Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses


Silk, cotton, lace, jet


1860s. Blue, yellow, and black plaid silk dress with matching separate skirt and bodice; evening bodice is back-opening with a wide neckline and short puff sleeves, and a floor-length skirt pleated to a waistband. See 74 a,c for the matching day bodice.

The bodice has a one-piece front panel shaped with two boned darts per side for the bust and one piece of boning at center front, and two back panels with no tucks or shaping. Its neckline is wide and scooped, falling far to the edge of the shoulders. The waistline is at the natural level, very slightly dipped in front with a shallow curve. The bodice is back closing with seven removable buttons; buttonholes are sewn to the left side, and eyelets for button shanks are sewn to the right. It has a brown twill cotton lining.

The shoulders are dropped. Short sleeves are fitted to the scye with a series of tucks at the seam, releasing the fabric over the arm into a puff.

The skirt has a plain silk waistband to which the eight straight panels are evenly pleated. Five of the panels are 52.1 cm / 20.5 in. wide, sewn selvedge to selvedge, and the remaining three panels are cut down to 50.8 cm / 20 in., 47.3 cm / 18.62 in., and 38.7 cm / 15.25 in. The skirt is longer in back than in front and has a center-back opening closed with one hook and eye. The skirt is lined in bright blue polished cotton.

There is piping finishing the neckline, scyes, and waist. The sleeves are edged with black lace and jet beaded trim. Of note: the plaid fabric is used differently in the bodice here than for the matching day bodice. Both bodices have darts beneath the bust, but the evening bodice pulls more fabric into the darts so that the prominent vertical stripes of the plaid form a strong visual V from the shoulders down to the center front of the waist. Hand-sewn.


Bust: 86.4 cm / 34 in.
Waist: 61 cm / 24 in.
Sleeve: 12.7 cm / 5 in.
Shoulder seam: 5.1 cm / 2 in.
Hem: 397.2 cm / 156.375 in.
Skirt length (front): 101.6 cm / 40 in.
Skirt length (back): 111.8 cm / 44 in.


Gift of Mary Pepperrell Ffrost Sawyer Likely worn by Susan Cowan Sawyer.

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.

Ffrost-Sawyer_history.pdf (75 kB)
Ffrost-Sawyer history


Dresses, 1860s, Evening bodice, Silk, Plaid (pattern), Blue (color), Yellow (color), Black (color), Wide neckline, Scooped neckline, Dropped shoulders, Short sleeves, Puffed sleeves, Lace, Jet beaded trim, Boned darts, Boning, Removable buttons, Twill cotton lining, Brown (color), Floor-length skirt, Natural waistline, Hooks and eyes, Polished cotton, Piping, Hand-sewn, Ffrost Sawyer (donor), Ffrost (donor), Frost (donor)