Blanche’s Retirement Party, 1971

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Time: 1971.  Place:  Data Products.  Event: A party for Blanche.  This much is clear from the notes on the backs of eight color photos I bought on ebay.  After looking at them for awhile, I think it is a good guess that they document a retirement party.  Blanche is the oldest person in all the photos.  In one she is shown shaking hands with someone who looks like the big boss and accepting a large envelope—perhaps a ticket for a Parisian vacation in gratitude for her hard work?

But lets move on to the clothes.  Data Products, wherever it was, had an older, mainly female, integrated work force. Blanche is by far the most conservatively dressed of all the women visible in the photos, with her beige jumper and white top. Her cat-eye glasses are no longer at the forefront of eye wear styles.  She doesn’t dye her hair.

Some of her coworkers have a bolder fashion sense. I am particularly drawn to the woman in the striped dress above, who looks to be in her fifties.  The contrast of horizontal stripes on the top and vertical on the bottom is interesting. The dress is short—just above her knees. Probably it is made of old style indestructible polyester, so it might still be available at a thrift store near you.

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The group photo is not a great shot, but you can see two older looking women in pants!  The one in the foreground wears white pants and a red sweater.  An African American woman in the back is wearing dark blue pants and a light colored tailored blouse.  This was clearly a place that had permissive dress code, if it had one at all.  Too bad that there was no formal group shot of everyone lined up so we could compare and contrast their clothes.

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3 Responses to Blanche’s Retirement Party, 1971

  1. That striped top and and skirt? I was 16 in 1971 and I would have worn it. It’s a great set, no matter what the age of the woman.

  2. eimear says:

    Blanche has a lovely smile…. and I do like that mix of stripes …. nice mix of casual clothes in that workplace

  3. I worked at a bank in San Francisco in the late Sixties. The dress code for women who did not have customer contact (like those who worked upstairs, “posting” car loans) was more causal — slacks, bare legs in sandals, etc. Downstairs, it was a dressier era in general (That striped outfit, with heels and stockings, would have been fine.) In 1970 trousers suits with matching tops were finally allowed for tellers and others who met the public. Male bankers might take off their suit jackets while the doors were locked, but once we opened for business (10 to 3 M-Th, 10 to 6 on Fridays) they wore suits. Once a loan executive arrived wearing black slacks and black turtleneck. He was on his way to repossess some cars in a rough neighborhood, and wanted to look like a normal car thief!

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