This beautiful photo comes from the Richard Twine collection, available at the extraordinary site, Florida Memory. Twine was an African American photographer who documented the St. Augustine neighborhood of Lincolnville, the center of black life in the city in the early twentieth century. In just over 100 photos, Twine shows a prosperous community of elegant churches, tidy houses, and comfortable parlors. There are also numerous studio photos, mainly of stylishly dressed young men and women. This photo is an anomaly. Were these unnamed women perhaps relatives?
Archivists know that the photos were made in the 1920s, but you couldn’t guess it from the clothing here. The women’s dark outfits follow the styles of previous decades. At first glance their skirt and blouse combinations seem almost identical, but there are subtle differences. The woman on the left wears an A-line skirt, perhaps with pockets on the side. Her simple blouse buttons up the front and her shoes look well worn. The woman on the right appears to be more prosperous, or maybe just more dressed up for her photograph. Her skirt is gathered at the waist and her blouse has the sheen of silk or highly-polished cotton. Note the wide hems—those skirts were made to last.