I am totally blown away by all of your supportive comments on my last post dealing with vintage photographs used for style inspiration or clothing history study. You guys are TRULY awesome. I feel so much better, and you all made me feel so chipper! As I mentioned before, I’m sometimes hesitant of sharing blogs on my personal thoughts or opinions (although, believe me, I do have lots of them ;) ) but you all made me feel so confident and seriously HAPPY! I’m so blessed by the internet and all the similar thinking people that we can be in touch with on here. So THANK YOU so much!
You are all so thoughtful with your response. In fact, I really suggest you go back and read others comments, which I’m going to share a little snippet of here.
Click the link below to continue reading, if you don’t see the whole post already.
Pepper Reed says ” Seeing what folks wore day in and day out through the Depression and other eras, etc. is so very important, both historically and culturally. “.
This is SO very true, in my opinion. High fashion magazines, movies, and photographs don’t often show how the average person was impacted in the 1930s. Library of Congress has some great photographs of the dust bowl and other parts of the 1930’s, including Dorothea Lange’s photos, but home photos are also a great way to see how people clothed themselves and attempted at beauty in a time of serious financial hardship.
Sara says “Even if there are dates on the photos, they may have been written by a family member long after the photo event and may be incorrect anyway. (Painful lesson from genealogy speaking here) “. Robin’s Egg Bleu says “There are so many photographs out there which are dated incorrectly it’s not funny. These are often done years later by fuzzy memories. There’s no perfect way to date a photograph, and trusting what’s written on the back is okay in a general sense, but not necessary.”
These are both excellent points. I have seen many photographs which are obviously dated incorrectly on the back, and I will even go so far as to say that I have seen articles of clothing which were dated incorrectly in museums. Dated items are great, but not always completely accurate. We’re just lucky these days with our digital cameras that they automatically program that in for us, otherwise I know I would forget what year my photos were taken ;)
Dakota says “Truly, I find everyday snapshots even more interesting than perfect fashion shoots, and the lack of an exact date doesn’t matter much to me– after all, not many ordinary folks would completely overhaul their wardrobe with the changing tides in fashion, right! You might have the rural farming families or old-fashioned grannies who’d still be wearing fashions from several years or even decades ago, for instance; a mish-mash of old and new.”
This is a VERY good point, which is why it makes dating actual photographs extremely hard. The more we learn about fashion history the more we can make educated guesses about when the clothing would be worn, but clothing would often be years or decades behind mainstream fashion, especially when worn by older people. And the thought on overhauling wardrobes is a serious thought of mine, especially when it comes to recreating a specific time period for historical events. Even if an event was to take place, say, in 1935- we have to take into account where it would be, what type of event it would be, and the type of person we are portraying. So if we’re in 1935 Kansas we’re not necessarily going to be dressed in 1935 fashions as shown by Vogue- but perhaps as shown in McCall’s or Ladies Home Journal, if we’re lucky and our person could afford to make or buy a new dress that year or not!
Meg says “If you wanted (and were able to come across them), it would be interesting to see people from different economic backgrounds and ethnicities in period photographs. I have some of my grandmother in Occupied Japan in the late 40s I could email you. Also, almost all of these photos are snapshots — the people in them or taking them would have had to have had enough disposable income to own a camera, buy film, and develop the prints. That kind of rules out poor sharecroppers etc. unfortunately, but the truth is that there is a hole in the record because of economic issues *at the time* — I think you *are* showing real people, they just happen to be the ones that were able to record themselves on film. What’s so great about this feature is that a lot of these clothes didn’t survive because they weren’t anything special; it’s wonderful to get a feel for not only what pieces people were wearing, but also how they were wearing them.”
This is a very good point, about those being able to actually afford the luxury of film and camera. I think it’s really interesting at looking at the old photos when you can tell that a family was visiting relations who obviously had less means than themselves. Often you’ll get group pictures with someone in relatively newer fashions next to a family who obviously had less means. It’s a fascinating look at society, I think. I’ve been keeping my eye out for photos of different cultures but don’t run across them very often (though I’m excited that Meg is going to let me share some photos of her family! Yay!). If you’re all not following the Of Another Fashion blog on Tumblr, you should check it out as they post beautiful photos of ladies from all different cultures.
What I Found shares a funny story- “I do have a story. There is a photo of my Grandmother that I had always liked, she’s in profile and has a fancy ruffled blouse and long pearl earrings. I thought she looked so glamorous. I mentioned the photo to my Mom and she burst out laughing. Seems she and her sisters had been bugging her to have her photo taken and so she dressed up in “silly” clothes and borrowed “ridiculous” earrings as a joke.
So you can’t be sure of what you are seeing. “
There’s lots of more great observations, so go back and check them out if you’re so inclined. And THANK YOU for sharing your thoughts and comments with me!!!
Now, we have some great suggestions for possible new names, or we can keep the name as it is, as “What Real People Wore.” If you have a moment please vote in the poll below of the names suggested by readers.
You guys are great! Thanks again!
BethJanuary 6, 2012 at 5:30 pm (11 years ago)
I voted for “Wearing History – Day by Day” but I also lurve the “Snapshots in Time” name. Hope you choose one of those! :)
PepperReedJanuary 6, 2012 at 5:33 pm (11 years ago)
Amy DarsieJanuary 7, 2012 at 11:40 am (11 years ago)
I love the idea of looking at old photos for inspiration, and I want to do the same this year, as I sew and also build my vintage clothing collection. I have some great photos that I would be happy to share with you, of my Grandparents in the 1940’s. One set lived outside of NYC and the other on farms in Virginia.
Jeanie BJanuary 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm (11 years ago)
I have some lovely old shots of my Dad from the 40’s when he was a young man (he died many years ago now) – one in particular where he looks like Errol Flynn with a pencil tache – I almost swoon. I later learned he was dressed for a role in an Amateur Dramatics play, he never *actually* sported that look. I don’t tell everyone!
I Think ‘What People Wore’ says it all.
LynnJanuary 8, 2012 at 9:53 am (11 years ago)
I also chose, “Wearing History – Day by Day”, although what you have now is fine as well. I posted some photos from my own collection, and have plenty more I will post over time. I know next to nothing about the people in my collection (they are relatives of relatives) except that one of the women was single her whole life. She appears in quite a few of the shots I have posted. I love the ones that aren’t so “posed” – everyday shots much like what we have today. Mine are not dated either.
I share Dakota’s sentiments. Thank you for sharing your photos with us.
DeeJanuary 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm (11 years ago)
I’m a bit late commenting. I love old photos and don’t mind a bit if they’re not dated. Also, just as further information, my grandmother’s family lived in the American southwest and the few photos that there are from when they were young (they were not well off and didn’t have a camera) were taken by a sort of traveling photographer. I don’t know if that was common anywhere else.
HeidiAphroditeJanuary 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm (11 years ago)
“Even if an event was to take place, say, in 1935- we have to take into account where it would be, what type of event it would be, and the type of person we are portraying. So if we’re in 1935 Kansas we’re not necessarily going to be dressed in 1935 fashions as shown by Vogue- but perhaps as shown in McCall’s or Ladies Home Journal, if we’re lucky and our person could afford to make or buy a new dress that year or not!” You are exactly right. It is naive and presumptuous to assume that you can accurately date a photograph of a “real person” based on clothing, especially if that real person wasn’t wealthy. It’s like the argument against basing our ideas of what people wore purely on fashion photographs–it is wrong and amateurish to take things like this at face value. There is so much more to it than that, and thank you for putting it into words so beautifully! Please keep posting your pictures. :)