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The type of photographic print, the paper used, the look of the print, the shape of cars, the presence or absence of buildings, the presence or absence of carts and horses, the types of trees in a landscape, the shape of women’s clothes and so on.

Clothing is an important feature of portraits, so that a general knowledge of changes in fashion can help to establish dates at least in relation to decades.

What I’ve found is that knowledge of the taxonomy of women’s clothes is a pretty good general aid to dating photographs.

The bustle has gone (except occasionally for evening ware) but overskirts remain, swaged and pleated to give an elaborate look to the dress where the upper garment is often free of ornament.The hair has a central parting, and framed the face looping down behind, often held in a hair net (or snood).The young woman’s hair and upper garment are generally similar to the previous illustration. Most notable thing at this time is the absence of a crinoline.These broad-brimmed hats are typical of the period. Like that of the 1856 to 1865 period the parting is strictly in the middle of the head.Unlike the earlier period the hair does not frame the oval of the face, but is pulled tightly back away from the lower face.

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The elaboration of the hair with the addition of ornaments prefigures styles of the 1870s. This be-bustled dress illustrates the full development of bustles in the 1870s, with overskirt edged with lace.

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