How Politics shaped womens fashions in the early 20th century
This is a very interesting article in the 1950s pinup magazine about the history of how politics and politicians shaped women’s fashions during the first half of the 20th century.
The early feminist movement asked for many changes, among them suffrage, easy divorce, property laws, and equal education. This resulted in a fashion trends that were mannish, including the no-curves, flat chested, flapper girl of the 1920s. This article goes on to call Victoria Claflin Woodhull a “political freak” (who ran for presidency in 1872), and pacifist Jeanette Rankin whose only winning two terms in congress corresponded with declarations of war (1917 and 1941). The caption under Woodhull says that she ran on a free love ticket.
This article goes on to say how early female politicians dressed like men, and acted like them too! Amy Lowell puffed cigars, Dr. Mary Walker wore trousers, Anne Adams (an early 1920s Assistant Attorney General) argued in court wearing a white suit (identical to a man’s), and Miss Francis Perkins wore severe suits with tricorn hats.
“It took Marlene Dietrich in slacks to prove that legs in trousers could be exciting!”
Luckily, by the 1950s, things had started to come around. Female politicians finally realized that femininity was more of a help than a hinderance and male politicians were unabashedly using cheesecake to win votes and influence.
It goes on to point out Claire Boothe Luce as as the first truly glamorous politician, and gave kudos to Oveta Culp Hobby (the director of the WAAC, later the WAC) for redesigning the WAC uniform (and wearing it better than most).
Such obsession with the female body!
I hope that we’ve progressed in our attitudes about female politicians in the 21st century, what do you think?