Twenty five years in the business feels like 25 seconds.
Back in the 1970’s, the Maine town that I grew up in had one movie theatre, a drug store, a gas station, and most importantly, a five-and-dime store called Dysart’s that sold fabric.
My mother, my sisters and I would walk to Dysart’s in search of a yard or two of material and a new Butterick (or, on a good day, Vogue) pattern. Before box stores, before strip malls, it was THE way we did fashion. Collectively we created some of the more questionable skirts, suits, and dresses of the 1970’s. (An orange plaid suit for an 8th grade trip to Washington, DC comes to mind.) We made bell-bottoms, elephant trousers—everything and anything that defined the times.
It would take my sister, Jennifer, first born and the fastest seamstress, one hour to create a new look for the next school day. With a third of a yard of fabric and a 7-inch zipper, she made dozens of mini-skirts to wear with her knee-high Frye boots, purchased with money she earned ironing sheets for 25 cents an hour.
Like my Mother...
who wishes she’d saved all of her outfits from the 1950s, I wish I had saved all my botched designs. They just might have been small miracles in the making. Finding the right material at the five and dime has turned into sourcing the best fabrics on the planet for my line of clothing. Sewing from the latest commercial pattern has turned into tweaking the latest pattern drafted by my own hand to create a truly great white shirt for you.
Maker of fine women’s shirts since 1994
The first line of clothing from Jill McGowan, Inc. was a series of white shirts. This line was inspired by her work as a patternmaker in the men’s shirt industry. After comparing her work on men’s shirts to women’s clothing of equal price, she recognized the genuine need to improve the standard of women’s clothing.
Jill’s shirts and seasonal collections are available online and in specialty stores throughout the United States. Jill McGowan opened her flagship store in Portland Maine in 2019. All Jill McGowan products are Made in the USA.
Jill and her team operate Jill McGowan, Inc. from their corporate office in Portland, Maine.