Mother’s Day in Milwaukee, 1963


Wisconsin Historical Society

I love geometrics—give me a stripe over a flower any day. Mother’s Day is a flowery holiday, and the grandmother’s and granddaughter’s head gear give nod in this direction. However, the clothes in this three generation composition have the sleek look of the best of sixties fashion. This photo comes from the Wisconsin Historical Society’s website and was originally published In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel with the caption “A grandmother with daughter and granddaughter. They are nicely dressed for mother’s day.” The poses were obviously staged. Were they the winner in a “Best Mother’s Day Outfits” contest, brought into the studio for a prize shot? Or were they a fantasy family, with outfits assembled by a fashion editor?

Whatever the answer, there are many elements worth our attention here. At least in Milwaukee, the ideal outfit for a special day in 1963 included hats and gloves. The grandmother’s headgear is something I associate with earlier decades, including the flowers and the veil, but her clothes are right up to date. Essentially mother and daughter are wearing the same thing, a cardigan style jacket with contrast trim–differing only in their collar treatments. I particularly like the grandmother’s style, with three quarter length sleeves, a shawl collar, and an interesting textured knit fabric.  If it came in my size, I would wear it today.

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