I like picking up old photographs when I find them at antique stores and op shops.
Partly I do it because old photographs are fantastic clothing research resources, and partly I do it because it seems so sad that there was a time when people knew them, and knew who they were, and valued and treasured their photographs, and now that link is broken.
I’ll never know who most of the people I find in images were, but I can at least carry on a little tidbit of their story.
This woman is one of my favourite recent finds:
I say woman, because while she’s clearly quite young, and her elaborate hair-bows are very girlish, she appears to be proudly displaying a rather large and gorgeous engagement ring on her left hand.
Her outfit is absolutely typical of 1913: skirts had been getting slimmer and higher since 1910, and the cut-on Magyar sleeves were very stylish beginning in 1913. In a formal studio setting, taking a photograph to commemorate her engagement, she was probably wearing up to date clothing, so I feel comfortable definitively dating the photograph to 1913 or 1914.
It is possible that her hair bow and earrings indicate a regional style, but there is nothing that is definitely out of place for a typical 1913 look. Her outfit has some beautiful details: the heavy rope belt hanging from her waist, the slight sheen of satin at her cuffs, and the geometric trim on her bodice.
You can see where the bodice fastens around the neck on the left, and then would open under the trim on the proper left front. If her outfit is a blouse and skirt, the opening would continue down the front of the blouse. If it’s a dress, it could continue down the front of the dress, and then the skirt might fasten under the rope detailing at front, or the front neck opening would only go partway down, and there would be a second closure in back, or at the side, to allow the fit at the waist.
It’s amazing the detail I can get out of the photograph, as the original is very small: only 6cm (2 3/8″) across and 11.5cm tall (4 1/2″).