Sometimes the images and factoids I encounter while doing simple research on a vintage label or garment are so exquisite/fascinating/eyeopening they threaten to burst my head, making a blog post not just timely but a necessary release valve for fashion history-induced speaking in tongues. The single, mind-blowing culprit in this instance is a newspaper ad, dated Friday, September 20, 1929. In a classic example of saving the best for last, I’m going to do just that and instead tell the tale of what sent me hunting in its direction.
Quite simply, then: For some reason, the only items I’ve had till now from Rochester, NY’s grande dame of a department store, Sibley Lindsay Curr Co., have been hats, 6 of them, all outstandingly lovely and a healthy cut above in quality. Then, this year I happened upon a mid-1940s Sibley’s “Store for Men” necktie and began wondering about the history of menswear retailing at Sibley’s—and more to the point, exactly when it opened its “Store for Men”.
Here’s a photo of the hats (an 1880s bonnet, a late teens straw bicorne, and a felt tilt hat from the late 30s or early 40s):
And here’s the tie, a 4.5” wide rayon satin number with what appears to be a popcorn print on it (the jazzy jacquard pattern of the ground is popcorn-like too!):
In past research on the hats, I learned that Sibley’s was Rochester’s oldest and largest department store, founded in 1868 and locally owned until the late 1950s, and known for its elegance and innovative marketing. The original building was devastated by fire in 1904 (along with a sizeable chunk of downtown Rochester); here, in an image from the Monroe County Public Library’s public database, is the original, 12 story building collapsing in that horrible inferno: