Women as seen from the back, 1909

Women as seen from the back, 1909

In this amusing illustrated article from the September 1909 issue of the Ladies’ Home Journal, women are viewed from the back in order to judge them on the appearance of their clothing. Each pair of women shown here demonstrates one good and one bad example of neat and tailored style. The writer seems so horrified by some of the poor choices that she turns to very emphatic language. I particularly liked her complaint about one of the hats one misguided woman has chosen to wear, which “is nothing short of a freak.”

Admittedly, I had a hard time determining which was the good example and which was the bad in some of the illustrations, but it seems that the one on the left is always the good one and the one on the right is always the bad. With that in mind, please read and enjoy the article as presented here. To make things easier to see, I have separated the one long page into three smaller sections, but you can click on the thumbnail scan of the full page at the end of this entry if you’d like to view it that way.

Women as seen from the back

You can see the quote that refers to the top two hats in the picture above, but here is what author Marion Wire has to say about the bottom two women in the image above:

“You may see the two girls below in any audience. The first one has been careful in the selection and arrangement of her dress, while the other one shows a decidedly vulgar taste in the use of rhinestones, false hair and coarse lace.”

Now on to the next set of women:
 Women as seen from the back, 1909

Here are the author’s views on the top two women in the above image:

“Unattractive as is the picture on the right it is only what is too often seen. A stout woman should never accentuate her generous proportions by wearing a large hat of abnormal shape, nor shorten her height by a raised belt and a waist divided into sections, and she should always have a wrap for street wear. See how different the woman on the left appears. The long lines of the coat tend to make her look taller, and the hat is most appropriate.”

(As a side note, it’s interesting to compare what the Journal advised “stout” women about their dress three years later, as seen here.)
As far as the bottom pair of women in the above image:

“The well-dressed woman below evidently uses her mirror. If the other one realizes how she looks from the back is it possible that she considers the effect good? The difference is not one of money, but of care and taste.”

Finally, we’re on to the last group:

Women as seen from the back, 1909

What the article has to say about the top two women in the image above:

“Every girl would appreciate how much better she will look if she will attend to the small details of the back as well as the front of her dress, being careful to fasten every button or hook, to see that all the edges meet, to put her clothes on straight – in short to make herself look trim and neat. The graceful shirtwaist girl shown above, and the untidy person over on the right illustrate this point beautifully by comparison.”

Concerning the women in the middle of the above image:

“This showy person on the left is a type which suggests a preference for quantity rather than quality. The lines of her suit, of the most extreme and gaudy style, never were graceful, and her back looks positively crooked as she tries to walk, with her trailing skirt gathering up the dust. Contrast the simply-gowned woman next to her. In every line of her costume she shows good taste and a feeling for proportion, harmony and fitness.”

And about the tiny pictures on the bottom:

“The bottom of the skirt and the shoes are most important and should always be carefully looked after. Ragged skirt braids, and flashy shoes run down at the heels indicate the general slovenliness of some women.”

And as promised, here is a tiny scan of the entire page if you would like to click on it and read it that way:

 Women as seen from the back, 1909

I thoroughly enjoyed this little article and I hope you did too!

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