Dating old photos hairstyles

07 Feb

By 1869/70 the material behind was being draped up over a projecting bustle – a pad worn under the clothes behind the waist – and garments were often layered and flounced to accentuate the full, bouncy effect (fig.6).

The distinctive bustle silhouette prevailed until around 1875, when it began to become outmoded.

Of course, there were exceptions to this general principle.

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.

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).

In around 1880, the train was abandoned for day wear and outfits of the early 1880s were narrow and sheath-like: long, tight-fitting bodices formed an unbroken line over the hips, while shoe-length skirts were wrapped closely around the legs (fig.8).

Women's dress 1840s-1890s Between the 1840s and late 1860s, essentially the fashionable female silhouette comprised a fitted bodice attached to a bell-shaped skirt, which became even wider in circumference after the introduction of the domed crinoline frame in 1856 (fig.3).

Throughout the later 1860s, the front of the skirt became progressively flatter, with the emphasis growing increasingly on the back.

For more detailed advice and to see further dated images for comparison, it is worth checking back over some of the photographs used to illustrate previous blogs in this series and also consulting some of the books listed in further reading.

Ideally we should consider all these criteria when considering the clothing of family members as seen in old photographs.

For dating purposes, however, we can broadly assume that (unless they are wearing an occupational uniform or other specialised forms of dress) their 'Sunday best' garments largely followed, to a recognisable extent, the prevailing style of the era.

This is a good question but photographic evidence suggests that in many cases even humbler working ancestors followed the latest styles.

By the time photography reached a mass market in the 1860s, the concept of fashion was already well-established and was widely understood across the social spectrum.