Victorian Pants

Olivia Bennet

As we all know, Victorian Fashion was striiiict. There weren’t many chances for individuality, phases, and everything we go through today (because who can’t relate to going through phases? 😀 ), and well, rules were there to be followed.

Women were expected to be dressed a certain way at certain times and not doing so was the same as us going outside half-naked . Your reputation would be ruined, respect from others would diminish and your embarrassment would reach all-time highs. 

So today, I’m here to tell you of the one movement in the Victorian era that I find admirable. 

I have read about it before, but my favorite Youtuber, Karolina Żebrowska, shed some light on the situation and gave some information about it. 

We all know that Victorian women would never wear pants, right? Well, I’m here to tell you why that’s wrong 🙂

Let’s start from the beginning. Victorian women did wear pants for sports, hard work, or helping the soldiers on the battlefield (too many wars to count back then). So it wasn’t completely forbidden, just the instances that permitted it were extremely limited. 

Royal women, of course, were rarely allowed to, so they’re not even part of this conversation at this point. 

Clothes back then were becoming more impractical as time went on. 

It all started with a man. 

I mean, doesn’t it always?

But as I was saying, it all started when a man wrote an article critisizing women of the time (as they do). He went on to critize the fashion, saying that the clothes were impactrical and uncomfortable which was spot on, actually. So he did suggest that women wear Turkish style pants, with a skrit covering their knees. 

An American activist, Amelia Bloomer, saw the article and despite how sexist it was, she did take something positive from it. She agreed with the criticism of the clothing and the impactracility and she adored the idea of pants. She owned her own newspaper, so she was able to respond too. 

Well, here’s when things took a turn. Amilia, after seeing a friend of hers wear it, took it upon herself to adopt the look and plaster it all over her newspaper, including an illustration of herself wearing it. 

Copies sold like crazy! Women loved it and kept messaging the newspaper Amilia owned to ask about the new dress. Oh my!

Meanwhile, after the sudden spark in popularity, numerous people wrote articles on it. Some applauded it, some simply commented on it and others condemned it completely! Tough life. 

The style actually spread all over the world and was considered a feminist symbol. 

Amelia Bloomer (1818-1894) by Granger | Fashion, Amelia bloomer, Fashion  history

Now, for the bad (maybe not so bad) news. After this, Amelia received really bad press. Although people followed her as a model, others hated her and considered her an abomination. Drawings were made of her doing “manly” things of the time (like going to gentlemen’s clubs, proposing to men, smoking cigars. You know, normal things.). 

All that negative press did create a sense of fear in multiple women, but Amelia never suffered from any disrespect herself. She even claimed so. Maybe the bad press was there, but everyone treated her as a normal person. 

Wearing pants wasn’t actually considered that bad. You weren’t spat on, or chased out of establishments if you did it. People just passed it off as nothing. It was the same as seeing a man wearing a dress today. 

It was out of the norm for many people, but at the end of the day, it was no one’s business and they simply wouldn’t pay attention to it. 

Profile of Amelia Bloomer

We don’t have a bad ending after all! Amelia herself decided to stop wearing the new outfit. It wasn’t because of any negative feedback she received, but mainly because she stopped being physically comfortable with it. 

She also wanted to feel feminine a lot of the time, which is NEVER a bad thing. 

Her courage was admirable and I’m sure we can all respect her for that. 

What do you say, my sweetie? 🙂


-Written by Olivia Bennet

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