52 Ancestors,
in 52 Weeks
Week 29:
Family Finds Charter Oak

Fashion and Old Family Photos

When I look at old photos I sometimes wonder about the fashion choices of the subject. Were they wearing a favorite outfit? Does their clothing reflect the fashion of the era? Or, are they simply making a personal fashion statement? When photographs were nearly exclusively for special occasions, the clothing choices reflected economic status, social standing, era, heritage, or profession. Whatever the case, many of my favorite old family photos show the subject in clothing I think is charming, humorous, or unique.

Earl and Pearl

I wrote about my paternal grandparents, Earl (1888-1928) and Pearl LaFara (1893-1972), for the post Close to Home. [1] I have always liked these portrait photographs of Earl and Pearl. The formal clothing they are wearing looks elegant, to me. So much, that a couple of years ago I tried my hand at colorizing the images. I imagined my grandmother’s dress in shades of her favorite color, purple. Use the vertical slider on each image to see the monochrome or the colorized version.

Edith King

I have this photograph of my maternal grandmother Edith King (1903-1989) from about 1920 wearing a sailor-style outfit. I have always thought this photo of her was amusing. For one, because she is posing by a hay rake which seems incongruous for a sailor. [2] For another, I do not ever recall seeing her wear pants. So, I have wondered how she came to have this sailor suit and I think I found the answer. My grandmother’s brother Charles King (1893-1968) [3] served in the US Navy during WWI. Presumably, he brought his uniform home after his discharge. I did a simple image search of the internet and it returned several photographs of WW1-era sailors posing in similar outfits. I have included one below, found on eBay, next to that of my grandmother. [4]

Edith King 1920
1918 unknown Sailor

Frank Flucawa

I’ve written about my great uncle Frank Flucawa (1883-1974) many times. [5] I remember Frank as the man who wore merino wool cardigans with a shirt and tie. But, when I look at old photographs of Frank I see him wearing a wide variety of clothing. Everything from kimono robes to flannel shirts and a jean jacket. But, the two I like the most he sports bow ties. One is from about 1907 in a very formal suit and the other is from about 1937 wearing a leather coat. 

Frank Flucawa

Frank 1907

Frank Flucawa

Frank Flucawa 1937


My aunt Lois LaFara (1917-2003) once told me the dress she is wearing in this photo (below, top left) was her favorite. She probably told me what color it was, but sadly I have forgotten. Next, is one of my favorite old photographs. This is great aunt Roxie King (1895-1911) as a teenager modeling a charmingly oversized hat and coat (top center). On the top right, below, is a photo of my grandmother Pearl Osborne with her two sisters, Grace and Sadie, about 1911. I like this photo because of the hats, particularly the toque-like hat worn by my aunt Grace.  The remaining three photographs (below, bottom row) are my great-great aunts Alma (1879-1968), Vada (1883-1966), and Maggie (1890-1965) Rumple wearing rather interesting outfits. All three are cabinet cards and are undated, but I estimate they were all taken about 1900.

Lois LaFara Richardson 1948
Alma Rumple Brunstetter 1900
Roxie King, 1910
Vada Rumple Brunstetter 1900
Osborne Girls 1912
Maggie Rumple Morrow 1900


Photographs are ubiquitous today and clothing is plentiful. What an individual wears in a photograph typically holds no particular meaning, unless it is a special occasion. But, pre-digital media, family photographs, and the fashions worn, revealed more about the subjects.


My mother made many of my outfits when I was a child. Too bad we did not have easy-to-use point-and-shoot cameras or digital photography, then I would have photos of all the great outfits she made for me. Instead, I am limited to photos taken at Christmas or other occasions. Here are a few I could scrounge up.

LaFara Brown Dresses 1965

Matching dresses from 1965 made of brown cotton purchased off a bargain table by my grandmother.

Barb LaFara 1969

This dress was made in 1969 from a flower patterned cotton, the vest was reversible to a soft olive color.

Barb LaFara 1971

This peasant style outfit was made in 1971, the skirt was three panels in coordinating prints.

Barb LaFara 1974

From 1974 this is a swirl style skirt in gingham cotton with coordinating wrap blouse. The skirt pieces were difficult to cut and sew.

Simplicity 5922I’m really sorry to not have photos of the two outfits my mother made from this pattern, at right. One was brown corduroy pants with a white fun-fur jacket, trimmed with the brown corduroy. The other was pants, jacket, and newsboy cap made from a taupe twill.


  1. Blog post, Family Finds: Close to Home; https://barblafara.com/close-to-home/
  2. Online image, Family Finds: Ella Rumple King and Edith King, on a hay rake; https://barblafara.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/EdithKingEllaRumpleKing1918.jpg
  3. Profile of Charles King, Website: Ancestry.com, Family tree: Osborne; https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/13493206/person/5107484512/facts
  4. Online image, eBay: WW1 Young Navy Sailor; https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/mUMAAOSwtoBdhcVx/s-l500.jpg
  5. Blog post, Family Finds: Frank Takeo Flucawa; https://barblafara.com/frank-takeo-flucawa/


  1. Cheryl Schulte

    Your technology skills truly enhance your blog. This was a very interesting post but the way that you displayed the photos added to the content. I always look forward to reading what you have created.

    • Barb LaFara

      Thank you for your kind comments, Cheryl!

  2. Becky

    Pearl was stunning! Loved your photos, they always provide that extra thrill because you have a face to put with a name. Beautiful blog!

    • Barb LaFara

      Thank you Becky for your kind comment!


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Remember Me and I Will Live

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Born Takeo Furukawa on 15 March 1883 in Tottori-Ken, Tokyo, Japan, little is documented of his early childhood. Family oral history stories say that the young Takeo experienced hunger, poverty and the loss of his family. Additionally, the stories tell of friendship, spiritual learning and scholarship.

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Rumple Family Photo 1895

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