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Playing Dress Up

Jill McGowan's spring 2024 collection proves white is anything but plain

Article by Becca Abramson

Photography by Winky Lewis and Peter Macomber

Originally published in Portland City Lifestyle

In 1994, Jill McGowan took a leap of faith and left a stable job with benefits to start a business with a simple mission: to create quality clothing for women that would endure fashion whims and changes. Celebrating her 30th year of business in 2024, McGowan continues to focus on quality apparel with style and integrity that holds up over time.

“More than ever, we’re finding that consumers are paying attention to where their garments come from and who is behind the brand,” McGowan explains. Additionally, comfort and ease are key this season. “No one should have to think too much about what they are wearing on a day-to-day basis, and we try to make that job as easy as possible for our customers,” she notes.

Jill McGowan’s spring 2024 collection features the boutique’s core white shirts in new styles and fabrics along with high-quality linens in bright stripes and plaids. “My personal favorites this season are the shirts we developed with panels built in to combine the comfort of a t-shirt with the feeling of being dressed for work,” McGowan says. “Edith is one of those styles, and Mere features a white eyelet with a built-in knit back and sweatshirt cuffs. The idea behind it is to look dressed up but feel as comfortable as possible,” she adds. McGowan drew inspiration for the collection from popular athleisure and incorporated her favorite elements into everyday garments appropriate for work. 

While easy-to-wear and easy-care knit paneled shirts and Ponte trousers are on display this spring, McGowan is working on full circle skirts in silks and silk blends for special occasions as part of a future collection. “The advantage of our Portland store is that we have new merchandise arriving on a weekly basis because we manufacture locally. We can easily pivot if we know we need to add something new to our collection. Listening to our customers, finding inspiration around us, and sourcing the best fabrics available are what we are all about and hope to continue for another 30 years,” she says.

The idea behind this collection is to look dressed up but feel as comfortable as possible.

When Jill McGowan compared her work on men’s shirts to women’s clothing of equal price, she recognized the genuine need to improve the standard of women’s clothing. The first collection from Jill McGowan, Inc., established in 1994, was a series of white shirts inspired by Jill's work as a patternmaker for the Hathaway Shirt Co. Today, Jill lives in Maine with her husband and dog.