Lucy Stone - Clothing Reform

Clothing Reform

In the summer of 1852, Stone went to Seneca Falls, New York, to meet at the home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and help draw up the charter for a proposed "People's College". Horace Greeley was there, and Stone met Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Amelia Bloomer for the first time. Stone admired Bloomer's trousered dress that she had been advocating since 1850 as offering greater freedom of movement and being more hygienic. The costume allowed women to work more freely, especially to carry things up stairways rather than using both hands to lift their dresses. Back home, Stone bought black silk for simple pantaloons and arranged for the tailoring of her own Bloomer dress, scorning any feminine adornment such as lace.

An estimated 100 women took to the controversial fashion, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Leading abolitionists, upon seeing Stone in her bloomers, viewed her style of dress as a detriment and distraction to the anti-slavery cause. They were divided about whether to permit her to wear it. Wendell Phillips came to her defense and Stone was given freedom of dress. Stone and then Anthony cut their hair short in a straight bob at this time. Even so, Brown invited her friend to speak at her church in South Butler, Wayne County, New York, with the assurance to Stone that the congregation was well aware "that you wear bloomers and are an 'infidel.' "

Wearing bloomers was for Stone a trying experience. Men and boys followed her in the street and settled next to her when she sat, insulting her and making rude jests. Stone said she had never known more physical comfort or mental discomfort than when she put on bloomers.

After Stanton and most women's rights organizers began abandoning their bloomers and returning to long skirts in 1853, Stone and a few others held out. Stone was reported speaking in New York City wearing bloomers in January 1854. Speaking at a convention in Albany in February 1854, Stone relented and brought both bloomers and long skirts, choosing to wear long skirts in public. Susan Anthony chided her but one month later gave them up as well. Stone was reported again in bloomers at the October 1854 National Women's Rights Convention held in Philadelphia, but did not wear them to subsequent speaking engagements. The unusual style had been too much of a distraction for audiences to concentrate on the important words being spoken.

Read more about this topic:  Lucy Stone

Famous quotes containing the words reform and/or clothing:

    The reform [of the civil service] should be thorough, radical, and complete.
    Rutherford Birchard Hayes (1822–1893)

    Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
    Bible: New Testament, Matthew 7:15.