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: Pearlie Powell Shop April 3, 2017

On June 5, 1917 Clarence Powell submitted and was rejected from the draft for World War 1; rejected because of his feet. Listed as single and a department manager for Mandel Bros department store, he otherwise would have likely gone off and perhaps never returned.

In 1920 Clarence A. Powell, 30 years old, was an import buyer for the highly regarded Mandel Bros store in Chicago. He applied for a passport to go abroad to buy for the store, but he had no birth certificate from his Milwaukee, WI birth in 1890 and had to provide substantial written testimony to this. His friend of over a decade, Mr. Miller, the manager of imports for the store, provided his testimony. Mr. Miller had known Clarence’s father, William, as well, for about 25 years, which was when Charles would have still been in short pants. The 1920 census has Clarence single and living at home with his parents. His father was an advertising manager of a department store, and Clarence was a buyer. They lived at 4949 S. Lake Park Ave.

The passport application was approved, and Clarence returned from his first trip abroad Sept 6, 1920.

In 1921, after Clarence’s father had passed away, Clarence applied to the Sons of the American Revolution. He documented his heritage back to his great, great, great, great, great grandfather, Peter Powell who had served as a private in the American Revolution in PA. Clarence sailed again in August for another buying trip in 1921.

Something fun must have been happening after the difficult year of 1921. Somewhere along the way he met a gal in Chicago, Pearlie. No records of their marriage, nor her youth were located. She was a bit of a pleasant mystery. One who had an eye for fashion.  Clarence left Mandel’s to open a high end shop in her name. He had the buying expertise, she had… Good taste?

Good taste also meant a need to search the continent for the best their money could buy. Pearlie took off for France.

Pearlie Powell sailed home alone in Feb 1925 from Cherbourg, France, on the Berengaria, Her residence is listed as the Lake Shore Hotel. The birth date is given as Feb 10, 1891. Tho she may have been alone, with her husband not traveling, the rest of the passengers would have been a treat. Beckie Blum 32, from 5120 High Park Blvd, and Ida Winer, 39, from 5341 High Park Blvd, would have been worth getting to know. Blum’s fashion shop had opened in 1924, and advertised their high end fashions in the Tribune. In time it became known as Blum’s Vogue.

digitalcollection.chicagohistory.org hisotry museum galanos dress from Blum

Even in 1960 ‘Becky’ Blum reminisced about her early support of a then well acknowledged designer, James Galanos. http://digitalcollection.chicagohistory.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p16029coll3/id/2442/rec/1

Also returning was Robert McCormick, 44 of 80 E Elm in Chicago, tho he may not have had fashion on his mind, but instead focused upon his newspaper. He was editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. Robert presented his own mystery, as he was alone, without his wife Amy, 57. He married in 1915, after much in the way of public scandal.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_R._McCormick

From New York was Nettie Rosentstein, 33,residing at 44 56th St, New York, and last but NOT LEAST, Hattie Carneige, 38, of 780 38th St, NY, a fashion force with whom to be reckoned.

On August 19, 1925 Pearlie and Clarence sailed back from France together on the Olympic, but no obvious fashion names appeared on the passenger lists. They had been on the manifest to depart on Aug 15 on the Berengaria, but did not embark.

In 1926 Pearlie Powell starts advertising in a local high end magazine, The Chicagoan, which only ran thru April 1935. It seems they carried Chanel, as well as Vionnet. Creme de la Creme of French fashion.

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

In 1927 Pearlie and Clarence return Feb 22 from France, and are listed as living at 320 N. Michigan Ave. Presently this address is the Comfort Suites Hotel, having originally been built in 1888. The building is on the west side of the street, just a few doors south of Wacker Drive and the Chicago River. This made the opening of the bridge in 1920 and the development of the shopping area known now as the Magnificent Mile a very attractive place for an elegant fashion shop. Not moving up to the north Michigan Avenue hot spot may have proved a mistake. Again on board this ship were a couple of fashion names, successful in their careers as well; Nettie Rosenstein and Hattie Carnegie. “In 1925, Carnegie was successful enough to buy a building just off Park Avenue at 42 East 49th Street.[5] By 1929, the business has sales of $3.5 million a year.[3] When spending decreased during the Great Depression, Carnegie created a less expensive line called Spectator Sports.” [2]”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hattie_Carnegie

In Aug 1928 Clarence and Pearlie returned to Chicago, now with an address of 1209 Astor St. Chicago.

On the passenger list of Feb 1929 one finds Clarence and Pearlie, born in Chicago in 1891, listed as residing at 320 N. Michigan Ave in Chicago. They had arrived on the Aquitania from Cherbourg, France. There was only one other woman, Bertha Nikodem, from Chicago who boarded there, who resided at the Congress Hotel. One wonders if they met and enticed a new customer.

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In the 1929 Chicago Tribune online archives of the newspaper one finds ads for Pearlie Powell fashion shop, and twice a year they indicate Mr. and Mrs. Powell have returned from buying trips abroad for the shop. Customers were tantalized by seeing the latest Paris creations, and having a chance to purchase from a long time fashion forward couple.

The 1930 census has Clarence Powell, 40 and Pearlie Powell, 39, living at 1209 N. Astor, with their 42 year old German maid. They are listed as retailers of women’s wear. This address was elite, having been built in 1926. A current property listing is for this unit, under contract, for over $3million. https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1209-N-Astor-St-Chicago-IL-60610/2137675499_zpid/
The Powells were paying $450/month in rent, while others in the building went from $275 to only one which went for more than theirs. This was likely the penthouse for Mr. Robert White, a president of a real estate company, and his family, for $585/month. That name may not be familiar, but many Chicagoans would recognize another neighbor who lived with his daughter and her family, Maurice L. Rothschild. It is likely this is one and the same as the store by that name. Rothschilds was a men’s and women’s-wear store in Chicago. It had opened in 1906. In 1931, while the depression progressed, Rothschild’s was adding three floors to their building on State Street. In a Tribune article, placing his worth at $15million, he claimed 70% of his advertising was in the Tribune the year before. No wonder they wrote about him!

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It is clear from this ad in the Chicago Tribune March 16, 1930 that the class of client the Powells desired were the most elite. The plan for this expansion was probably well under way before the stock market crash of Oct, 1929. This was a risky enterprise.

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It seems the worst had come. When the Depression caused even the wealthy to diminish expensive fashion spending, retailers on narrow margins could not keep up. To give 2/3 off on elegant fashions must have broken their hearts, as well as their business.

The only other ads seen in 1931 were for $5 hats. Hopefully hats could ease the pain.

There are few further records of this couple in anything on Ancestry.com. They are not in the 1940 census in Chicago. It is like they disappeared off the face of the earth. A death record is found for Clarence in 1935. A death record for Pearle is found for 1981. One hopes they still had each other during the early 1930s, even if all the glory days were over.