Feature from the Collections: Summer Fashions

Special Collections staff recently stumbled upon this gorgeous photograph of a lady relaxing in a hammock during a late 1890s summer and wanted to share. Knowing how warm our Ontario summers can be, we can’t help but feel thankful for our own more comfortable options for summer attire.

This unidentified amateur snapshot showing a woman relaxing outdoors illustrates how helpful it can be to have changes in clothing trends to consider when attributing a date to an image. In this case, the large puffed sleeves are a clue to the date of this photograph. According to the historical fashion online resources provided by the Vintage Fashion Guild:

“[In 1890-1900] with the decline of the bustle, sleeves began to grow and the 1830s hourglass revival was well underway. Sleeves ballooned to proportions never seen before or indeed since – reaching their height in 1895-96.”

The size and shape of the photograph itself can also help narrow down a time period for an image. In this case the somewhat rectangular shape of the print rules out the very early circular images produced by the No. 1 Kodaks, and the popular Brownie models produced in the 1890s tended to make square pictures that were a bit smaller. Our best guess is that the 10.3 x 12.9 cm picture might have been produced by the No. 4 Bullet Special Camera, produced between 1898-1900 and thereby giving us our “circa 1898” attribution.

Woman Reclining in Hammock, ca. 1895

References:

Dressedforthephotographer : ordinary Americans and fashion, 1840-1900 / Joan L. Severa. Kent, Ohio : Kent State University Press, c1995.
http://catalogue.library.ryerson.ca/record=b1235603~S0

Vintage Fashion Guild. (n.d.) Fashion Timeline:1890-1900. Vintage Fashion Guild Resources. Retrieved July 22, 2011 from http://vintagefashionguild.org/fashion-timeline/1890-to-1900/

No. 4 Bullet Special Kodak Camera at Historic Camera’s History Librarium. Retrieved July 22, 2011 from http://www.historiccamera.com/cgi-bin/librarium/pm.cgi?action=display&login=no4bulletspecial

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