Try dating family photos from clothing, hairstyles, and jewelry for clues on those mysterious images. As someone who named her blog after a 1920s line of dresses, I have some favorite resources on this topic.


The website features multiple pages with specific tips on dating family photos from clothing, hats, and even undergarments. The featured image above comes from their article entitled “The Costume Detective: How to Date a Photograph Using Costume History Example 1 – 1910” by Pauline Weston Thomas.

Other sections of the website are organized by era and use illustrations and text to help pin down a time period.

2. Dating Family Photos By Clothing at Univ. of Vermont

Dating Family Photos from Clothing

A 1926 Sassy Jane frocks advertisement.

Don’t be fooled by the title. The University of Vermont’s Landscape Change Program offers thousands of online images arranged by decade. The program is funded by the National Science Foundation to digitally document how the Vermont landscape has changed over time. Fortunately for genealogists, this includes many photographs of people and fashion, conveniently arranged by decade:
1850s | 1860s | 1870s | 1880s | 1890s | 1900s | 1910s | 1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s

3. Hairstyles Book for Dating Family Photos

Use the clues in Maureen Taylor’s  book, Hairstyles 1840-1900. “How they wore their locks and their facial hair for the photographer,” says the Photo Detective, “will tell you a lot about them.” 

4. Vintage Victorian

Victorian Era aficionados unite at Vintage Victorian website. Founded in 1989 by Catherine Bishop, Vintage Victorian produces historical reproduction clothing, accessories, period fashion reference books, as well as doing restoration work on period outfits. “Our interest primarily focuses on 19th and early 20th Century fashion, although our portfolio of designs includes items from the 18th through the mid-20th Centuries.” The site’s library is arranged by the following categories:

5. Crow’s Eye Productions

Dating Family Photos from ClothingCrow’s Eye Productions creates videos showing what it was like to get dressed in different times in history. Crow’s Eye Productions was “established by Nick Loven in 2005 to bring alive history through beautifully crafted videos using historically accurate period costume and locations.” Creators of the “Getting Dressed in…” series, this site can provide context to your research in Europe in different centuries.

For other Sassy Jane posts about dating family photos, click here. And have fun dating family photos by clothing!