“Want to write about fashion from a historical perspective…?” Pattern  Editor-in-Chief, Polina Osherov queried this past fall.

If you weren’t aware, Indy has an emerging interest in fashion and Pattern is an organization dedicated to “Uniting and growing creators and consumers of fashion in Indianapolis.” They have also just published their third issue of Pattern Paper.

Upon learning the current issue’s overall theme was ‘transit,’ I knew just the angle to share: how the location of Indy’s beloved retail palaces was based on access and proximity to transportation (Beep beep, toot toot).

William H. Block moved his business from a bustling Washington Street (and National Road) to the corner of Illinois and Market Streets–a shrewd/ strategic move that would funnel those coming and going from the  Traction Terminal Building past his doors–the siren song of window displays filled with the day’s fashion, beckoning entry. You can read all about it in Issue No. 3 of Pattern Magazine.

How to convey the significance of this one time hub of fashion and shopping?

Illinois and Market

The two buildings in the background take up space that was formerly occupied by the Traction Terminal Shed

The first idea for a companion photo was to somehow splice an old picture of the Traction Terminal into the background with some fashionable ladies of varying eras in the foreground. That not being practical, we opted to shoot the other direction, with the former department store as the backdrop

Today, the ground level of the original part of Block’s Department store is used for a nationwide discount chain, and its later addition (1930’s) next door (and the entirety of the upstairs) have been remodeled into The Block Apartments. Photographer, Esther Boston was camped in on-again, off-again drizzle, not moving her camera in inch for the few hours of shooting required to put the final composite picture together.


Imagine yourself walking this bit of geography through almost one hundred years. That’s what we did. With model Brooke Hovermale transformed to represent the comings and goings here in the 1920’s, 40’s and 60’s, consider how many millions of pieces of clothing, accessories and other items have been conveyed through the doors of this once grand retail palace in its lifetime.

40's hair and makeup

Makeup artist Tara Dumser crafts 40’s makeup look

We traveled through years and years envisioning shopping Block’s and walking the streets of Indianapolis through the decades–with changes to hair, makeup and clothes for each time period.

Brooke Hovermale 1920's inside The Block

Inside The Block, 1920’s look- Going up!

1920’s: Underneath the velvet coat, a red dress worthy of a flapper–a good modern interpretation of 20’s style–somewhat loose and with room to Charleston. To be completely accurate, the coat should have been a bit longer, but sometimes you have to improvise and approximate. Added the fur collar to the emerald velvet coat to mimic the large fur collars so typical of 1920’s outer ware. This white cloche hat–a must for 20’s craniums–is embellished with rhinestones and a feather, and was paired with white leather gloves and fur muff to match the collar; shoes were bone color, leather t-strap with a French heel.

Brooke Hovermale 1920's

1920’s look, unbuttoned

 Dress only:

1920's looking dress

Behind the scenes, sans coat

(Hat: JoyRide6, Dress: TJ Maxx, Coat: Tammy Kirkman, Shoes, gloves, muff, fur collar: personal collection)

1940’s: A variety of women’s’ suits were popular throughout the decade–always with big shoulders, and longer skirts more prevalent towards the end of the decade–since, during war time, materials were scarce. Still, ladies liked to have well coordinated outfits and wouldn’t dream of not having gloves, hat and purse to match the rest of the ensemble. Hats started to be placed more asymmetrically or angled, and hair was coiffed in an artistic manner.

1940's outside William H. Block

1940’s suit

Green plaid suit with red pin stripe, green gloves, red leather purse (from H.P. Wasson), red jewelry, green velvet hat (personal collection)

1960’s: If you watch Mad Men–especially the earlier seasons, you will know that matchy-matchy is the way to go. This blue, green and gold patterned dress has a matching jacket, with great details on the arm (wish I’d taken a close-up) and a matching skinny belt. The white cone straw hat felt springy and the shoes, purse and jewelry all matched the shade of gold represented in the dress. She looked gorgeous. And ready for her close-up with Don Draper.

Mad Men in Indianapolis

Mad Men look in Indianapolis, 1960’s

(Dress, purse, shoes, hat: Tammy Kirkman, Gloves: JoyRide6, Jewelry: Personal collection)

Which look is your favorite? And which would look the best on you, ladies?

Thanks again to Pattern for inviting me to be part of this lovely issue! (You can get a copy of Pattern Issue No. 3 at Indy Reads Books and a few other select locations.)

Pattern Transit Issue 3

Sneak peek at the finished product!

Model: Brooke Hovermale, L Modelz Agency

Hair: Tabatha Bonham, Meridian Design Group

Makeup: Tara Dumser, La Dolce Salon

Stylist: Tiffany Benedict Berkson

Photographer: (of shoot featured in Pattern) Esther Boston

Big thanks to Emily at The Block Apartments for their assistance!