It is hardly a surprise that the new film version of The Great Gatsby includes almost no older women, unless you count a brief scene with Daisy’s mother. After all, this is a book and a film about young people in the 1920s. Although a few older men have parts as movers and shakers, the lives and styles of older women are not up for consideration.
Given my preoccupations, the film made me consider how hard it is to find photographs of the older set in evening dress from that decade. Then I remembered Elsie de Wolfe, the much photographed actress, decorator, and socialite who loved designer clothes. In a relationship with a woman for decades, she suddenly decided to marry an English lord in in 1926, when she was well into her fifties, thus transforming herself from Miss de Wolfe into Lady Mendl.
Take a look at her simple beaded gown, with unusual beaded straps at her wrist. Apparently her pearls were famous. And in her second outfit, when she was already Lady Mendl, she shows off her love of fur. Are those perhaps fur trimmed pants? I think she would have made a stir at one of Jay Gatsby’s parties.