Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Vera Maxwell, 1959
Not on view
With a dream of being a dancer, Vera Maxwell arrived in the fashion world through the back door. Working first as a showroom model, she then became interested in the actual construction of the clothes. Not always agreeing with what was being offered, she began to make as well as mix and match her own clothes, which department store buyers from Lord & Taylor and Best Co. began to notice. Maxwell states that her first "real" design job was with Adler & Adler, where she worked from 1936-1937 and afterwards, found contract work to be very advantageous. Her classic, comfortable and timeless designs continued to garner praise and in 1947she opened a business under her own name, Vera Maxwell Originals. Her career outlasted that of her contemporaries, as she did not stop designing until 1985.
The shirtwaist dress is an iconic look of the fifties, which Maxwell has executed well with this ensemble. Her choice of Harris Tweed for the jacket is no surprise, as she promoted the use of tweeds in all of her collections. A Maxwell touch, she often lined her jackets with the dress fabric, bringing a sense of harmony to the ensemble.