And you thought Fashion’s Night Out was impressive. On Nov. 10, 1919, retailers across the country — “From Boston Light to Golden Gate,” according to WWD’s headline — launched six days of special sales, window displays and promotional advertisements centering on National Blouse Week. In New York, retailers like James McCreery & Co., Gimbel Bros., Bloomingdale Bros. and Abraham & Straus advertised National Blouse Week to draw in customers. Other retailers — among them, Lord & Taylor and Best & Co. — made no actual mention of the event, but their displays featured blouses heavily. The window at Lord & Taylor was built around a blouse, rescued from Brussels during WWI, made from a rare rose point lace valued at $1,000 a yard. The garment’s retail price? $3,500 (almost $45,000 today).
But the point of the promotional week wasn’t exhibition. It was sales. The dominant bargains were nearly 50 percent off in most cases. A standard crepe georgette blouse, complete with ornamentation-like beading and lace went for $8.95 at most stores. In Chicago, prices dipped as low as $6.95, and in Boston, some stores sold items for $5.00. Crowds responded well to the discounts. At Gimbel’s in Manhattan, crowds were so large that “self-service was forced on the women” according to WWD’s reporter. As the week progressed, retailers saw significant increases in sales, reporting a rise of 76 percent over the same days’ sales the previous year.