Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Jordan Marsh & Co.

Date Created



Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Main garments for the upper body; Bodices


1890-1892. Blue silk faille bodice with velvet panel, closing in front, with a velvet center panel and collar, full-length curved-seam sleeves with velvet cuffs, and a pleated faille peplum.

The bodice is made with eight pieces: two center-front panels with two boned darts each, and a six-piece back constructed of two back panels with a center-back seam, flanked by two narrow curved panels on each side. In addition to the darts, all seams are boned, for a total of eleven stays. The bodice is widely flared over the bust and is contoured to the narrow waist by the shape of the panels and the darts before it flares again past the waist. It comes to a divided point at the front and to a squared point at the back, arching over the hips at the sides. Deeply pleated lengths of faille are sewn to the arched hem beginning at the divided points in front and drape across the hips to the back, where they are capped with another panel of faille sculpted into a large stacked box pleat. This is sewn to the bodice just below the small of the back and is allowed to fall into soft, elaborate folds in an effect combining a decorative bow with coattails.

The center-front of the bodice is 48.3 cm / 19 in. long at its opening, and has twenty-one faille-covered buttons. Curved blue silk velvet panels flank the full length of the opening, and their greatest combined width is 21.6 cm / 8.5 in. over the bust while their narrowest is 10.2 cm / 4 in. at the hem. The velvet continues into a 3.2 cm / 1.25 in. high standing band collar, and is also added to the hems of the sleeves as cuffs. The sleeves are full-length and closely fitted to the arm, and are sewn to the scyes without gathers. They have a curved two-seam construction and have small gathers in the back seam at the elbow for ease of motion.

The bodice is flat-lined with white polished cotton twill. It would originally have had a matching skirt, however this was not included with it when the gift was made to the museum.

Professionally made, with an embroidered partial label remaining that reads “Jordan Marsh Boston” Jordan Marsh was a New England-based department store with its headquarters in Boston, and by the 1890s also had a mailing list of over 100,000 names. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.


Bust: 96.5 cm / 38 in.
Waist: 71.1 cm / 28 in.
Shoulder: 11.7 cm / 4.625 in.
Sleeve: 55.9 cm / 22 in.
Hem: 116.8 cm / 46 in.


Gift of May Durham Kirtland, worn by the donor between the ages of 20 and 22, before her marriage to John Copeland Kirtland in 1895. It was likely purchased through Jordan Marsh’s mail order catalog.

Museum Number



University of New Hampshire Library


Silk faille, silk velvet


Astrida Schaeffer, photographer/curator

Date Digitized


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International 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.


Bodices, 1890-1892, Boston, Massachusetts, United States, Silk faille, Velvet, Blue (color), Full-length sleeves, Curved seam sleeves, Fitted sleeves, Cuffs, Peplum, Boned darts, Stays, Box pleats, Stacked box pleats, Coattails, Bows (costume accessories), Buttons, Faille-covered buttons, Standing band collar, Polished cotton twill lining, White (color), Gathering (textile process), Professionally made, Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn, Durham Kirtland (donor)


item origin