Minnetrista Blogs

Ball Women Fashion

From big and extravagant to slender and elegant, the evolution of women’s traces self-expression through history. Style showcases personality without ever saying a word. This was the case for the Ball women. For decades, they used clothing as a way to display not only their personality, but their social status. Let’s take a look at some of these beautiful pieces that have stood the test of time, pieces that have been entrusted to Minnetrista for safe-keeping.

Elizabeth Brady Ball was the daughter of Thomas J. and Emeline Wolfe Brady. She came from a family of strong community leaders. Her father was one of Indiana’s best-known men as he organized his own company in Muncie during the Civil War and retired with the rank of brigadier general. Elizabeth’s grandfather was John Brady, who served as Muncie’s first mayor and did much to establish the city. Her membership in a variety of organizations and numerous private benefactions helped her to become one of Muncie’s cultural leaders.  Much of Elizabeth’s time was spent in her library and traveling abroad extensively. In 1893, she married Frank Clayton Ball in a very appropriate yet extravagant dress.  With the high neck trimmed with rows of seed pearls and the leg-of-mutton sleeves, this dress had a boned bodice. The front and sides of the skirt are covered by drapery and it is trimmed with wide ruffles on the bottom edge.

Isabel Urban Ball was the first wife of Edmund F. Ball. In 1949, Isabel died due to an unexpected boat explosion. The garment pictured was stored in Edmund’s World War II issued footlocker along wither several other clothing items owned by Isabel. This red silk velvet dress is thought to have been from the early to late 1930s. It is sleeveless and has a front neckline cut at the collar bone. The back of the dress is cut just below the shoulder blades and the skirt is slightly flared at the bottom.

Hellen Ball Robinson was the only child of Lucius Lorenzo Ball and Sarah Rogers Ball. She was educated in private schools her entire life and was an active member of the Bronxville Reformed Church for more than 60 years. She was also the founding member of the Bronxville League of Women Voters and many other community organizations. The Kimono pictured is said to be purchased on a 1910 trip to Japan. It is intricately embroidered and hand-painted with birds, flowers, trees, and other nature scenes. It is lightweight and then with long and square sleeves hitting at the wrist. The kimono appears to be mostly, if not entirely, hand-sewn.