Dating photos from clothing

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What people are wearing in historical photographs can offer many clues as to the earliest possible date of a portrait, group photograph, or street scene with figures.

Dress details may provide additional information, such as the social status of the wearer, their occupation, and sometimes their location or region.

The photos can easily be printed onto transparency paper (any office supply store or copy shop can do this) so we can all see them projected on the screen.

Many people have unidentified photos in their collection.Keep in mind that the descriptions are generalities and you could end up coming across exceptions to these clothing clues during your research. Waistcoats during this decade came without collars. Very slim cravats with tiny bow ties were also popular. Lounge suits offered slim silhouettes and jackets were worn partially undone, showing off a more relaxed style and revealing high-buttoned waistcoats and watch chains. Norfolk jackets were introduced during this time period and sack coats were still worn over evening attire. Norfolk jackets (look for box pleats over the chest and matching fabric belts). In the Victorian era, men’s daily dress was more formal than it is today. Men also wore their collars highly-starched with neckties and elaborate cravats during the earlier part of the century, and by the late 1860s, string-style cravats that were more narrow emerged. What to look for: Lighter-colored trousers and black coats. Lounge suits continued to trend well into the 1890s with trousers sporting creases down the front. Cuffed trousers were also fashionable during the early 1900s. Changes in men's fashions have generally been more subtle, and less sensational than women's, and photographs of even the most well-to-do gentlemen are therefore far more difficult to date accurately by dress alone.In contrast, by the end of the 19th century women's fashions tended to bring in a new detail each season, so the most fashionable ladies' photographs can often be dated to within a year.If you’re hitting a brick wall when it comes to identifying family members in old photos from the Victorian era, you’re not alone.

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