Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


image preview



Date Created



Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Suits


Wool, velvet, cord, silk


1909. Woman’s two-piece wedding suit of blue wool comprised of a mid-calf length columnar coat, closing in front, with full-length sleeves and velvet collar, and matching floor-length skirt, all trimmed with matching cord.

The coat is made of seven pieces, all going from shoulder to hem: two narrow center-front panels cut in one piece with a 8.9 cm / 3.5 in. wide belt placed just below the hips, two side-front panels, two side-back panels, and one narrow center-back panel. The side-front and side-back panels are sewn together on the right and on the left with each pair then treated as one panel; they are machine-sewn with a braided cord in a continuous line pattern with floral elements, meanders, and coils, which pass back and forth over the side seam. The center-front and back panels are left undecorated and are sewn into place between the completed sides, with an extra length of belt added in at each side of the center-back to wrap to the front belt over each hip. The belt is essentially an appliqué sewn over the top of the cord-work. The garment is then assembled into a coat by its shoulder seams, where the edges of the center panels are carefully lined up with each other and the necessary shoulder width is completed by the side panels, cutting off the cord design. The shaping of the coat is achieved mostly by the curve of the side seams over the hips, and it has a fairly slim profile with no added fullness in its skirts. The center-front opening is straight and has five 3.8 cm / 1.5 in. fabric-covered buttons decorated with cord-work from the base of the shawl collar to the hips. The buttonholes are bound. One more button is added at each side of the belt to make it appear that the back is buttoned in place over the front. The collar is a deep blue velvet for a texture contrast and is finished with more cord-work. The sleeves are full at the top and are gathered tightly into the armscye, creating a slightly puffed sleeve head, and narrow to the wrist. They have two slightly curved seams and have cord-work at the cuff and bicep, which passes over the front sleeve seam and has its ends captured by the back seam. The coat is fully lined with blue silk.

The skirt is floor-length and has a complex construction. There is one waist-to-floor panel at center front which has a squared-off U-shaped area of cord-work toward the hem, and another panel at center back. Flanking these are two horizontal panels, 34.3 cm / 13.5 in. deep, which are fitted to the hips and sewn to the waistband, and which are completed with more fabric knife pleated to them. Six hooks and eyes close the placket at the back of the skirt. The skirt is fully lined with blue silk.

Custom made by Chandler and Co. of Boston. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.


Bust: 102.6 cm / 40.5 in.
Waist: 66 cm / 26 in.
Shoulder: 14 cm / 5.5 in.
Sleeve: 63.5 cm / 25 in.
Hem (coat): 151.1 cm / 159.5 in.
Hem (skirt): 518.2 cm / 204 in.
Length (skirt front): 106 cm / 41.75 in.
Length (skirt back): 109.9 cm / 43.25 in.


Gift of the Nims family. Worn by Kate Lanmon Nims at her 1909 marriage to prominent lawyer and state legislator, John E. Benton. Kate was 40 at the time and this fashionable suit was quite appropriate for a bride of her age. Benton was elected mayor of Keene, NH the following year, and then to Congress.

Museum Number



University of New Hampshire Library


Astrida Schaeffer, photographer/curator

Date Digitized


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License


The Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection digital catalog was produced by the UNH Library Digital Collection Initiative, supported in part by a grant from the Mooseplate program and New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Additional funding provided by the E. Ruth Buxton Stephenson Memorial Fund.
Photography copyright, Astrida Schaeffer.


Women's suits, Wedding suits, 1909, Keene, New Hampshire, United States, Columnar coat, Mid-calf length coat, Front-closing, Full-length sleeves, Floor-length skirt, Wool, Blue (color), Velvet collar, Shawl collar, Belt, Appliqué, Cord-work, Floral patterns, Meanders, Coils, Fabric-covered buttons, Knife pleats, Hooks and eyes, Custom made, Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn, Silk lining, Nims (donor), Nims family


item origin