A Woman in a Kerchief, 1982

kerchief82This photo will certainly win no prizes for artistry, since one woman’s head is cut off. It’s not even clear what the intended subject is—the cakes? the kitchen set? the jello? Nonetheless, I snatched it up from a favorite ebay dealer because of the woman on the left. This is the most recent sighting I have of an older woman in a kerchief.

kerchief06I associate kerchiefs with immigrant women in the early twentieth century, especially those coming from Eastern Europe. Their headgear set them apart from their daughters, who were eager to adopt mainstream styles.

LCDelanoWomen who headed into industry during the Second World War also used kerchiefs to keep their hair out of the way while they operated machinery, as can be seen in the Jack Delano photo here. Then it was usually wrapped behind the head and tied on top, so there are no dangling strings at the neck.

Perhaps in my 1982 photo the woman had come in after working outside, not bothering to take off her kerchief before enjoying a bowl of jello. Her middle aged companion, maybe her daughter, looks quite at home in jeans.

kerchief2In this companion shot, we can document the history of the American kitchen. Note the avocado green oven matched by an avocado refrigerator, a color choice that peaked in the seventies. By the time these photos were taken, they were already going out of style.

This entry was posted in 1900s, 1940s, 1980s and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Woman in a Kerchief, 1982

  1. eimear says:

    I would associate that with a mid east european look as well – head squares / head scarf would have been still worn a lot in the 80s in ireland, both from a practical point of view, rain, (sometimes concealing rollers and set hair), and from earlier times when women would have their heads covered in mass. of course if you could pull of the look that versace used in a collection from the late 90s with head square like the models, then thats a different story (instead of looking like someone waiting permanently for a bus)

  2. Trish S says:

    Women in Britain wore a lot of headscarves, certainly in the 40s and 50s. This was not usually for religious purposes, just practical. Britain is a windy and wet place. Headscarves or kerchiefs kept hair in place and prevented your perm or set hair from being messed up (usually women went to the hairdresser once a week to get their hair set or did it at home).

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