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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Dolled Up: 1939

Dolled Up: 1939

1939. Ladies who lunch in Washington, D.C., with the toy department as a backdrop. View full size. 35mm nitrate negative by David Myers.

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I know what they're talking about...

Surely at least at one point in their conversation, they talked about the shoe sale that was going on nearby!


Just curious - is this a detail of a larger picture? It looks grainier than usual. Or perhaps the photographer was trying to catch his subjects unawares, and didn't take the time to set up the picture.

[This is the full frame. Early 35mm film, no flash, indoors: Grainy. - Dave]

Don't judge books by their cover

They'd probably be surprised to find out that people almost 70 years in the future would be judging them (and most likely incorrectly) based on the clothing they wore to lunch one day.

Both women are dressed quite stylishly for the time, but the woman on the left is dressed in office wear. Women office workers of the time were supposed to dress conservatively, and the high-necked blouse, brooch, and conservative flat-rimmed hat are all typical for the time. The woman on the right, on the other hand, probably doesn't work in an office or anywhere else for that matter, given that a) she's married (remember that at this time many women were handed their pink slips the day before their wedding) and b) her clothes would not be acceptable in any business of the time.

Many of our ideas about vintage-era clothing come from more modern television and movie adaptations, such as The Waltons, that show dowdy spinsters in more conservative and out-of-date clothing. But we shouldn't jump to the assumptions these costume designers made: most women would have had both styles in their closets and would have worn the appropriate outfit for the occasion.

Different strokes....

Hmmm...the one you think looks matronly or mother or aunt seems more "maiden lady" like (ie: spinster), so I don't think that really makes matronly.

Looks more like a button-up type living vicariously through a free-spirited type. Perhaps sisters or cousins?

I really don't see as much of an age difference as lifestyle difference.

Perhaps a nice women's aid woman hearing the sordid tales of a more worldly gal?

Maybe mother and daughter

Maybe mother and daughter, or aunt and niece? There's a certain similarity in coloring and nose-shape, not seemingly much in common else...

Odd Couple

One looks so matronly; the other looks so, um, not matronly. More like Jane Fonda in a peekaboo top.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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