Currently Reading: Women in Pants

Dear Readers, I am having some problems with my computer, and so I’m not able to make any new posts. While we are waiting for a miracle cure for my old HP Touchsmart, here is a post from five years ago.

I’ve been reading this book, Women in Pants, for the past day or so, and I’ve got to say how much I really loved it.   Ironically, I almost didn’t buy it; in fact had passed on it several times.  You see, I was prejudiced against it for several reasons.  First, there are more photos than there is print.  That is usually a bad sign for me, as I love great old vintage photos, but I like a  little information served up with them.  It’s been my experince that books full of vintage photos usually are just about what you see.  And that leads me to former objection number two, which was this book is pretty much the collection of one person, author Catherine Smith.  Again, I’ve really come to suspect books of this type as being long on images, short on info.

I’m happy to say that I did take a chance on the book, and I was terribly wrong about it.  Smith and Greig present a well researched, beautifully illustrated book on the subject of women who literally wore the pants in an era when it was almost completely socially unacceptable to do so.  The photos Smith and others have collected are accompanied with insights gleaned from many primary sources, which are quoted liberally throughout the book.

While the book shows women wearing pants in the expected ways – college girls in bloomers playing basketball, stage actresses dressed as men during performances – there are some really interesting and off-beat photos of women dressed as men lovers and even all female weddings with half the women dressed as men.  And then there are the women adventurers dressed as men as they flew aeroplanes and scaled mountains.  Fantastic stuff!

As a collector of old photos of women in sportswear, I’ve looked through thousands of vintage photos.  Usually the older ones just get a quick glance from me, but now I’ll be looking for the crooked mustache and the too large suit coat!

And here are some of my favorite women in pants:

10 Comments

Filed under Currently Reading, Proper Clothing, Vintage Photographs

10 responses to “Currently Reading: Women in Pants

  1. Stella L.D.

    I’m starting to read this book too so far its pretty good.

    Like

  2. Had to wear a skirt to school every day until I was 12 (including a crinoline sometimes). No wonder I wear black jeans every day I’m not going vintage!

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  3. I gave this book a quick glance in a museum book store once–now I’m going to sit down and read it!

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  4. CG

    As late a 1964 the recently appointed first female Library Clerks in the Library of the House of Commons won the right to wears trousers at work, on the grounds of modesty when they climbed the long ladders to retrieve books from the upper shelves of the high-ceilinged Library, above the heads of the Members of Parliament reclining in the large green leathers armchairs below.

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  5. Pingback: Girls Will Be Boys | The Vintage Traveler

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