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two story brick building the ground floor has a central front door flanked by two windows awhile the second floor just has two windows
C.F. Lusk and Sons Dry Goods store in Albany, Illinois, Carol M. Highsmith, photographer, 2019.

From the Dry Goods Economist 1909: Fashion & Beauty

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In the last post I introduced the Dry Goods Economist and hinted at other posts where I would tell you more about what is in the magazine. The first area I wanted to focus on is fashion and beauty.

An attractive display of beautiful original neckwear creations; leading styles and novelties in jabots, ties and collars - ready for immediate delivery
“An Attractive Display of Beautiful and Original Neckwear Creations.” Richard Roth, importer, New York. Dry Goods Economist. October 30, 1909 (p.66-67).

I am always looking for new resources to add to the beauty and fashion research guides, so the Dry Goods Economist was a great find. Since there was so much I wanted to tell you about this publication, I felt this content warranted its own post because fashion and beauty goods covered a lot of ground and also included materials to make clothes, gloves, undergarments, millinery, leather goods, handbags, shoes, stockings, etc.

Clothing and other beauty related products were an important part of a store’s wares. They obviously needed to know who made what, they also needed to know what was popular and what would sell–no one wanted to waste floor space or money on products that don’t sell.

These products were such a large part of the dry goods business that the publisher created special monthly sections focused on them. The first Saturday covered fabric, fancy goods, and notions (for those making their own clothes), the second Saturday covered shoes, and the third Saturday was devoted to women’s garments and toilet goods.

eleven pictures of women wearing long day and evening dresses some with gloves, some with hats
“Newest models in dressy day and evening gowns; selected for their bearing on spring styles.” Dry Goods Economist. October 16 1909 (p. 22-23).

Publishers didn’t confine all the beauty and fashion content to just those special sections. They published articles and advertisements throughout the year where they talked about all the new styles and highlighted fabrics, patterns, laces, etc. The November 6, 1909 issue had an article about women’s automobile fashion and another on fashionable motor hats. Some articles even went beyond the standard how and what to sell. The October 2, 1909 edition had an article on “How Textiles are Made” that was a pretty detailed piece on raw silk production and may have provided just a few interesting bits salesperson could use to upsell a fabric or garment.

drawing of a woman in a fancy hat with a feather and long dress wearing lace up boots is sitting on a boxkite style airplane made of wood with a rudder and foot pedals with seven hot air balloons each featuring a different shoe
“Shoe Styles in the Ascendency for 1910.” Dry Goods Economist. November 13, 1909 (p. 22-23).

One thing that caught my eye were the articles talking about the “It” colors of the season – sort of, what PANTONE does today. For example, the October 2, 1909 issue reported on colors and fabrics for Spring 1910 and the colors for Fall/Winter 1909. Black, Walnut, Raisin, Violet, Seal Brown, and Mustard were going to be popular for the “High Class Dressmaking Trade.” For “Retailers and Garment Manufacturers,” the palate was much wider and broken into 6 color series: blue- Navy, Russian, Gendarme; green- Chicory, Artichoke, Moss, Olive, Bottle; gray- Coal Dust, Blue Gray, Green Gray; brown- Seal, Castor; rose- Ashes of Roses, Faded Old Rose; and red- Burgundy and Purple Red.

There were also many advertisements for products that would allow women of the day to create the elaborate hairstyles including combs, hair nets, turban hair pads, turbanettes, and hair rolls. Advertisements for perfumeries, brushes, razors, hair goods, and fancy goods are just some of what the November 20 issue reported on.

a woman in profile selling the "new French turban style" Hairlight turbanette that is a roll that looks like a donut
Austin-Walker Co., New York. Dry Goods Economist. November 6, 1909 (p. 93).
a woman in profile with a fancy hair style advertising for with several hair pieces some a fee flowing others curled and styled
B. Butzel, New York. Dry Goods Economist. November 6, 1909 (p. 89).

If you didn’t see our first post you can catch up. Keep your eyes open for upcoming posts!

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Comments (5)

  1. Dear Fantastic Archivists,
    This is a remarkable publication and blog entry, thank you!

    I lead a group of child historians who are researching a woman who lived and photographed in far north rural Minnesota in 1910, and you have helped us understand her cultural context. We have wondered how, in this isolated village, her photography subjects came to be such elegantly dressed people–often perched on rocks, in tableau vivant of high society–when the weather, lifestyle and economy here did not in the least support conventions of high urban fashion.

  2. In the 1980s I worked as a copywriter in the in-house at ad agency at Jordan Marsh in Boston, Massachusetts. Jordan Marsh was one of the very first department stores in the United States. I was given the task of organizing and archiving the many thousands of print ads that were
    Squirreled away all over various floors of the flagship store located in Downtown Crossing in Boston.

    Jordan Marsh was the first retail store to make use of double-truck American more to America nature stone wow that is truetruck spreads in the Boston newspapers. The first advertiser to pay for and create four-color print ads.

  3. Fascinating and entertaining (now we know where later women got their neckwear from!). But check out Butzel’s Hair Goods. Regardless of the misspelling; I’d say the Billie Burk (sic) curls were named for THE Billie Burke, who was on Broadway in 1910. How cool! Who knew she went back that far!

  4. Wow! Fabulous!!

  5. The richer a woman was, the more she was expected to wear uncomfortable clothes and shoes, plus do crazy things with her hair.
    My feet for example or not at all shaped like those shoes, and there is only so much hair I would want to pile on my head on a hot and humid day. Not to mention that wearing those corsets must have been quite painful. Ouch!
    There must be ways to impress with one’s looks wearing practical clothes. If one must impress.

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