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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Wednesday, January 02, 2008
20th-Century Men's Clothing
Posted by Maureen

I'm trying something different this week and my fingers are crossed that it's going to work. I've tagged this week's photo so that you can spot the details I'm talking about. If you want to do this to your digitized photographs, you can download a bit of free software from Fototagger.com.

Russell Chowning submitted this picture, a perfect example of how it takes many clues to determine a date. Let's add up the head-to-toe details:
  • This man wears a wide brimmed hat set rakishly back on his head. He's relaxed for this portrait.
  • His suit has padded shoulders. That detail alone could date the picture to the 1940s, but additional features of his suit rule out that date.
  • Notice the large pocket on the left side of his suit and the button trim on the sleeves. This suggests this portrait dates from earlier in the 20th century. The sleeve trim is similar to details on suits from the late 1910s.
  • This man has paired his suit with a light-colored, soft-collared shirt and a silk tie, also in a light color.
  • He wears embroidered, light-colored socks. You could buy these through catalogs in the WWI period. In the 1920s, this simple pattern was replaced by brightly colored argyle socks.
  • His shoes are a bit of a mystery. The opening (known as the cuff) comes to the ankle like shoes worn in the period from 1914 to 1920, but I can't find similar shoes in catalogs from that time frame.
All these facts point to this picture being taken around 1919. The final detail helps determine that date. Notice the narrow pants leg at the ankle. Around 1920, men's pants narrowed at the ankle. In the 1920s, pants got wider.

(Click on this image to open a bigger version in your Web browser, then click on the bigger version image to magnify it.)

Merged.jpg

A couple of weeks ago I asked readers for photos with interesting backgrounds. Here, you see a simple backdrop with few architectural details (stairs, doors and curtains) and no scenery. It was decades old when the portrait was taken—the paint is so old it's crackled. Either this photographer had been in business for a long time, or he purchased the canvas used. 

1910s photos | men
Wednesday, January 02, 2008 4:39:06 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [1]
Thursday, January 03, 2008 10:39:01 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I once saw a wedding photo of a friend's parents.The groom looked very big for the small head, and the collar was gapping around his neck. My friend explained that the local photographer in this PA mining town had a "dummy" groom body which the groom (fresh from the mines and not able to get really snazzed up)used. He would wash face, comb hair and stand behind his phony body! I guess her father didn't quite fit the frame.The bride was in her real body.
Amy Kenneley
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