Taffeta bodice by Miss L.K. Stanley, Portland, ca. 1895

Contributed by Maine Historical Society


A black and red silk bodice with a stamped waistband reading "Miss L.K. Stanley/511 ½ CONGRESS ST./ PORTLAND, ME is indicative of mid-1890s style. The bodice includes black and red woven taffeta and black silk satin. The high neck and front are decorated with black glass beads. The full balloon sleeves are representative of a mid-1890s trend which saw the brief reemergence of the gigot, or leg of mutton sleeve, popularized in the 1830s. This distinct style feature helps date the garment to the about 1895, as the sleeve reached its fullest in the middle of the decade.

The waistband (also known as waist tape or tailor's tape) used to reinforce the structured garment is stamped with Portland dressmaker Luella K. Stanley's name and address. However, due to its distinct 1890s style, Luella K. Stanley may or may not have created the item for a client. By the late 1880s onward, Luella K. Stanley, then Luella Russell, was no longer officially working as a dressmaker. Although, her younger sister Sarah E. Stanley appears to have carried on the business. Its possible that either Luella (Stanley) Russell created the garment after she "retired" from dressmaking, or Sarah Stanley used her older sister's left-over waist tape.

Luella K. Stanley, originally from Winthrop, moved to Portland with her family in the 1870s where she worked as a dressmaker for at least a decade. Between 1884 and 1886, Luella K. Stanley worked at 511½ Congress St. In 1886, she married John Russell, a carriage maker, who operated his business at the 511½ address until 1890, when Luella's younger sister Sarah took over the space. By 1892, Sarah herself vacated the 511½ address, transitioning her dressmaking business to the family home on Cumberland Ave.

While the bodice's distinctive puffed sleeve date the piece from the period after Sarah E. Stanley removed to the Cumberland Ave. address, the waist tape attributes the bodice to at least one of the Stanley sisters. Interestingly, the customer who purchased the bodice is unknown.

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About This Item

  • Title: Taffeta bodice by Miss L.K. Stanley, Portland, ca. 1895
  • Creator: Stanley, Luella K.
  • Creation Date: circa 1895
  • Subject Date: circa 1895
  • Town: Portland
  • County: Cumberland
  • State: ME
  • Media: silk, cotton, glass, metal
  • Dimensions: 46.990 cm x 63.500 cm
  • Local Code: 2005.001.068
  • Collection: Costume collection
  • Object Type: Physical Object

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For more information about this item, contact:

Maine Historical Society
485 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774-1822 x230

This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. No Permission is required to use the low-resolution watermarked image for educational use, or as allowed by the applicable copyright. For all other uses, permission is required.

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