Easter dresses…Easter bonnets…For those who celebrate Easter, you know that your attire is important. Spring is in the air, a time of rebirth, out with the old, in with the new. Last year, when all of us were stuck at home during the pandemic, there was little motivation to get dressed up and show off our best Easter outfits. However, in more social past Easter Sundays, it was the perfect time to spruce up their wardrobe and update their style—clothing shops seized the holiday as an opportunity to garner business. Check out some of these historic Easter advertisements from local Wheeling businesses and chain stores.
Since the internet did not exist when any of these advertisements came out in the early-to-mid 20th century, the newspaper was the best place to solicit business. The hundreds of daily readers of the Wheeling Intelligencer would have recognized popular national businesses like Sears, Roebuck & Co., which would also send out large catalogs. The advertisements also covered local favorites like Stifel’s and Alexander and Co. The paper would cover the newest colors, the most attractive styles, and the most popular materials.
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Throughout the years, one of the best places to show off your Easter finery was at the annual Easter Parade in Wheeling. Several of the advertisements highlight shoes for Wheeling residents to join the parade or comfortably stand along the streets. Others try to sell hats to “hold your head up high” or dress suits that will make you the most fashionable. Some products could be bought “as is,” while others, like tailored suits, required an appointment. A few of the advertisements encourage shoppers to get their orders in early before the Easter rush. Other ads promoted “After Easter” sales to get rid of surplus unsold merchandise. Click through to see some of the highest fashions of the time…it is hard to imagine buying a fully-tailored suit for only $15 today!
Wheeling Intelligencer, March 23, 1907.
Alexander & Co - Wheeling Intelligencer, April 15, 1938.
Kahn's - Wheeling Intelligencer, April 5, 1926.
M.H. & M. Satisfactory Shoes - Wheeling Intelligencer, April 15, 1922.
Sears Roebuck and Co. - Wheeling Intelligencer, March 23, 1951.
Sears, Roebuck and Co. - Wheeling Intelligencer, March 25, 1932.
Stifel's - Wheeling Intelligencer, March 19, 1953.
The United Woolen Mills Co. - Wheeling Intelligencer, March 23, 1911.
• Emma Wiley, originally from Falls Church, Virginia, was a former AmeriCorps member with Wheeling Heritage. Emma has a B.A. in history from Vassar College and is passionate about connecting communities, history, and social justice.