Sunday, 3 January 2016

In a lifetime

Well, less than half a lifetime actually.

I've posted before about my maternal grandmother, Granny T. Because my great-grandfather was for a time a professional photographer, we have quite a lot of family photos, and looking through an album of some of them, it struck me just how much fashions changed in the first 33 years of Granny T's life.

She was born in 1900, and this photograph with her mother is the earliest one I have of her.

Her sister F was born a couple of years later. Unfortunately my great-grandfather wasn't consistent about putting dates in the album, so I have no idea when this was taken.

This one of my great-grandmother and her daughters isn't dated either, but is clearly of the Edwardian era.

There are lots of photographs of family outings, quite a few to places I recognize. This one was taken in Llandudno, on the north Wales coast. Granny T is second from the left. Her expression suggests that my attitude to having my photograph taken may be a family trait!

Most of the images in this post I have cropped, to concentrate on the clothes. I've left this one, also taken in Llandudno, because of the bathing machines and the horse on the right. Plus, there's something about the composition that I really like.

Some years after my great-grandmother's death, my great-grandfather remarried. This photograph with his second wife was taken in 1920.

And this family group was taken a year later. Clearly my step-great-grandmother was fond of shiny fabrics! Granny T is second from the right.

This photograph, also from 1921, shows the sisters outside their stepmother's shop. Although these are clearly their 'work' clothes, they look far less old-fashioned than what I assume are their 'best' dresses above.

By 1925 things had definitely changed. The look is far more archetypal 1920s, and hemlines are shorter, even on my step-great-grandmother's dress.

Pausing only to admire my great-grandfather's ability to Photoshop out legs well before the invention of Photoshop (seriously, look at the above two images), we move on another two years. My step-great-grandmother (on the right) and a friend are sporting even shorter hems, while apparently posing in front of Blackpool Tower in fog.

It's 1932, and my mum makes an appearance, having clearly inherited her mother's delight in being photographed. Granny T is seated in the middle of the group. There's not a huge change in the fashions, but I do want Granny T's fabulous hat.

From the same year, Granny T, her sister and my mum, relaxing in my great-grandfather's garden.

A year later, Great-Aunt F in a very 1930s dress.

So there it is. A transformation from fashions so clearly of another era to clothes which I could easily wear now, all in 33 years. Fashion is always changing, but I can't think of any 33-year period in my own life where the changes have been so extreme.


  1. Fashions definitely changed quickly in that time frame. What a great idea to study the timeline of fashion through family photos. I have a few, but my mom has the rest and lives far away. I always loved going through them as a little girl and enjoying the fashions. I'd love to go through them again and study the fashion timeline.

    1. Among other photographs in the album I found inspiration for at least one, and possibly two, Historical Sew Monthly challenges - so watch this space!