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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, February 20, 2012
Foreign vs. American Fashion
Posted by Maureen

My mind is focused on packing for Who Do You Think You Are? Live! in London.  I'll be at this dynamic trade show for three days and I'll be presenting two lectures—one about online picture research and the other on writing your family memoir.  Can't wait!!

While I'm in London looking at pictures I thought it would be a good time for a quiz. I've been to WDYTYA three years in a row looking at pictures.   It's been a learning experience.  The number one question folks ask me when I'm there is "what's the difference between American and English fashion?" 

No, not all Americans dressed in Western style hats. 

Photographic methods vary just a bit. Daguerreotypes weren't as common in England as America, but early paper photographs were available from 1839 on. The American invention, the tintype, also wasn't as popular in England. 

Clothing is a little more difficult. The differences can be subtle or dramatic.  Everyday dress is about the same, but occupational dress has several distinctions.

So...here are two pictures.  Vote in the comment section below and tell me which is a British man and which is American.  I'll weigh in when I return. 

Photo one
meninhat2.jpg

Photo two

maninhat.jpg

(If you like these hats you should see the ones in my new Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900. It's available in the ShopFamilyTree store. Click the link below.)

If you happen to be in London, stop by the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! photo gallery and say hello.

Thank you for participating in my Silly Old Photo contest on my website. It's not too late to vote.  I've extended the deadline until the day I return.


Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • Immigrant Photos | men | unusual clothing
    Monday, February 20, 2012 2:03:04 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [32]
    Thursday, February 23, 2012 9:17:37 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    I think the top photo is the American and the bottom the Englishman because the cut of the clothing seems a little more tailored in the bottom picture.
    Susan Graben
    Thursday, February 23, 2012 9:19:05 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    I agree with Susan. I think photo 2 is the Englishman. He is a little more of a macaroni!
    Betty Arndt
    Thursday, February 23, 2012 9:23:52 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    Picture 1 is American and picture 2 is British.
    Janet T Smith
    Thursday, February 23, 2012 9:25:58 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    I agree that the Englishman is photo 2. The beard style, the background and the slouch (sp?) hat all seem more American.
    Jane Lahey
    Thursday, February 23, 2012 9:30:38 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    Looking at furniture as well as clothing, I also vote for the first as American and the second as the Englishman. I also think the slight cock on the hat makes it more likley the first is American.
    WhiteWater Lady
    Thursday, February 23, 2012 9:32:14 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    I'm guessing Picture 1 is the American and Picture 2 the Brit. Picture 2's well groomed whiskers (Dundreary whiskers?), well cut and pressed suit (tweed?), polished footwear, and walking stick are what swayed me.
    Lois Mackin
    Thursday, February 23, 2012 9:47:13 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    I agree with the others. Photo 1 is American, photo 2 is British.
    Kim E Dolce
    Thursday, February 23, 2012 9:51:48 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    I was going to say at first glance that Photo One was the English man simply because I have never seen a photo of an American man wearing a jacket such as that one. But then again, I've never seen a photo of an English man wearing one either! So, based on my own impression of how the English man dressed, I will guess the American is photo one and the English man photo two.
    Peggy Shafer
    Thursday, February 23, 2012 10:14:18 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    I also feel the gentleman in photo 1 is American, and the gentleman in photo 2 is from England. The cane/walking stick makes me think English. The prop background in photo 1 looks American to me, well somewhat; I have a lot of Fr.Canadian photo's with the same look.

    Janice Joblinski
    Janice Joblinski
    Thursday, February 23, 2012 10:46:58 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    I think #1 is the Brit. The man in #2 looks like an American wanting to be a fashion-ist and show that he is rich and important.
    Valice Raffi
    Thursday, February 23, 2012 11:44:56 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    I vote for the American on top and the Briton on the bottom. The clothing, set pieces, and pose all remind me of photos of ancestors and others I've seen before. The lower photo seems more formal and the cane and the angle at which it's held seem British to me.
    Deb
    Friday, February 24, 2012 12:35:21 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    One of my husband's ancestors (British) had a muttonchop beard like the man in Picture 2; also the doublebreasted suitcoat seems more British than American. And what is the function of his manpurse? Picture 1 reminds me of the dress and manner (and hat) of John Wilkes Booth, unconstructed clothing (although his overcoat seems awfully lengthy) and crudely made shoes. Two different eras, two different social levels. 1=American, 2=British.
    ellen
    Friday, February 24, 2012 2:11:41 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    #1 is English and #2 is American. At that time I think that the Americans were very stiff in their pictures.
    Arlene Engle
    Friday, February 24, 2012 4:10:52 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    I'll keep a simple reply
    Photo 1 - American - The set, coat and facial hair
    Photo 2 - British - The set, coat and facial hair
    R Bavouzet
    Friday, February 24, 2012 4:30:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    The top photo is American, the bottom one British. A Brit who owns an ensemble presented in either photo would never wear or be pictured in the unpressed, poorly put-together, sloppy, ungroomed look evident in the top photo. The Brits of the pictured socio-economic strata who would own this kind of clothing also had maids and butlers to keep their person and their clothing neat, trim, and dapper.
    Della Steineckert
    Friday, February 24, 2012 5:12:01 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    I'll agree that the 1st pic is America by instinct. Hey it's a 50/50
    Tim Hartnett
    Friday, February 24, 2012 7:31:44 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    No. 1 reminds me of Charlie Chaplin in "The Little Tramp." The elongated jacket and disheveled appearance with the small hat were the factors that swayed me to vote American. I had read that photographers carried clothing for customers to change into to have their pictures taken; but, this is the first example of clothing in this condition I have seen. Perhaps it was a tongue-in-cheek photo just for fun. The No. 2 photo appears to me as British, especially with the walking stick, and the natty attire tailored for the gentleman. Decision: No. 1 American and No. 2 British.
    A
    Friday, February 24, 2012 7:35:18 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    No. 1 reminds me of Charlie Chaplin in The Little Tramp. The elongated jacket and disheveled appearance with the small hat were the factors that swayed me to vote American. I had read that photographers carried clothing for customers to change into to have their pictures taken; but, this is the first example of clothing in this condition I have seen. Perhaps it was a tongue-in-cheek photo just for fun. The No. 2 photo appears to me as British, especially with the walking stick, and the natty attire tailored for the gentleman. My decision is No. 1 American and No. 2 British.
    A
    Friday, February 24, 2012 7:43:14 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    No. 1 reminds me of Charlie Chaplin in "The Little Tramp." The elongated jacket and disheveled appearance with the small hat were the factors that swayed me to vote American. I had read that photographers carried clothing for customers to change into to have their pictures taken; but, this is the first example of clothing in this condition I have seen. Perhaps it was a tongue-in-cheek photo just for fun. The No. 2 photo appears to me as British, especially with the walking stick, and the natty attire tailored for the gentleman. Decision: No. 1 American and No. 2 British.
    Arlene
    Friday, February 24, 2012 1:11:17 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    I believe the top photo is American and the bottom is British.
    Brenda
    Friday, February 24, 2012 2:33:25 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    I think #1's long coat and bow tie are indications of his working attire (possibly a shopkeeper?) and not sloppiness - I think he's the Englishman.

    #2 could be either, but I think those side-whiskers and beard were more popular in the U.S. The purse is probably a courier's pouch.

    I'm going to say #1-English, #2-American.
    Frances
    Friday, February 24, 2012 8:16:35 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    I believe that photo #2 is the Englishman
    Patricia Stoudt
    Friday, February 24, 2012 9:31:27 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    The American is the 1st photo, the Englishman is the 2nd photo.
    Cindy Blevins
    Friday, February 24, 2012 9:39:01 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    Photo one is British and photo two is American.
    Peggy Hempelmann
    Saturday, February 25, 2012 12:10:14 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    #1 is American
    #2 is British--look at that cane! How dapper! look at the wood molding!
    Jeanette Heath
    Jeanette Heath
    Saturday, February 25, 2012 12:32:17 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    Photo #1 is American. #2 is British.
    Paula
    Saturday, February 25, 2012 3:03:55 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    Photo 2 appears more British to me.
    Dereva Gregoyr
    Sunday, February 26, 2012 2:57:14 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    Photo #1 is American and Photo #2 English. The clothes, furniture/set and whiskers were the clues that make me believe in my answer.
    Brenda Devall
    Sunday, March 04, 2012 9:26:30 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    American is #1
    Brit is 2.
    the setting for #1 is typical of photos taken in the Civil War period in a studio setting. The Brit looks like more of a stately home with furniture etc.Also the walking stick is something a Brit might carry than American..

    Sandy
    Sandra
    Monday, March 05, 2012 6:12:09 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
    I think that #1 is the British man. Not everyone was wealthy and perfectly tailored. I think that #2 is the American, a city fellow with well tailored clothes. If it were not that way, why would you have given us these two photos to compare.
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    Comments are closed.