In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Historic Clothing Collection


As seen, sections of the collection remain to be enhanced with further examples filling in the Maine fashion story. This is certainly true of this section,1970-1980, which is still at an early stage of development. In due course items from this period will start to become available.

As the collection stands 1970-1980 is represented by an eclectic mix, but that is not inappropriate. No specific style emerged during this decade. It was more of a mix and match period retaining much of the 1960s with a superimposition of aspects of other periods, from the twenties and forties to "mods" and "hippies" melding into a scene where personal preferences prevailed over any dominant "in look." There were mini and maxi skirts, tailored pant suits and pants worn with any type of top. Items saved from college days may find their way into this collection.

The present assortment of teen or young women’s wear speaks of conservative style, rather than hippie and anti-establishment garb. There is a beige wool check pant suit with the long pointed collar of the time, and a short jacket labelled "Crazy Horse", and a wine and navy blue window pane check pant suit with cuffed pants and zip front closure jacket. A pair of hip hugging green denim bell bottom pants, which could have been worn with the hip length belted white vinyl pea or trench coat. There is a green and gold madras plaid cotton searsucker maxi skirt, and a white cotton pique skirt printed with an stylized design of navy, red, and green large bold poppies.

A late or left over from the 1960s example is a synthetic double knit long sleeve purple, tan and white bold diagonal plaid with a belt and labelled "FELIX Portland." Several examples of mid 20th century fashions in the collection were originally sold at Felix Dress Shop, specializing in "women's wearing apparel," which operated in Portland at 16 Forest Ave for just over forty years. It closed its doors in 1976 with the retirement of its proprietress, Delia Frances Felix.

Of thin polyester knits, there is a red high waisted full length long dress with a matching two pocket blazer style jacket; and a dusty rose long dress with three button shoulder details, draped back cowl neckline and long sleeves labelled: 'House of Stiles, Yarmouth.'

Synthetic fibers were used to make pile or faux fur fabrics, an example of which is a short roll collar faux fur bolero jacket. The item is of a natural off-white short pile fur fabric, lined with heavy cream polyester satin, and without a label.

The present 1970s group is rounded out with three garments showing the influence of leading designers, and one with the designer’s label. A long sleeved, mandarin collar lounging or caftan-type garment with knotted buttons is made of cotton sateen with a large bold lime, purple, gold and turquoise print design, very similar to those produced by Catherine Ogust for Penthouse Gallery, New York, the company on the caftan's label. The fabric is also reminiscent of influential Italian designer Emilio Pucci, whose name is synonymous with colorful, dramatic prints.

A Chanel style collarless edge to edge jacket made of diamond quilted pale gray, white and silver lurex flecked fabric is trimmed with nubby lurex flecked braid. It is designed to wear over a dress that features a cream satin bodice attached to the just below knee length matching quilted skirt. The expertly dressmaker-made ensemble is labelled: "Martha Mclean, Portland." At present, this is the collection’s only example of the famous, classic, Channel-style jacket. Near the end of her career in the 1960s and 1970s, Chanel earned acclaim with her beautiful braid trimmed jacket suits.

Also featuring metallic lurex, a lined high neck, long sleeve, slim evening dress is made of a gold flecked red and green paisley print nylon chiffon. It features thick yellow yarn and gold lurex braid edging the neckline, cuffs and inset waistband areas which are studded with multi-colored glass beads. This dress was likely influenced by Yves St. Laurent’s 1970s, exotic, richly embellished fashions inspired by an eclectic mix of embroidered ethnic dress culled from regions worldwide.

Perhaps the most elegant, and certainly unusual, evening dress in the collection is a Geoffrey Beene long gray wool A-line, high waist, sleeveless, square neck dress. The upper bodice features a two-inch wide band of solid diamanté beading that forms a square yoke, and becomes shoulder straps. The lower skirt inside seam bears a label marked "B Green Room," and includes the Beene signature cursive "B." The gown is associated with Cecile P. Carver of Cape Elizabeth.