Bessie, with very puffy sleeves

By: usermattw

Jul 12 2016

Tags: , ,

Category: Women


Click here to view it larger.

What it is:

Cabinet card measuring 4.25 x 6.5 inches.


What I know about it:

Photographer is Kemp of Scranton, Pennsylvania.  (I believe the full name is John H. Kemp.)  Written on the back in pencil is Bessie g. Craig.



Old photos show me what people used to wear, but sometimes they also seem to convey the mindset behind wearing it.  My modern eyes usually look amusedly at giant sleeves like this, thinking they resemble flotation devices.  But with this photo, I sense our young woman here is not so much wearing giant sleeves, as she is sitting surrounded by billowing waves of soft femininity, which I suspect was more the impression intended.

4 comments on “Bessie, with very puffy sleeves”

  1. Yes! The sleeves are funny today, but I agree with your assessment. Look at her curls, so carefully done (probably tied up with cloth overnight), and the lace (probably hand-made) around her throat. She looks like she is trying to stifle a huge grin.

    Great pic!

  2. You are so right about the clothing giving the impression of femininity! The clothing designers of years past found ways to convey the image of frailty through gigantic clothing – the bigger the dress, the smaller the woman appeared to be. This era also encompassed a great romanticism of softness. Women were expected to have a round face, soft hands, fluffy hair, pouffy sleeves, etc. All designed to capture the heart of a man who could protect and keep her safe. While today we balk at such notions, at the time, they were the accepted norms of male/female interaction! Great photo, I love it. Bessie might have been a little more practical under all that padding and pouf, too. 🙂

    • Thanks for confirming what I was thinking. It’s not just that the picture shows feminine clothing, it’s that is conveys (at least to me) a whole feminine feel.

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