You can really see the family resemblance in this photo of Ann Firty and her three daughters—Bell, Gertrude and Wynn. All the relevant family information is penciled on the back of this snapshot, as well as the location of Quincy, Massachusetts.
If I had to make guesses about the daughters’ personalities based on their clothes, I would say that Bell is restrained and organized, Gertrude quite a flirt, and Wynn a tomboy. Given her bushy hair (so like my own) and tailored jacket, Wynn is definitely my favorite.
But we are here about the Mother, Ann. She is an excellent example of what fashion historian Joan Severa calls “the fashion lag,” the fact that older women often don’t keep up with current styles. (There are apparently many terms for this concept. Witness to Fashion calls it “the persistence of fashion.”) Her hair looks like she has pulled it to the back, not cut it short like her daughters. Her dark dress with its dropped waist is probably from the 1920s, but the length shows it to be from the very beginning of the decade. Her daughters are up to date, but she is not. Why didn’t she just hem her dress? Perhaps she decided that the shorter length was just too daring, or maybe she had no faith that styles would stay short for long.
What I love most about Ann’s outfit are her strappy shoes, so much more interesting than her daughters’ choices. In his book The Seductive Shoe, fashion historian Jonathan Walford writes that woven and plaited leather shoes with straps became popular in the 1920s. Ann’s look almost like hauraches. Find me those shoes and I would wear them today.