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3. 1968 Wedding Mini-Dress of Ellen McPhillips Baumann


An interview with Ellen McPhillips Baumann - read the transcript

ID#: VC2007020abc
Date: 1968
Creator: Henri Bendel (store - dress); Design by Evins (shoes)
Region: New York, USA
Culture: American
Materials: rayon moire faille, plastic buttons (dress); satin, leather, rhinestones (shoes)
Label reads: Henri Bendel NY Young Bendel (dress); Design by Evins (shoes)

Ellen McPhillips Baumann (Vassar class of 1963) married in 1968 wearing this mini-dress. She is the daughter of Leontine Kennedy McPhillips (Vassar class of 1926), sister of Mary Lee McPhillips Hartzell (Vassar of 1953), aunt of Leontine Hartzell (Vassar class of 1979), and great-aunt of Anna Kichorowsky Langdell (Vassar class of 2006).

The sixties were a time of many societal changes. The civil rights movement was in full swing, young people were refining the art of protest, and women everywhere were pushing new boundaries. This dress is a dramatic departure from the more traditional wedding gown form; the waist is hardly visible, and the length is very casual. This is a perfect example of those big changes happening on a smaller scale. The material is a thick watermarked moire: feminine in the way it catches light, but sturdy enough to stand on its own. 

One might attribute the bold style to the young energy of the time, however, it was chosen for a practical purpose. While Ellen McPhillips Baumann and her husband-to be had been dating for several years, their engagement was short - they decided to marry just three weeks after becoming engaged, so that Ellen’s brother could attend the wedding before leaving for Vietnam. Ellen wanted to avoid rumors of pregnancy, so she chose a shorter, form-fitting dress.

- Ruby Pierce (Vassar class of 2016)

“I fell for this guy in a uniform.”

“I chose that very fitted gown because I said to my mother, ‘I think everyone in town is going to think I'm pregnant and that's why we're rushing, you know, to get married in three weeks!’” - Ellen McPhillips Baumann (Vassar class of 1963)