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The Girl With a Job: 1953

The Girl With a Job: 1953

Columbus, Georgia, 1953. "Kayser-Lilienthal window display." Tied to the fall issue of Glamour and its focus on "The Girl With a Job," who if she was really kicking it as a career woman might be working as a switchboard operator or even a secretary. 4x5 inch acetate negative from the Shorpy News Photo Archive. View full size.


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The House of Original Styles

The company name comes from the last names of its founding business partners: Isidore Kayser and Leslie Lilienthal.

Isidore Kayser (1876 - 1951) was born in Selma, Alabama. In 1900 he was working as a clerk in a dry goods store, but by 1904 he had opened his own store where his brothers Edwin and Samuel also worked. This store eventually became Isidore Kayser & Co., a department store, and existed until 1923.

Leslie H. Lilienthal (1895-1973) was also born in Selma, Alabama. His father Henry Lilienthal was the manager of the Lilienthal Mercantile Company which were outfitters for men, young men, and boys. Leslie dropped out of school in 1913, and he went to work for the Kayser Store. By 1920 he was working as the assistant manager of the Rothchild Mercantile Company which sold ladies ready to wear and millinery.

Isidore Kayser's younger brother Samuel J. Kayser (1887-1982) had moved to Mobile, Alabama by 1922 to open a ladies ready-to-wear store called Kayser's, originally at 207 Dauphin (later 224 Dauphin). This later became The Style Shop and part of Kayser-Lilienthal.

Kayser-Lilienthal announced their opening in Columbus, Georgia in the August 26th 1923 issue of the "Columbus Enquirer Sun." Leslie Lilienthal was president, Edwin Kayser was vice-president, and Isidore Kayser served as the secretary-treasurer. Isidore Kayser had asked Liliental to join him in the new business in Columbus. The business address was 1109 Broad Street, and they sold women's clothing. Later, in addition to the Mobile, Alabama location, there was a branch of the store in the Village of Wynnton (Midtown, Columbus, GA). After the death of Isidore Kayser, Samuel Kayser became the vice-president of Kayser-Liliental despite still living and working in Mobile.

The store in Columbus survived until just after the death of Lilienthal and officially closed in 1974. The store billed itself as "The Shop of Original Styles," and, in addition to ready-to-wear clothing, sold furs and women's shoes with the Kayser-Lilienthal logo stamped or labeled on the items (examples below).


Are you sure those are flies? Maybe, but they look more like moths attracted to all the light at the top of the display case to me.

These Guys

Are flies.

If you're curious

The window display is better than the magazine cover

A Hat for Every Occasion!

No self respecting woman (working or not) went out without a hat to complete her outfit. I remember a hat my mother had in the 1950s that was like an inverted shallow bowl covered in shiny black feathers. So stylish.

The New Look

It was pretty spunky of Kayser's to feature working women in their windows at a time when women were pressured to be housewives. Just a few years before, these young women's mothers and older sisters were working at a wide range of jobs for the war effort.

Mannequin on the left

Such an expressive pose. What really intrigues me (and always has) is the foot sloping away at the ankle. Was this simply to relieve pressure in high-heel shoes or to strike a fetching pose?

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