I love being able to follow a woman’s clothing choices from youth to age, sometimes possible when I stumble upon a family photo collection online. That was the case for Sylvia Dorothy Quinn, known to all as Dottie. Her husband, Alfred T. Quinn, was a well-known educator in Santa Monica, CA. Someone donated a collection of photos and documents tracing meaningful moments in his life to UCLA archives. Some 35 pictures of Dottie appeared among them. They clearly document a lifetime favoring pants. While many are headshots with unknown bottoms, only one photo shows her clearly in a dress.
Born in Los Angeles 1924, Dottie was an early adopter of pants. The picture on the left shows her in front of Venice High School. The snap shot might have been taken when she was still in school or soon after she married in 1943. At any rate, she was part of the move to pants during World War Two.
By 1960, many women were relaxing at home in pants—but certainly not all of them. The middle photo shows Dottie in her mid-1930s. She obviously favored pants for leisure wear.
The picture on the right, taken at a family wedding, is the best evidence I found of Dottie’s love of pants. While I wear pants to weddings, I am often the outlier and I wasn’t born in 1924. Dottie is bucking tradition here. One can see a glimpse of a gray haired woman behind her in a fluffy dress, a more common choice for the older set.
The most recent picture in the collection shows Dottie in 2005, just a year before she died. Although we can’t see it clearly in this photo, I would bet she is wearing a pair of pants. By the new millennium, most older women had caught up with this trendsetter.