Pantaloons and Power: Nineteenth-Century Dress Reform in the United States

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Overview

"By the early nineteenth century clear definitions had developed regarding how American women and men were supposed to appear in public and how they were meant to lead their lives. As men's style of dress moved from the ornate to the moderate, women's fashions continued to be decorative and physically restrictive. This visible separation of the sexes was paralleled in other arenas - social, cultural, and religious. Some women defied this convention and cut their skirts short, abandoned their corset, and put on trousers." "In Pantaloons and Power Gayle V. Fischer depicts how the reformers' denouncement of conventional dress highlighted the role of clothing in the struggle of power relations between the sexes. Wearing pantaloons was considered a subversive act and was often met with social ostracism. Fischer contends that while it was not the goal of many reformers to alter gender relations, as women adopted pantaloons the perception of male and female power relationships blurred, and the boundaries of social roles for women began to shift." "This carefully researched interdisciplinary study successfully combines the fields of costume history, women's history, material culture, and social history to tell the story of one highly charged dress reform and its resonance in nineteenth-century society."--BOOK JACKET.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780873386821
  • Publisher: Kent State University Press
  • Publication date: 3/5/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Who Wears the Pants? 1
1 Perfecting America: Antebellum Reform, Fashion, and Antifashion 8
2 The First Dress Reformers: New Harmony, Indiana, 1824-1827 32
3 Pantaloons in Private: Health and Religious Dress Reform before Freedom Dresses 46
4 Pantaloons in Public: Woman's Rights and Freedom Dresses 78
5 Out of the Closet: Health and Religious Dress Reform after Freedom Dresses 110
6 "I'm Coming Out as a Bloomer": Eccentric and Independent Dress Reformers 132
7 What Happened to Dress Reform? 160
Epilogue: Women Wear the Pants 174
Notes 179
Bibliography 225
Index 255
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