Off the Rack – Adelaar Blouse Company

Adelaar10I have been building research notes for years about companies that produced off-the-rack clothes but aren’t well known or have little written about them, so I am starting a new category today to transcribe some of the information I have gathered. Off-the-rack’s first posting will be the Adelaar Blouse Company, a firm that produced primarily women’s tailored blouses but also created separates and occasionally dresses and lightweight suits.

Adelaar Blouse, 1951

Adelaar Blouse, 1951

Brothers Emil, Maurice, and Bernard Adelaar founded their blouse-making company (formally known as Adelaar Brothers Inc.)  in 1934 in Chicago but transplanted to New York in 1945 where it was easier to find jobbers (subcontractor manufacturers.) The blouses were designed by Maurice but tailored by different jobbers using the patterns, materials and notions supplied by Adelaar.  The company was at its height of production from the late 1940s to late 1960s when women’s tailored blouses were popular. Foreign competition, rising U.S. labour costs, and changing tastes in fashion in the 1970s lead to the company’s slow demise. The company closed in 1986.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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8 Responses to Off the Rack – Adelaar Blouse Company

  1. Liza D. says:

    Love this new feature, Jonathan. And that blouse, too. The dropped shoulder gives it a mid-Victorian look. So pretty.

  2. Judy W says:

    A lovely blogger posted about her purchases at a recent estate sale in Palm Springs, CA. It appears there were a number of clothing items from this brand which caused my interest in looking up this brand. Not sure if she had a direct connection to the company – she was mentioned as a clothing designer. The brand would have been phasing out during my career which originally began in Chicago.

  3. yvette bernklau says:

    Hello! I discovered an estate sale in Palm Springs last week with closets full of Adelaar clothing. . .dresses, shirts, sweaters, skirts, etc. I was told the home belonged to the wife of the designer. I even scored samples that were never worn with tags still on them. I wish I had asked more questions.

  4. Yvonne Mollica says:

    In 1974 I was an assistant buyer for Hart, Schaffner, and Marx buying office in NYC.
    Hart Marx, as it later became known, purchased mom and pop stores across the U.S., each retaining their original names. Wallach’s in NY, James K. Wilson, Dallas, stores in Utica, NY, down to Jacksonville, Fla.

    And one important line we purchased from was Adelaar Bros. I would go up to the showroom, have wonderful conversations with Mori Adelaar, and go in the back and pull blouses to be shipped to our stores. The showroom had original Antiques grandfather clocks, paintings, and charm.
    Mr. Adelaar was a gracious, charming, funny, and affectionate man. I still love this experienced.
    Our no.1 blouse as a classic ascot tie neck. Pretty, feminine, and elegant.

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