I have always thought there was something sad about flapper-style clothing on older women. The dresses were designed to fall in an unbroken line from the shoulders, but that only worked if there weren’t a lot of curves below. To my eye it looked like members of the older set, with no hopes of approximating the ideal figure for these dresses, were trying to dress like little girls. That was my initial response to this photo of members of the San Diego Christian Temperance Union, depicted above. Their white dresses, white stockings, and (in one case) Mary Jane shoes only made their juvenile appearance more pronounced.
However, my recent discovery of a photo of Catherine Smith has given me a different perspective on twenties clothing for the “mature” figure. The dresses didn’t hang the way they were “supposed to,” but so what? The lack of an indented waist was probably a relief for those whose waistlines had long departed with age, or might not have been there to begin with. I imagine that these flapper dresses were extremely comfortable, and that the women set them aside with sadness when the more waist conscious styles of the thirties emerged.