Dating more old photograph
Wealthy subjects had many fashionable ensembles to choose from, whereas ordinary working-class ancestors usually donned their best outfit, kept for church on Sundays and special occasions.Everyone wished to create a good impression in the treasured photographs that would later be shown to family and friends and might be displayed in an album, or hung on the wall.Dress is a vast and complex subject, but here are some pointers to help with understanding, identifying and dating the clothing styles of those family members from the past who stood before the camera in their 'Sunday best'.Fashion in photographs It was understood that clients visiting the photographer's studio (or, less commonly, those inviting a photographer to their home) would be dressed in their best quality, most fashionable clothing.Essentially here we are aiming to use fashion clues cautiously but positively – to establish a realistic time frame for an undated and/or unidentified image that will help to rule in, or out, certain branches and individual members of the family.In the following sections are some basic, practical tips for recognising the main stylistic changes in female, male and children's dress, with illustrated examples.
The new, elongated cuirass bodice effectively forced the bustle downwards and in the late 1870s the excess drapery fell into a long train behind (fig.7).
Children's dress, which echoed adult clothing to a degree, but also followed its own conventions, may also be harder to pinpoint very precisely.
That said, it should always be possible to gain a reasonable date range for a photograph, based on the appearance of its subject's clothing, especially when this technique is combined with the other photo dating methods already covered in previous blogs.
Like today, some of our forebears were more interested in their personal appearance than others, spending proportionately more of their income on new clothes and accessories.
Age was especially significant when it came to dress.Welcome to the fifth in our series of blogs about how to understand and interpret your old family photos.In this series, Jayne Shrimpton, internationally recognised dress historian, portrait specialist, photo detective and regular contributor to Family Tree, Your Family History and Family History Monthly magazines, dates and analyses different types of photographs and helps you to add context to your old family pictures.Sadly, those unwaged or destitute family members who were so impoverished as to own only old-fashioned, ill-fitting or ragged clothing were unlikely to have had their photograph taken very often, if at all.