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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Sepia Saturday - Skirts on Show

Each week, Sepia Saturday, provides an opportunity for genealogy bloggers to share their family history through photographs.   

Only one vintage biking photograph amongst my family collections - a wartime picture of my husband's great aunt - Violet King, nee Hibbert.    She lived in Kent, near Manston Aerodrome, at the heart of RAF activity.

I might not have cycling images but I have plenty of skirts to  show.   
 A close look will reveal why Dorothy Chisholm is up a ladder, showing off her long skirt   - she is pruning the plant on the wall. Dorothy was engaged to my great uncle John Danson of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, who was a widower with a young daughter.  Sadly in 1917 John died  at Tidworth whilst in army training.    The Danson family remained in contact with Dorothy throughout her life  and I have vague memories of visiting her with my mother, when she was living in a bedsit - one of the many women whose lives were changed by the First World War. 

A younger picture of Violet Hibbert   with her fiance Frank King.  Violet is wearing a distinctive skirt with a broad ruched hem and arrow insets.  She  and Frank married in South Shields, County Durham  in 1915.  Could this be an engagement photograph?  

Violet again, in a typical 1920's look of  cloche hat, long bodice, straight skirt  and long beads.

"Bobbing, Shingling, Marcel Waving and Perming", was the promise of hairdresser "Elise" whose business in Blackpool, Lancashire was advertised in this lovely evocative 1920's "blotter".  I love the elegant green dress with its  draped skirt.    

Elise's real name was Elsie Oldham, my mother's second cousin, but perhaps the French adaptation was regarded as more appropriate for a hairdresser.  The business was conducted from the rather less glamorous setting of her home,  with large adverts in the windows and on the pole outside.      

Onto the 1930's 

 In their stylish midi skirts  are my mother Kathleen Danson (left) with her sister Edith.  My mother was apprenticed as a tailoress at the age of 14 and both sisters made their own clothes on a treadle machine at home, which did not have electricity until the late 1950's.  

Forty  years on to 1971 and here am I sporting a mini skirt.   This was the era when girls were frantically shortening skirts in their wardrobe to appear in fashion. 
 This was my husband's first car - a silver grey Ford Escort, bought just a few weeks before we met in 1970. He was always proud of his cars and looked after them well.   This brings back memories of our engagement. It must have been love, that he actually suggested I sat on top of the car for this photograph - not something he has allowed since! - at least he gave me a rug to sit on.  Note the miniskirt  and the so typical 1970's striped  coat! 

I am standing at the  stone marking the border of Scotland and England, and the entrance to Northumberland National Park.

And finally to return to the cycling prompt - how styles have changed, a hat of sorts, but with no skirts on show here,  with my little granddaughter enjoying a  ride on her first bike. 

Make you way  HERE to see contributions from fellow bloggers.

Copyright © 2015 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved 


  1. Very nice trip through skirts, from long to mini. Your granddaughter looks like she is either worried or really concentrating.

  2. Lovely elegant photos of those ladies, even the one up the ladder.

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  4. I like the way you followed along with Violet for a bit there. "Elise" aka "Elsie" reminds me of my mother's cousin whose name was "Louise" but she insisted on it being pronounced 'Lo-wise'. Cute shot of you on hubby's car. Was it his idea to protect his car by laying down a plaid before you sat on it? :)) Funny thing about skirts - whereas in the past certain lengths were fashionable at certain times & places, today women wear whatever length they want - from mini to long whether casually in the grocery store, or at a fancy-dress event. Good luck with the A-Z challenge!

  5. You wouldn't go cycling in many of those skirts! What a nice memento to have of Elsie's hairdressing career - very unusual, and just the sort of thing that I treasure in my family collection. Thanks for sharing these interesting photos, Sue.

    I would have thought that the American Studios portrait was a bit earlier than 1915, judging by the card mount style - say 1905 to 1910ish - but perhaps this particular photographer had lots of old card stock to get rid of.

  6. I just love Violet's skirt in the second photo. And cousin Elise -- she always piques my imagination. She seems to have been so stylish.

  7. Love Violet's long beads -- I have a set that belonged to my great aunt Margaret -- just love them!

  8. Great trip through time and skirt fashion, as well as hair styles of course. It's so nice to have family photos of so many eras. Treadle machines for tailoring, eh? Good for them!

  9. Lots of fashion cycles here. Dorothy's story was very sad. To lose someone due to a non-combat accident in WW1 must have been a harsh memory. Brett's comment led me to look up the American Studio photographer. This website offers a date of 1908-1919, and says they had several branches.

  10. Violet must have been very young when she married as she has worn extremely by the time the Wartime photo was taken. An enjoyable post provoking some interesting comments in true Sepia Saturday style!

  11. I have to say I'm still a lover of long skirts, and the ones you've shown are beautiful. I especially like Violet's skirt in the third photo with all its detail. And, of course, your mother and aunt look very glamorous.

  12. Thank you to everybody for their kind comments.

  13. A lot of fun shots from the past to the present. I have to go look up that ford escort on the net. I don't remember seeing that style, but maybe it was never sold in the states. Enjoyed the post.


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