This smart suit in fine navy blue wool has a label to identify that it was made by Herbert Haynes and Co, drapers and costumiers of Princes Street, Dunedin. It is another classic example of the tailor-made suit that was so emblematic of the ‘New Woman’ ideal of the early twentieth century, especially among British suffragettes. Beginning as a rather severe fashion for walking, travelling or for career girls, it developed into an elegant option for daytime wear. This example is enlivened with black satin and decorative buttons: on the lapels of the elaborate collar; in the embellishments on the cuffs and basque line seam of the jacket; and in the revers at front and back of the skirt.

Ellen Taylor wore this suit as her ‘going away’ outfit, following her marriage to Andrew Smaill on 11 November 1913 at Tuapeka West where her father had been the pioneer Presbyterian minister. Following their honeymoon, the Smaills settled on a farm at Dunrobin where Ellen raised four children. Ellen’s older sister had operated a dress-making business in the nearby town of Heriot and it is thought Ellen may have worked there before her marriage. She is remembered as a capable sewer who provided clothing for her children. She was a woman with a good dress sense but, as her daughter notes “there was little opportunity at Dunrobin for the exercise of fashion consciousness”. Ellen Smaill died in 1964 aged 79.
Herbert, Haynes and Company
Production Date
Circa 1913
Jacket 725x445x300mm (on mannequin)
Skirt 805x510x370mm (on mannequin)