Dressed to Protest: What Women Wore to the Revolution

Several years ago I read The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. In case you don’t know the book, it’s about developing creativity. From many conversations I’ve had with adults over the years, it seems that most people either think they are creative, or they are not creative. But according to Cameron (and many others) creativity can be developed.

One thing Cameron prescribes is what she calls “morning pages”. This is where first thing every morning you write three pages of just anything, in an effort to clear your head of whatever is happening in your life so you can be more receptive to your creative side. I’m sure this practice helps many people, but I tried it and it just seemed like a chore to me.

But another practice suggested in the book has proven to be more helpful, that of setting aside time every week for an art date. The art date is a special activity that breaks the routine and exposes you to beauty, learning, and new ideas. It can be anything from a tour through local antiques shops to a museum visit to a lecture on birdwatching.

I really do try to schedule an art date each week. Last week I met with Liza to do some vintage shopping, and then to attend a presentation by Cornelia Powell on the dress reform movement. It was the kind of day that everyone needs, with vintage finds and a thoughtful history lesson. Never mind the guy at the shop who had a big box full of 1930s and 40s Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar magazines that he would not sell. That’s another story.

So, here we are after a rough day of the vintage hunt.  We don’t look too frazzled, in light of the fact that just thirty minutes prior we were considering knocking a bookseller over the head and running off with his box of magazines.

I’ll not go into the details of Cornelia’s presentation, because I can’t do justice to it, but I will share some of the images she used.  It’s easy to see why I enjoyed this so much.

If you have read this journal for any time at all, then you  are already aware that sports, and especially bicycling, played a big role in the move toward reform in dress for women. Bicycling also led to many women becoming less dependant on men for transportation. Could this, perhaps, lead to other things? Some men warned that the bicycle was just a gateway to more independence for women.

And the automobile only confirmed those fears.

The wearing of white was a powerful symbol for women protesting and marching for the right to vote. But also note the “revolutionary” tricorn hats!

I really loved this photo of women from the Western states who had already gained the right to vote. Sometimes we in the East forget that many women in the Western states had been voting for many years.

Cornelia reminded us that fashion was a valuable tool in the fight for suffrage. Many of the leaders of the movement learned early on with the failure of the bloomer that looking respectable was key to gaining respect for their cause.

And so my art date was a big success. Thanks to Liza for letting me use her photos, and to Cornelia for all the food for thought.

Remember to always look up. This was the skylight in the library where the event was held.

12 Comments

Filed under Shopping, Viewpoint, Vintage Photographs

12 responses to “Dressed to Protest: What Women Wore to the Revolution

  1. What a great post, Lizzie. Thank you!
    Yes, I’ve been a big proponent of Cameron’s book for years, although morning pages don’t work for me either. Also feel that everyone is creative, or could be.

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  2. Another fun day of adventure and learning with The Vintage Traveler. I’m wondering if that magazine dude will ever call. I do hope you get the treasure.

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  3. Now that was an informative post! Thank you! (I love how the one lady on the bike actually smiled!)

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  4. Sharon Heller

    That settles it… I am incorporating an art date into my weekly routine!

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  5. During the nonworking winter months, my sister and I have a standing weekly date, which often is going to a gallery or a lecture or a presentation. There are a heap of public lectures in Seattle thanks to the NEH, and enough public art to make free art dates more a matter of making time and calendar accommodations than breaking the bank. And this looks like it was a wonderful presentation. The anniversary has been a great time for more information about this.

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  6. I love this so much!

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  7. ceci

    The ladies balancing on the bikes by holding each other up is a great multileveled image!

    ceci

    Like

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