For those of you who complain that people today all dress alike, I offer this World War Two era photo as proof that the past might not have been all that different. The men show some individuality—one in a jacket, another in shirt sleeves, and the young hero in his uniform. The three women, however, look remarkably similar.
When I first saw this photo, much smaller in real life, the women’s shirt waist dresses appeared almost identical. In this larger version we can see that the prints are different. Most likely the colors are slightly different as well. (For some reason, I imagine shades of blue.) There are other distinctions. One has a matching belt and another a white belt. The woman on the right looks to have no belt, with darts that take her dress in at the waist. She also has chosen black sensible shoes, in contrast to the sensible white shoes of her friends.
But these differences aside, one certainly gets the impression that the printed pastel shirtwaist dress served the same function as jeans and tee shirts today. Or do you think they coordinated their outfits for the photo?