Foreign vs. American Fashion

Foreign vs. American Fashion

My mind is focused on packing for Who Do You Think You Are? Live! in London. I'll be at this dynamic trade show for three days and I'll be presenting two lectures—one about online picture research and the other on writing your family memoir. Can't wait...

My mind is focused on packing for Who Do You Think You Are? Live! in London. I’ll be at this dynamic trade show for three days and I’ll be presenting two lectures—one about online picture research and the other on writing your family memoir. Can’t wait!!

While I’m in London looking at pictures I thought it would be a good time for a quiz. I’ve been to WDYTYA three years in a row looking at pictures. It’s been a learning experience. The number one question folks ask me when I’m there is “what’s the difference between American and English fashion?”

No, not all Americans dressed in Western style hats.

Photographic methods vary just a bit. Daguerreotypes weren’t as common in England as America, but early paper photographs were available from 1839 on. The American invention, the tintype, also wasn’t as popular in England.

Clothing is a little more difficult. The differences can be subtle or dramatic. Everyday dress is about the same, but occupational dress has several distinctions.

So…here are two pictures. Vote in the comment section below and tell me which is a British man and which is American. I’ll weigh in when I return.

Photo one
meninhat2.jpg

Photo two

maninhat.jpg

(If you like these hats you should see the ones in my new Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900. It’s available in the Family Tree Shop store. Click the link below.)

If you happen to be in London, stop by the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! photo gallery and say hello.

Thank you for participating in my Silly Old Photo contest on my website. It’s not too late to vote. I’ve extended the deadline until the day I return.


Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Related Products

    30 Comments

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    ALL COMMENTS

    1. Looking at furniture as well as clothing, I also vote for the first as American and the second as the Englishman. I also think the slight cock on the hat makes it more likley the first is American.

    2. I’m guessing Picture 1 is the American and Picture 2 the Brit. Picture 2’s well groomed whiskers (Dundreary whiskers?), well cut and pressed suit (tweed?), polished footwear, and walking stick are what swayed me.

    3. I was going to say at first glance that Photo One was the English man simply because I have never seen a photo of an American man wearing a jacket such as that one. But then again, I’ve never seen a photo of an English man wearing one either! So, based on my own impression of how the English man dressed, I will guess the American is photo one and the English man photo two.

    4. I also feel the gentleman in photo 1 is American, and the gentleman in photo 2 is from England. The cane/walking stick makes me think English. The prop background in photo 1 looks American to me, well somewhat; I have a lot of Fr.Canadian photo’s with the same look.

      Janice Joblinski

    5. I vote for the American on top and the Briton on the bottom. The clothing, set pieces, and pose all remind me of photos of ancestors and others I’ve seen before. The lower photo seems more formal and the cane and the angle at which it’s held seem British to me.

    6. One of my husband’s ancestors (British) had a muttonchop beard like the man in Picture 2; also the doublebreasted suitcoat seems more British than American. And what is the function of his manpurse? Picture 1 reminds me of the dress and manner (and hat) of John Wilkes Booth, unconstructed clothing (although his overcoat seems awfully lengthy) and crudely made shoes. Two different eras, two different social levels. 1=American, 2=British.

    7. The top photo is American, the bottom one British. A Brit who owns an ensemble presented in either photo would never wear or be pictured in the unpressed, poorly put-together, sloppy, ungroomed look evident in the top photo. The Brits of the pictured socio-economic strata who would own this kind of clothing also had maids and butlers to keep their person and their clothing neat, trim, and dapper.

    8. No. 1 reminds me of Charlie Chaplin in "The Little Tramp." The elongated jacket and disheveled appearance with the small hat were the factors that swayed me to vote American. I had read that photographers carried clothing for customers to change into to have their pictures taken; but, this is the first example of clothing in this condition I have seen. Perhaps it was a tongue-in-cheek photo just for fun. The No. 2 photo appears to me as British, especially with the walking stick, and the natty attire tailored for the gentleman. Decision: No. 1 American and No. 2 British.

    9. No. 1 reminds me of Charlie Chaplin in The Little Tramp. The elongated jacket and disheveled appearance with the small hat were the factors that swayed me to vote American. I had read that photographers carried clothing for customers to change into to have their pictures taken; but, this is the first example of clothing in this condition I have seen. Perhaps it was a tongue-in-cheek photo just for fun. The No. 2 photo appears to me as British, especially with the walking stick, and the natty attire tailored for the gentleman. My decision is No. 1 American and No. 2 British.

    10. No. 1 reminds me of Charlie Chaplin in "The Little Tramp." The elongated jacket and disheveled appearance with the small hat were the factors that swayed me to vote American. I had read that photographers carried clothing for customers to change into to have their pictures taken; but, this is the first example of clothing in this condition I have seen. Perhaps it was a tongue-in-cheek photo just for fun. The No. 2 photo appears to me as British, especially with the walking stick, and the natty attire tailored for the gentleman. Decision: No. 1 American and No. 2 British.

    11. I think #1’s long coat and bow tie are indications of his working attire (possibly a shopkeeper?) and not sloppiness – I think he’s the Englishman.

      #2 could be either, but I think those side-whiskers and beard were more popular in the U.S. The purse is probably a courier’s pouch.

      I’m going to say #1-English, #2-American.

    12. American is #1
      Brit is 2.
      the setting for #1 is typical of photos taken in the Civil War period in a studio setting. The Brit looks like more of a stately home with furniture etc.Also the walking stick is something a Brit might carry than American..

      Sandy

    13. I think that #1 is the British man. Not everyone was wealthy and perfectly tailored. I think that #2 is the American, a city fellow with well tailored clothes. If it were not that way, why would you have given us these two photos to compare.