Murray_Meisner_secretarydress

Jill Meisner

In the 1970s, the New York Times wrote an article about my grandfather, Murray Meisner. They called him “the man who dressed New York.” Through the 70s and part of the 80s, his eponymous womenswear company was known for its practical dresses. They were sold at J.C. Penny’s and Sears to secretaries and other working women. One denim dress he designed became so popular that he had to move all the company’s manufacturing to China to keep up with the demand – that was a really big deal back then.

One day, sometime in 2003, I was bored at work and I Googled my grandfather. I found a few of his dresses for sale on eBay, Etsy, and an online vintage boutique. I started buying the ones I could imagine wearing. That began my Murray Meisner dress collection.

I have six now. When I told my grandfather I was collecting his dresses, he thought it was hysterical. “You’re doing what? Your grandmother would have a heart attack if she knew,” he told me. My grandmother had been one of those New York women who lived on the Upper East Side and didn’t work. She’d never consider wearing one of her husband’s dresses. She wore almost exclusively Chanel. And every Saturday she’d walk up and down Fifth Avenue window-shopping. I guess you could say she was sort of snobby, but there was more to her than that.

In 2004, I started my own company, which required a more professional look. I had to go from dressing like a kid to dressing like an adult. And so strangely, I found myself – as thousands of women had decades before me – slipping into Murray Meisner originals to head to the office.

Jill Meisner is a creative public relations professional living in Brooklyn and working in Manhattan. She just returned to New York after living, biking and hiking in Portland for three years.


7 Comments on “Jill Meisner”

  1. 1 John Hashagen said at 10:15 pm on May 6th, 2011:

    Smooth, polished, smart … the Murray Meisner of those days was all of that, but he never took himself so seriously that he couldn’t take a little time to educate a young lending officer on the ways of Seventh Avenue. I remember Murray well, along with Joe Katzman, Alfred Green, et al. As a banker, I always appreciated Murray’s skill and reliability. As a person, I always appreciated his kindness.

  2. 2 Jill Meisner said at 1:16 pm on May 7th, 2011:

    Thank you John! I am sure my grandfather will be very happy to know that you feel this way! I will be sure to show him the next time I go visit him. Hope you’re well!

  3. 3 Robin Kerr Drulard said at 8:43 pm on May 7th, 2011:

    My dear childhood friend Debbie Friedman Scaccio worked for Murray in the ’70s and ’80s, when we both joined the garment industry. Debbie dressed me with Murray’s dresses for a lot of years. I still have and use a faux-suede envelope/binder with his logo on it!

  4. 4 Betsy Daily said at 1:30 pm on June 20th, 2011:

    I was one of his out of town buyers who could not buy enough of his famous bra dresses, they sold by the thousands. He was a real gentleman from the old school and it was great doing lots of business with him. Give him my regards. Betsy Daily

  5. 5 Patrice Marie said at 4:07 pm on July 8th, 2011:

    Dear Jill: As a long time Riverdale resident,I remember– believe it or not, babysitting for your brother Brian when he was an infant.I was a high school student.Your parent’s were both very young starting a family in Riverdale. It is amazing to see what a smart,savvy daughter they have raised.I wish you loads of good luck in your PR career! Yes..!Please continue to wear your “Murray” fashions! This “LADY”–is no snob! Ha–She’s a realist!….Patrice Marie

  6. 6 BreakThru Radio said at 10:29 am on September 14th, 2012:

    [...] textile line MociunDaphne Javitch, costume designer, stylist, and designer of underwear line TENJill Meisner, Brooklyn-based creative PR professionalTodd Selby, photographer of The Selby Is In Your [...]

  7. 7 A Holiday Shopping Reminder: Do We Really Need That Extra Pair of Jeans? | Threaded said at 5:32 pm on November 29th, 2012:

    [...] stories about clothing and memory, contributors pause on a garment to explore its history. Jill Meisner collects—and wears—vintage dresses designed by her grandfather Murray Meisner. Murray created a [...]


Leave a Reply