

They followed up on Dec. 12 to entice gift givers to select a purse, with prices which ranged to $250. ( Or $3,530 in 2017)

1929 BAGS

For the bargain hunter, The Fair, a reputable mid-price department store, had an ad of handbags ranging to $15.That week Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co showed “original couturier bags from Lelong, Patou, Worth, Lanvin, and Paquin at $15 to $35.” All the ads were of little use from Dec 18th, and 19th, as a blizzard had hit Chicago, “the worst of a decade.” It caused 12 deaths, and plummeted the temps to zero. For shoppers who had left that gift buying task for the last weekend before Christmas, the city was a mess. 900 shovelers and 75 trucks were working to clear the downtown; the rest of the city had to wait for it to melt.

OG BAGS

By Dec 21 O’Conner and Goldberg, known as OG, the store for shoes, had to do something with their 1,500 handbags, which were marked down to $5, from $27.50.

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By Dec 23 even Saks had to move their $7.50-$10 purses, marked down to $4.95. Perhaps we have a case of handbag wars, where sellers were bound and determined those lovely little evening bags with so much holiday appeal get out their doors, one way or another. http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1929/12/23/page/4/article/display-ad-3-no-title

How many people trudged thru the snow for these bargains is unknown. But teachers were not going shopping for many gifts. The city was so broke for weeks they could not be paid, no matter what they went thru to get to work during the blizzard. Loop departments stores placed ads specifically telling teachers they could open credit accounts immediately. In a last minute deal borrowed funds were found to give teachers their checks on Dec. 24th. But sadly for them things would be worse in 1930, with far worse gaps unpaid. For now, Chicagoans went about their business of celebrating a white Christmas, a bit diminished, but hopeful of a new year of hats and handbags. Maybe they even went inside Saks, just to see what it was all about, even if buying their hats seemed outrageous.