Spring in Central Park, April 1960

Photo by Leonard McCombe, Life, April 18, 1960

If you can look past the two doormen at the center of this picture, it offers an interesting overview of different clothing styles adapted by a set of older women in New York at the dawn of the 1960s. Starting from the left, we have a very old woman wearing a dress that she has probably had for decades. Sensible shoes and a broach center front complete the old lady look. Next to her, however, is someone who cares a lot about looking current. Her coat is bold, with a geometric print, and her shoes are dressy. Did she perhaps work at a business close by? The bright red trim of her coat competes with the doormen’s attire.

Then on the right we have a group of fairly conservatively dressed older women. Although their skirts are shorter and their shoes more stylish, they nonetheless adopted the common color palette recommended to the older set, with shades of blue and gray. Only one has cheered up her outfit with a red scarf. Clearly they are friends, perhaps taking a stroll after lunch. Do you think they are whispering about the woman in the checked coat?

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