I recently attended a panel discussion on Women’s Rights and Women’s Clothes at FIT NYC with my blogger friend Anne, part of the Triangle 100 talks commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that killed 100+ immigrant working women. It was a captivating discussion that involved a delightful Q&A with Janie Bryant, costume designer for the TV series Mad Men, set in the 50s and early 60s, about the clothes as part of the plot as well as portraying the psychology of the characters.
Overall the discussion highlighted for me just how restricted women have been over the years by their clothing. I take for granted the freedom I have in choosing to wear trousers over a skirt or even put on a bra instead of being locked into a corset every morning. I forget about the importance of historical figures such as Amelia Bloomer, (who you can read about here; this lady was dedicated to women’s rights issues; suffrage, education and fashion) the Dress Reform Movements of the 19th Century and also just how much we have to thank characters like the Gibson Girl for.
“Everything [a woman] wears has some object external to herself. The comfort and convenience of the woman is never considered; from the bonnet-string to the papershoe, she is the hopeless martyr to the inventions of some Parisian imp of fashion. Her tight waist and long trailing skirts deprive her of all freedom of breath and motion. No wonder man prescribes her sphere. She needs his help at every turn.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton
So as a little tribute to Amelie Bloomer and all the important characters in Dress Reform to whom women owe a debt and much gratitude, here is my ‘city girl shorts’ outfit post – my outfit for a bright Spring day in Manhattan. (If you’re living in NYC and thinking ‘what the..?!’ this photo was taken early this week, before the snow flurries arrived! Crazy weather in your country, America…)
I’m all about the dress, but I’m also all about a woman’s right to choose what she wears.