Label ‘Mina Taylor Reg. U.S. Pat. Off.’
The small label ‘Mina Taylor’ inside the neckline of this dress provides clues to its manufacture and the market at which it was aimed. ‘Mina Taylor’ was established in 1914 as the trade name of M. F. Smith & Company, Inc., master garment makers of Omaha, Nebraska, who by the early 1920s were clearly targeting the generation of post-war, middle class women now having to shoulder more responsibilities of the home and garden at the same time as maintaining a sense of gentility and elegance. The company commissioned a series of attractive full colour magazine advertising illustrations, in each of which two or three women were seen wearing their dresses in the domestic setting of spacious, light-filled interiors or large gardens abundant with flowers (see links below caption). The copy stressed versatility, ‘Mina Taylor Dresses are house dresses with a drawing room manner’, practical enough for baking a cake, and attractive enough to greet one’s visitors. Despite the heavy domestic emphasis one of the images shows three women in an office setting (a sign of the times), ‘You can bring a suggestion of flower dotted country lanes into the torrid city … and do your work so much more easily and efficiently – if you wear Mina Taylor Frocks’ (see https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015013151884?urlappend=%3Bseq=1185 ). Great importance was placed upon the quality of design, manufacture, and materials that were comfortable, colour-fast and easy to launder. Many of their dresses were shown in clear-coloured plain or checked fabrics or a combination of both, with interesting and imaginative details.
This dress lives up to these advertising claims, being made from sturdy, yet cool, faintly striped cream cotton, with double stitched seams and button fastenings within the wrapover front to prevent it from gaping in movements; the frilled muslin collar and cuffs provide a soft, feminine touch. But for its fabric and belt, it is virtually identical in style to the dress on the right of the illustration of three women picking grapes in the September 1921 issue of ‘The Ladies Home Journal’: https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015020919026?urlappend=%3Bseq=1412.
More Mina Taylor advertising: https://hdl.handle.net/2027/umn.31951000583380f?urlappend=%3Bseq=123