Today, we’d hardly consider the simple act of wearing pants a political demonstration. But, believe it or not, there was a time when women were banned from trying the trouser on for size.
It All Began with Bloomers
By the mid-19th century, a movement for women’s rights was in full swing and its leading ladies were ready to ditch heavy dresses. In 1851, activist Amelia Bloomer was introduced to a new two-legged style slated for women and wrote about its practicality in her popular journal. While she didn’t pioneer the pant, she can be credited with taking it public. Because of this, they named the style “bloomers.”
Jeans and Genderless Fashion
Fast-forward about a hundred years to the rebellious blue jean. By the 1950s, denim – typically worn by the working class – was donned by celebrities like Elvis and James Dean as a statement against a squeaky-clean image. By the 1960s, women were borrowing this pant style from the bad boys to demonstrate a counterculture of genderless fashion. Denim is said to be “the great equalizer” and a testament to the feminist ideal of Rosie the Riveter, just decades before.
The Present-Day Pant
Pants have become androgynous, but that wasn’t always the case. Up until about 1970, it was frowned upon – and, in some places, against the law – for women to wear pants in places like offices, schools, and restaurants. We’ve certainly come a long way, considering that pants are now considered conservative in a world of shrinking skirts.
By Jillian Hudon, Staff Writer
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