Jill McGowan

By Amy Power | Photos by Amanda Whitegiver
October 10, 2018

The phrase “Made in Maine” has a proud tradition of quality, and Maine Makers are one of our favorite things to write about, particularly female makers. This is why Amanda and I were positively thrilled when Jill McGowan agreed to lend us two complete outfits for our recent article in Maine Women Magazine. Many of you already know her as the creative force behind “The Great White Shirt”. She’s been a staple of Maine Fashion since 1994 when she launched her line. Since then she has been building relationships with mills (personally touring them to ensure ethical labor practices) throughout Italy, Switzerland, and Belgium and bringing the highest quality materials back to Maine.

Designed and made right in Portland, the classic tailoring and exceptional quality result in closet staples that withstand the test of time (both from a wear and a style perspective). One thing we love about Jill’s designs is that they form a solid base from which you can build out any look. We opted for two of her most classic designs for our article, the Astrid and the Ellen.

The Astrid

Astrid is an “easy cut shirt”, meaning it is a little fuller than a tailored option, like the Ellen. As a large-busted, petite, apple shaped woman, I greatly appreciated this! I typically struggle with button ups because I find they tend to gape through the bust, and run too large through the shoulders if they fit through my chest. I wore a size medium in the Astrid and chose to tuck it in to give myself a little more shape, but I think it was perfectly flattering untucked as well. The shirt hit at approximately hip length, and may not be as “tuckable” on a taller woman (I am 5’ 1”, so bear that in mind!).  I absolutely loved that the stiff collar could be popped or not, depending on how sassy I am feeling. The subtle polka dot was one of my favorite prints available in the store at the time.


The Ellen

Ellen is a more of a classic shirt than the Astrid. It’s similar to a men’s tailored shirt with the stiff collar, cuff and button down, but it offers more shape than a boyfriend cut. This slimmer cut gives me the room I need though the bust while the side shaping creates a flattering, tailored silhouette through the rest of my body. So it’s not just a boxy shirt. I don’t really have curves to my waist and hips, but this shirt created the illusion! It is also long enough to be tucked in if you choose (even if you’re taller than me) and layers really nicely under sweaters and jackets. We chose to go for a super polished vibe with the cozy cashmere poncho, but it really offers the perfect base for just about any look you’re seeking to achieve. I opted for the medium here as well, but likely could have worn the small in either shirt if I wanted a more fitted look. Given my bust, however, I erred on the side of caution and sized up to the medium in both cases.

There’s something about a perfectly crafted button up, jeans and flats that makes me feel ready to take on the world. Fashion certainly has its share of innovations, but the empowerment we magically feel from this simply pulled-together combination will always make it a winner. Given that we wanted to make the accessories from Jessica Hart Lynch pop, we kept to really basic colors for our photoshoot, but Jill sources some simply stunning and sometimes playful fabrics that you really have to touch and feel. Thanks, Jill, for letting us borrow your amazing pieces! We’re looking forward to 24 more years of closet staples artfully crafted in our backyard! <3

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