Better Fashion Helped Women Win The Right To Vote
10:30 am, March 20th | by Meredith Lepore
Here’s a fun bit of women’s history for you! According to The Atlantic, we owe a lot to fashion once again for empowering women — it may have helped women get the right to vote.
Erin Blasco interviewed Alden O’Brien of the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum on the evolution of fashion during the women’s suffrage movement. O’Brien talked about a new kind of woman emerging around 1890. One who “was bolder, more active, more out-and-about in the world, more outspoken than her mother’s generation.” And she needed a new style that was moving away from the Victorian and Edwardian layers and restrictions that kept women literally from moving less freely.
“In general, fashion of this time was starting to reveal just a tiny bit more of women’s bodies: daytime outfits could now show a bit of collarbone instead of having those high, snug collars of just a few years ago. Sleeves could be elbow-length instead of to the wrist; and you might catch a glimpse of ankle—very shortly after 1913, hemlines rise to a few inches above the ankle. (Although women still felt they should wear boots rather than reveal their actual ankles for a few more years!)
All these freer, looser styles allowed more freedom of movement, which suggested great strides were being made in women’s ability to get around and be less constricted physically.”
When women could move around more freely, I’m not surprised that many felt more bold. Weird trends like the hobble skirt, which had a section around the ankles that was so tight it literally hobbled women’s steps, did try to come in to the fashion at the time, but luckily they didn’t last.
So thank you, fashion — for the vote, ballet flats and of course, skinny jeans.