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Nov 26, 2008

First Women to Wear Pants

Did you know...
Elizabeth Smith Miller is often credited as the first woman to wear pants.
Miller was a suffragette. Her goal in the 1800s was to help women in the United States win the right to vote. She also aided slaves seeking freedom – her home was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Miller designed a pair for herself. They were long baggy pants that narrowed at the ankle and were worn over skirts. These early pants were designed to give women more freedom of movement while still preserving the decency expected of Victorian dress. After Miller debuted this style of pant, a few other women donned them. However, they were highly criticized in the mainstream media. Most of the women who wore them were active in the women's rights movement.

Amelia Jenks Bloomer, another suffragette, made and wore Pantaloons, as they were called at the time. Bloomer advocated a style of dress that would be less restrictive for women than the traditional style of her time: corsets, petticoats and floor length skirts.

Most likely it was Fanny Wright who was actually the first woman to wear pants. Wright was a Scottish woman who became a U.S. citizen in 1825. She is known as a writer, feminist, abolitionist and social reformer. Wright was the co-founder of the Free Inquirer newspaper, which she used to share her views on society.
For a few years of her adult life Wright lived in a socialist commune called New Harmony in the 1820s. There she dressed in loose bodices and ankle-length pantaloons with dresses cut to the knees. Today, Wright's style would be considered bohemian.

Women like Wright, Miller and Bloomer were strong advocates for womens rights and advanced the equality movement with their brazen dress and strong opinions. However, the sight of women in pants remained controversial for many, many more years.

* Susan Molinari, a Congresswoman from New York, caused a stir as recently as 1990 when she became the first woman to wear pants on the floor of the House. Molinari was giving a speech to the U.S. House of Representatives and she expected what she said to make news. Instead, her outfit got all of the headlines.

* The powerful woman's group, The Committee of 200, an invitation-only group of successful women entrepreneurs, lists among its members the first woman to don pants for a White House event.

* Katherine Hepburn was the first actress to wear pants in a major motion picture.
* Mary Tyler Moore created a controversy, wearing capri pants as Dick Van Dyke's television wife Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show.

* Charline Arthur, a country western star, was the first female singer to wear pants while performing on stage in the mid 1940s.

* During World War I, as women went to work in factories, they started to wear pants. However, the practice was still frowned upon.

* Marlene Dietrich furthered the cause when she wore pants in the 1930 film Morocco.
* Rosie the Riveter, the iconic symbol of women during World War II, made pants more popular for women.

* By the 1950s, jeans and capris had become standard attire for women.

In the 1960s, André Courrèges introduced long trousers for women as a fashion item, leading to the era of the pantsuit and designer jeans and the gradual eroding of the prohibitions against girls and women wearing trousers in schools, the workplace, and fine restaurants.

Thanks to those women who stood up and proclaimed pants as womens wear we can
now strut our stuff in all kinds of pants, Even tuxedos.


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Anonymous said...

Hi. I noticd dt d Millers, Fanny & d early 20th century wore pants bc they were rebelling against sth. Xtians say it doesnt matter, it's a thing of d conscience, God luks at d heart etc. Bt, if a christian lady feels her wardrobe is incomplete wt pants, then, sth is wrong wt d hrt. We must nt con4m wt d world's pattern bc all 'it-doesnt-matters' will bcm 'matters-arising' on d last day. May d gd Lord be our strength.