Older women are often associated with small scale prints, the navy dress sprigged with small flowers, for example. When Sears offered clothes “for the gracious [aka old] lady,” that is the kind of pattern they supplied. While the dresses must have sold well, not all older women were drawn to that such dainty designs, as we can see from these two photos. I’m guessing that they come from the 1930s, with the one on the right taken later in the decade. The dress styles seem almost identical, a belted shirtwaist dress with a pocket at the top. The prints are similar too, abstract geometric inspired patterns in white against a darker background.
Recently Eden Miller, a fashion designer who focuses exclusively on larger women, made big news with a runway show at New York Fashion week. All of her dresses featured large scale prints. Quoted in the blog Fashionista, she says: “I think if you’re a bigger body, the print should be scaled up; it’s too twee to have a tiny pattern on a bigger girl.” Maybe these women felt the same way.