Photos of Summer Dresses, circa 1919

Graduation photo, 8th grade class, May 1919.

Graduation photo, 8th grade class, May 1919.

I can date this photo, because my mother is second from the right in the back row. Her family took another photo of her holding her diploma, and wrote on the back, “May 1919.”

Eighth grade graduation day, 1919. I "pushed" the photo to clarify the ruffles on her dress. which arn't visible in the official photographs.

Eighth grade graduation day, 1919. I “pushed” the photo to clarify the ruffles on her dress, which aren’t all visible in the overexposed  photograph.

14 year old girl, graduation dress, 1919.

14 year old girl in her graduation dress, 1919. She has a ruffled “Bertha” collar, and the fabric is very sheer, probably netting. I’ll discuss the hairdo in a later post.

All these dresses are so lovely that I wanted to share them. I even know some of the students’ names.

Front row, left. is Frances Ryan. 1919.

Front row, left, is Frances Ryan. 1919.

I don’t know the girl who is second in the row, but the sheer fabric of her dress, with an opaque pattern woven in, is my favorite. [I once had an extravagantly expensive Swiss cotton nightgown from similar fabric.] Note how many of these girls have big bows in their hair — they are still children.

From Left, Angelina Piana, Alice Perry, and Frances Flynn. Seated is Albert Genoce. 1919.

From Left, Angelina Piano, Alice Perry, and Frances Flynn. Seated is Albert Genoce. 1919.

Almost every dress is trimmed with horizontal tucks, which create the effect of opaque stripes across the sheer cotton fabrics. Notice their crossed ankles. This was how a lady sat. I believe these girls were graduating from a Catholic school run by nuns, so lady-like posture was enforced.

Alice Perry, Francies Flynn, and Eleanore Larrouy. 8th grade graduation, 1919.

Alice Perry, Frances Flynn, and Eleanore Larrouy. 8th grade graduation, 1919.

Most of the dresses have a rounded, scooped neckline, but Frances, like some of the girls in the top row, has a high, square-ish, lace-trimmed neckline.

Top row, left, is Eleanor Hahir. 1919.

Top row, left, is Eleanor Hahir, next girl unknown. 1919. Bottom row: Frances Ryan, unknown, Angelina Piano.

Left, my mother; the girl on the right is unknown (and slightly out of focus, too. In Front row are Frances Flynn and "Elinore" Larrouy. 1919,

Left, my mother; the girl on the right is unnamed (and slightly out of focus, too.) In front row are Frances Flynn and “Elinore” Larrouy. 1919.

I was delighted to find that someone had written the names of several of these students on the back of the picture, because my parents remained in the same town, and I knew many of their friends, including some of the girls in this picture. Sadly, I have no idea who the lovely young woman at the center of the back row is.

Unknown girl in 8th grade graduation photo, 1919.

Center, an unknown girl in 8th grade graduation photo, 1919. Left, “Angie” Piano; right, Alice Perry.

The girl in the center looks older than the others, or perhaps just more poised, in her beautifully embroidered dress and string of pearls.

Angie Piano remained a friend to my father and me in the years after my mother’s death, as did Frances Flynn, who wore tailored, non-fussy clothing, often dressed in slacks, was great fun to be with, and took us huckleberry picking at her family cabin in the Coastal hills. (Stepping into a packrat’s nest was always a bit of a shock, but the contents were fascinating!) The cabin was a bit of a time machine in the 1950’s, with a sleeping porch, an ice box, and a water tank that collected cold spring water;  we depended on oil lamps when we couldn’t get the electricity generator started.

Angela , or Angelina, Piano, called "Angie." Note her hairstyle, which is long in back, but has chic puffs over her ears. about 1919.

Angela (or Angelina) Piano, called “Angie.” Note her hairstyle, which is long in back, but has chic puffs of shorter hair over her ears. About 1919-20.

Angelina Piano in a velvet dress and long "crystal" necklace. On the back of the picture is her address in San Francisco and her age, 15. Dated "April 4, 1920."

Angelina Piano in a velvet dress and long “crystal” necklace. On the back of the picture is her address in San Francisco and her age, 15. Dated “April 4, 1920.”

Elegant “Angie” Piano was still chic and charming in her fifties — in fact, I hoped my widowed father would marry her.  She did take me to the ballet in the 1950’s, when I was about ten years old, and she fixed us a memorable dinner of crab and spaghetti! Between Angie and Frances I had two good but very different role models.

Edith Nicholls, Ruth Cross, my Aunt Dorothy, and my mother, dated 1918.

Edith Nicholls, Ruth Cross, my Aunt Dorothy, and my mother, dated 1918.

I like two things about about this photo. The first is that it shows a range of clothing — Edith is wearing taffeta and wonderful high boots, Aunt Dorothy is in her school uniform, and my mother is wearing a casual sleeveless pullover sweater. The second thing I like is that it shows how far from high society these girls were. They are standing on a dirt path in somebody’s back yard. Behind them is a fruit tree in a small vegetable patch, and on the left, a clothesline.

I’m not sure of the name on this picture — but I do like her dress ( with another Bertha-type collar) and her face. I wish I’d known her, too.

Another "Redwood City girl" circa 1918.

Another “Redwood City girl” circa 1918.

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4 Comments

Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Dresses, Hairstyles, Shoes, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, vintage photographs, World War I

4 responses to “Photos of Summer Dresses, circa 1919

  1. Wonderful post and photos! Regarding the giant hair bows, I remember seeing a 1922 Harold Lloyd feature (“Grandma’s Boy”) wherein his leading lady, Mildred Davis, wears one. It seemed odd, since her character is clearly not a child, and I’ve wondered since then whether it was any kind of real reflection of rural style at that time, or just the Hollywood idea of what “country” girls would wear.

  2. Beth Pfaff

    I always wondered about those giant hair bows. You would think they would weigh the hair down and would be uncomfortable to wear, especially on younger girls.

    • My bows were not that big, but my mother and I fought about them every morning — that, and the curls I was forced to wear. I think she thought a little girl should look like Mary Pickford. Maybe they were proof that your family could afford luxuries like ribbon!

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