February 20, 2017

44 Vintage Portrait Photos of Turkish Women in the Early 20th Century

At the beginning of the 20th century, Ottoman women’s outfits were highly under the influence of European styles. Indeed, women of the Second Constitutional period, particularly in the capital city Istanbul, were closely following Paris fashions thanks to big fashion houses in Pera and Greek Ottoman tailors called modistra, who made house calls. In this period, women’s çarşaf became shorter and tighter, revealing women’s bodily features.

Furthermore, especially after the Balkan Wars and World War I, Ottoman women’s veils became more transparent or were replaced by umbrellas that women used to hide their faces, only when needed. This had a lot to do with Ottoman women’s increased activity in work life due to the conscription of men to the army.


Shorter skirts, comfortable shoes and new accessories related to their educational or professional life such as books for female university students, uniforms or badges for women nurses and army staff or pants for those women street-sweepers of Istanbul were unaccustomed details of this new look.

During the Armistice period, just like in Europe and the United States, Ottoman women started to follow short hair fashion of the 1920s. In Istanbul they were also under the influence of Russian refugees who had fled from the Bolshevik army. Russian women, just like the Greek tailors of the previous epoch, set an example of the new European fashions. Ottoman women changed their head covering styles and started using the headscarves called Rusbaşı (Russian head) which was tied at the back of their heads and showed some of their hair and neck.

These lovely photos were taken at studios in Istanbul. They show Turkish women portraits from between the 1920s to 1930s.


















































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