Arranging a “Ritzy” Shoe and Hosiery Department: 1922

stockings and shoes

“A Better Tie-Up Between Shoes and Hosiery

The Woman Customer Friend Has a Few Ideas Which
Were Accepted by the Merchant

(From Queen Quality Between UsJune, 1922, Issue)

When the Wanderer put his head in at the office door of my shoe store last Saturday morning, his always pleasant face wore a broad smile.

“Come out of your shell, old turtle,” he greeted me cheerfully. “Mrs. Wanderer’s up front buying out your hosiery department. Hold on, though!” he added as I jumped up, “‘phone your wife to come down to lunch with us—so you and I can talk shop in peace.”

Now the Wanderer’s wife was not “buying out” my hosiery department. Yet she and the clerk were deep in conversation.

“I was just following in the footsteps of my illustrious husband and giving this young lady a lot of perfectly good advice about running a business she knows more about than I do,” she said as we shook hands.

Friend Wife Talks

“Charley, for goodness’ sake when you let Nick talk you into adding this hosiery department, why didn’t you make him tell you how to sell the stuff? It’s miles out of your line.”‘

“Why, it’s doing about as well as I expected,” I replied. “It’s rather a novelty yet—women haven’t got used to buying hosiery in a shoe store, I guess.”

“Suppose you tell us how it ought to be managed,” said the Wanderer, meekly.

“Tell you?” scoffed his lady. “You’d never see it. But go on back to your lair and gossip for half an hour and I’ll show you.”

Obediently we retraced our steps—nor did we reappear until my wife came to call us.

How She Trimmed the Case

Mrs. Wanderer—wearing an expression of supreme content—waited for us by the hosiery display case. This is what she’d put in it—an exact copy of the list I made that afternoon to refer to when arranging future displays.

Floor of Case (reading from left to right): a dark brown walking oxford with a pair of plain brown hose, matching exactly. Center, smoke, calf sport oxford trimmed in brown calf, accompanied by three pairs of hose, one a heavy smoke-colored silk, the second brown silk and wool clocked in orange, the third brown and gold heather mixed wool. Right end, tan walking oxford with matching hose.

First Shelf: left end, white cloth oxford, two pairs of hose, one heavy white silk clocked in red, the second a lighter weight plain white. Center, white cloth oxford with black calf trim with a pair of white silk hose clocked in black, and one pair of black clocked in white. Right end, white cloth strap pump with one pair white lace clocked silk hose, and one pair white drop-stitch stripe.

Top Shelf: left, a low heeled, single strap pump, patent vamp and beige suede quarter with a pair of beige hose exactly matching the suede, and a second pair of beige with black clocks. Center, patent two strap with Louis heel, accompanied by three pairs of hose: one black, one white (self clocked), one blond. Right, gray suede elastic side three strap, with one pair plain gray hose, matching exactly, and another of paler gray clocked with the shade of the shoe itself.

Stunts Don’t Fool ‘Em

Now I’d always made it a point to show a sample of every style and color I had in stock, and I don’t mind confessing that showcase looked mighty empty.

Guess the Wanderer thought so, too, but that didn’t stump him.

“Going on the same principle as those milliners who put just one hat in the window—only not quite so much so?” he queried.

“No, you goose, that’s nothing but a selling fad—a pose that doesn’t fool us for a minute,” was the answer. “This is sense. Show a woman how what she wants or is thinking of buying, is going to look with something she’s got,” she added triumphantly.

“Of course!” seconded my wife.

This Was Her Psychology

Then, just in time to save me from having to admit that I didn’t “get her,” she continued—

“Look at that white shoe with the black trim. Any woman would buy white stockings to go with it. The less obvious but smarter thing is white clocked in black. Show her that—and sell her the hose. If she’s just a bit daring she’ll like the black with the white clocks—and she’ll know without your reminding her that she can wear that same stocking with any all black shoe. Work it backwards. Suppose she has some black and white stockings, but no shoes like these—you’ve put into her head how stunning that combination would be with her white satin sport skirt and black silk sweater. Now do you see daylight?”

“You mean make my shoes sell appropriate stockings to go with them—and my stockings sell shoes?” I questioned.

Each Display Helps the Other

“Of course,” was the calm reply. “You’re selling ‘footwear’ now—not just shoes. Well, then, why not make your two departments help each other instead of letting your poor little hosiery department struggle along by itself?

“Why,” with a smile, “haven’t you seen shirts and the right scarfs to go with them displayed together in the men’s shops for years and years—and you never thought of anything so obvious as this? I’m ashamed of you both—but particularly of Nick, who ought to know better.”

To be perfectly truthful with you I’d not much notion that her arrangement would work such a whole lot better than mine—but fortunately I didn’t voice the thought—for right now I’m mailing orders for an extra supply of several styles of fairly high-priced stockings. And when I bought the original lots I rather had my doubts if I could sell a dozen pairs of each style!

There’s another queer twist to this little experience. A friend of mine—one of the members of our Board of Trade council— told me the other day his daughter said we had a “Ritzy” footwear shop! And she’s just home from a six months’ visit with an aunt in New York.

Oh, well, you never can tell, but it always pays to listen respectfully to a clever woman anyhow. 

Boot and Shoe Recorder: The Magazine of Fashion Footwear, Volume 81, Part 2, 1922

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: With hemlines beginning to rise in the 1910s, ornamented stockings were more popular than ever: one finds stockings embellished with beads and lace inserts, striped like sticks of candy, embroidered with whimsical figures or even the owner’s name about the ankle, or hand-painted by artists.

One of the more mystifying developments in American slang was the 1920s penchant for phrases such as “Friend Wife” and “Friend Husband,” always used in a somewhat humorous domestic context.  Surely the persons using the phrase could not all be Quakers? This 1914 squib does not illuminate the origins of the phrase, but does explain how one observer saw it.

“Friend Wife”

The slang straw shows how the thought wind blows. This term, “Friend Wife,” is now in good and regular standing with such observers as the cartoonist Briggs of the Chicago and new York “Tribunes,” colymnists like F.P.A. [Franklin P. Adams] and B.L.T. [Bert Leston Taylor], and story-writers such as George Randolph Chester. It is very doubtful is the phrase would have caught on a generation ago. To our ears it sums up an aspect of the change that has come about in the daily status of women; it recognizes in a half-humorous way the practical working equality of the sexes that is a great fact in modern life. In the light of this careless phrase we see clearly how empty is the chatter of the antisuffragists and the drivel of the so-called feminists. Most people are still very much like human beings.  Collier’s, Vol. 53, 1914


Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


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