Vintage Home Lingerie Parties?!

Amazingly, there really isn’t anything new, is there? Hard to believe there is when you find old advertisements for home lingerie parties.


The clipping was sent to me by Dee, who said she found it in a vintage ad forum, but no one knew where it had originated or anything — but she knew I’d like it. (And she was right!)

I did a search for Beeline Fashions, and discovered this from a Chicago Tribune obit (a copy can be found here:

Mrs. Birginal, of Inverness, Illinois, former vice chairman of the board of Beeline Inc., died Monday, February 14, 2005,of cancer in her son’s home in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois, at the age of 93.

With her unique fashion sense, Beatrice F. Birginal, co-owner and buyer for Beeline Fashions, helped American women achieve their own measure of independence by selling the coordinated line at clothing parties.

“In the late 1950s and 1960s, women didn’t have opportunities to work outside the home,” said her son, Gary. “Beeline Fashions provided them with a chance to work part time one or two nights a week, and the
business exploded.”

At the company’s peak in 1979, Beeline had 20,000 independent contractors, called stylists, selling the product line nationwide and annual sales of $60 million.

The moderately priced sportswear was coordinated by Mrs. Birginal.

“You could buy three or four pieces and get five or six outfits. It was about getting more for your dollar through color coordination,” her son said.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Mrs. Birginal moved to Chicago, Illinois, as a young girl and graduated from Roosevelt High School.

She married H. Edison Birginal in 1942 shortly before he entered the Army. During World War II, she followed him to an Army post in Florida and worked as a civilian employee at Camp Blanding near Jacksonville.

After his discharge in 1945, they returned to Chicago.

Before the war, her husband was a salesman and after their return, they cofounded a business. With a $2,000 GI loan they purchased a supply of women’s hosiery.

Mrs. Birginal, who went by the nickname Bee, selected the apparel while her husband sold it door to door. As he pitched the items, he referred to them as “Bee’s line of clothing.”

“So the name stuck, and it became Beeline fashion from then on,” said her son.

Eventually, the line expanded.

“And that’s when [my father] conceived of implementing the idea of a party plan method for selling wearing apparel. And he called the in-home parties style shows,” her son said.

By 1948, the company recruited independent contractors and supplied them with the merchandise.

“My mother did all the selecting and buying of merchandise, including putting together a small catalog with hand drawings. She typed all the copy and mimeographed it. It was a real family business at the time,” said her son.

In the 1960s the company experienced its fastest growth.

“It took them 15 years to get to $1 million, and then they went from $1 million to $50 million in six years,” her son said.

Mrs. Birginal was vice president of merchandise. In 1969, her husband died, and she continued as vice chairman of the board until her retirement in 1984 when the company was sold to a management group.

The company closed in the late 1980s.

The H. Edison Birginal Foundation was created in 1966 to provide scholarships to the employees’ families and also to fund other charitable organizations.

Mrs. Birginal served as president of the foundation until her death.

“She was very proud of what they accomplished,” said her son, Kirk.

The family moved to Arlington Heights in 1951 and in 1966 settled in Palatine.

Other survivors include her stepdaughter, Shirlee Reff; 14 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

I honestly had no idea that these things went on. Did any of you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *