In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Historic Clothing Collection

Early Twentieth Century

Lewiston's Mary King Scrimgeour's small, but outstanding, group of late-1890s to early 1900s fashionable garments segue this overview into the twentieth century. As the wife of master mechanic Charles Scrimgeour, who helped with the electrification of Bates Manufacturing Company mills, Mrs. Scrimgeour was well positioned to enjoy a sophisticated social life, and afford fine dressmaking to go with it.

The family moved from Ontario, Canada, to Lewiston in 1885. Dating into the mid 1890s her couture quality wine velvet and cream figured silk double gigot sleeved dinner or opera dress, and her openwork cream silk and chiffon opera coat are certainly Maine dressmaker made. Encrusted with turn-of-the-century details and trimmings, and probably inspired by French fashion prints, her delicate bloused-bodice peach and cream leafy print voile dress is labelled "Dunton Robes of Augusta."

Fashion moves forward into the new century with Mary Scrimgeour’s elegant black suit dress with its aquamarine silk lining visible under the fitted jacket’s open work detailing, and full length rustling aquamarine silk petticoat seen under openwork on the tailored smooth hipped skirt’s hemline flare.

In 1904, Mandel's Department Store in New York advertised a high quality fashionable ready-made suit priced at $25.00 (approximately $700.00 in the year 2020). The cost of Mrs. Scrimgeour's custom, detailed, dressmaker-made suit can only be guessed.