Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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M. Elizabeth Rand

Date Created



Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses


Silk velvet


1938. Royal blue silk velvet one-piece knee-length dress, closing at the side and the back, with short puffed sleeves and a smocked waistline and shoulders.

The figure-hugging dress is made from six pieces of silk velvet and is unlined. The front has two panels for the bodice, cut rising from the waist at the side seams to a point at center front just below the bust line, where they are joined with a very short 6.4 cm / 2.5 in. seam beneath a deep V-shaped neckline. The bodice fabric is gathered along the top edge of the front skirt panel, which has a matching peak at center front rising to meet the bodice, and which is finished with a band of simple honeycomb smocking 8.9 cm / 3.5 in. wide at the sides, widening to 20.3 cm / 8 in. at the peak. The back of the dress has two bodice panels with a center-back seam and a high neck, gathered at a waist seam to one back skirt panel that has its own 8.9 cm / 3.5 in. wide honeycomb smocked area along its top edge. The smocking on the front and back skirt panels lines up at the 66 cm / 26 in. long skirt side seams; the bodice side seams are 16.5 cm / 6.5 in. long. Both skirt panels are 87.6 cm / 34.5 in. wide.

There are three rows of shirring at each shoulder of the front bodice panel, which run parallel to and just in front of the shoulder seams. The sleeves are short but are very full at the sleeve head, where they are gathered to the scyes on either side of a narrow strip of smocking that is in line with the shoulder seam and that runs the full length of the sleeve to its hem, where the fabric narrows to fit the arm.

The dress pulls on over the head, with accommodation for ease of dressing made by a small opening at the narrowest point at the left side seam just above the waist and into the skirt, closed with four snaps, and with another small opening at the top of the center-back bodice seam, secured with one hook at the neck. A 5.7 cm / 2.25 in. wide sash is sewn at the right side seam and crosses the back of the dress, hiding the back waist seam, before fastening at the left side opening with two hooks. A 11.4 cm / 4.5 in. wide bow is sewn to the sash at the center back, with five stacked lobes in graduated lengths from 14.6 cm / 5.75 in. to 21.6 cm / 8.5 in. Homemade. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.


Bust: 91.4 cm / 36 in.
Waist: 68.6 cm / 27 in.
Shoulder: 11.1 cm / 4.375 in.
Sleeve: 25.4 cm / 10 in.
Hem: 175.2 cm / 69 in.
Length (overall): 102.9 cm / 40.5 in.


Gift of M. Elizabeth Rand, Associate Professor of Home Economics at the University of New Hampshire, 1948 through 1966

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.


Dresses, 1938, One-piece dresses, Silk velvet, Royal blue (color), Knee-length, Short sleeves, Puffed sleeves, Smocking, Honeycomb smocking, V-shaped neckline, Shirring, Sash, Snaps, Hooks, Homemade, Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn, Rand (donor)