Dancing at the Senior Center, 1980

When did older women decide to give up dresses and turn to pants as their basic mode of dress?  The answer surely depends in part on location.  The City of Commerce, where this photo was taken, is in Southern California near Los Angeles.  I expect more casual clothing here.  Does that explain why only one woman out of five wears a dress in this picture? 

In general, many older women began to adopt pants for events outside the home in the 1970s, while keeping dresses for special occasions. The woman on the right, in her blue and white shirtwaist, didn’t follow this trend. Or perhaps she considered a dance at the senior center something special. Note that her shoes are also fancier that those of her compatriots.

Even among the pants wearers there are different levels of formality.  The woman in the green pantsuit is the most dressed up.  I choose the one in the front, with a short sleeved orange blouse, as the most casual.

Would anyone be wearing a dress at such an event today?

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