Department store managers were only starting to realize the value of employing women in retail sales -especially in dealing with a store's female clientele. Women were attributed with having more tact and accuracy in serving customers needs, and the fitting of new garments was greatly simplified.
As a result, millinery shops, which dealt almost entirely in ladies hats, gloves and other fine and fancy accessories, were to the ladies what the barbershop was to the men.
In a time that frowned upon women holding jobs and working outside of the home, millinery shops were one of the few economic enterprises that could be owned, operated and frequented by women with no fear of damage to their social respectability.
Straw hats could be trimmed only with flowers and ribbons for summer use. At other times straw hats where covered with silk, taffeta or similar material, showing nothing of the foundation material at all.
Over the centuries, hats came to the forefront of the millinery trade and by the 19th century most Millinery shops were in essence ladies hat shops with gloves and other fine accessories pushed to the smaller side counters as a relative afterthought. Throughout the history of fashion, hats served as the status symbol that delineated the line between the social classes through their use of material, decoration, and utility... (or the lack of it).