By Michelle Garrett
If it’s tough vintage realness that you’re after, look no further than these turn of the century ladies’ mug shots. The images, released in 2011 by the Australian Historic Houses Trust, come complete with names (or aliases), and descriptions of the charges levied against each woman. These 1920s mug shots are a pretty incredible vintage curiosity, but they’re also an interesting peek into everyday fashions of the early 20th century that exist outside of the flashy film star cosmos.
Annie Gunderson, 20 September 1922
This sombre-looking 19-year-old was charged with stealing a fur coat from a Sydney department store in 1922. Ms Gunderson may be freshly-cuffed, but she looks pretty cosy in her furs. And whilst stealing is generally a bad idea, I’ll give her full marks for commitment to fashion.
Doris Winifred Poole, 31 July 1924
Ms Poole, 21 years old, was charged with stealing jewellery and clothing in 1924. Admittedly, she does look pretty grand. Doris is channeling a Scandinavian goth vibe (about 90 years too early), set off with a killer scowl.
Patsy Neill, 30 January 1930
This 26-year-old barmaid was charged with theft and possession of cocaine. The press described Ms Neill as “looking like a mannequin on parade”, which is a fairly accurate tag line for a lady who wears a party frock to jail.
Fashion history remembers very few working class vintage fashion icons, especially since limited access to cameras in the early 20th century means that wealthy and upper class women are disproportionately represented in vintage images. But these scruffy ladies are femme fatales in their own right: still worth our time and fashion idolatry nearly a century later.
Want to dress like a smouldering 1920s petty thief? Etsy has your back.
You’re just one fur coat away from The Annie look. You should find a lifetime’s worth of Annie-era vintage fur on Etsy, and faux fur aplenty on nearly all modern or vintage reproduction sites. (New fur not required).
Doris does a five star goth flapper look, and you should try it on for size! It’s possible to create this look with vintage pieces, but save your pennies and give modern a go. Start with a Scandinavian shift dress, and work your way out. Try this Monki number – just add a cloche and terrifying eye contact.
Patsy is our party girl, so you’ll be needing a party dress. An authentic 1930s number might be ambitious, but oh, how it’s nice to look! This taffeta frock is pretty lovely, but don’t dance too hard or you’ll tear a fragile sleeve. Don’t forget the cloche, and stay away from trouble, Patsy – you have been warned.
You can find more tough lady mug shots and commentary here. All photos via Historic Houses Trust.