A congregation of women’s fancy hats
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    Auction Finds

    Wearing your best dress for that fancy studio portrait

    Nice dress.

    That’s what I thought when I saw the first photo inside one of those lovely paper frames from decades ago in a box at the auction house. The woman wearing the dress stood regally, a hat atop her head that was as fancy as the outfit that she wore.

    I flipped past her photo and unfolded the frame on the next one.

    Another fancy dress.

    Then another and another.

    fancy dresses in portraits

    A fancy hat to complement her fancy dress.

    That was rather unusual. I go through old photos at auction all the time, and most times I don’t see such lovely clothing in succession. Most usually appear to be folks in their one fine outfit that they had worn for this special picture-taking.

    But these seemed different; these folks seemed at ease in their clothes and polished in their demeanor, as if they were used to being dolled up. A few of the photos bore identifying information, and I learned that some were from the same family or were taken by the same studios in Pennsylvania.

    Here are photos of the women in particular in their outfits. What do you think of them?

    fancy dresses in portraits

    This woman seems relaxed for her portrait.


    fancy dresses in portraits

    A very formal portrait of two couples.


    fancy dresses in portraits

    A dress with a long waist.


    fancy dresses in portraits

    A fur wrap and muff completed this outfit.


    fancy dresses in portraits

    This appears to be a young woman or girl in white.


    fancy dresses in portraits

    She apparently preferred black (or was she in mourning?).


    fancy dresses in portraits

    One of the few outfits with gloves.


    fancy dresses in portraits

    A pleated skirt and coat ensemble.


    fancy dresses in portraits

    Two women in white.

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