The Dress Reform movement of the mid-19th century hoped to liberate women from the most limiting aspects of their clothing. It was symbolized by the adoption of a shorter skirt over loose pants or “bloomers,” but it also encompassed other changes more intimately inside a woman’s layers of clothes. Other reform movements, including the women’s suffrage movement, adopted the Bloomer costume as a representation of their ideals. The reform dress inspired intense controversy, and lead Americans to question gender roles and expression.
Join historians Ashley Hopkins-Benton and Kjirsten Gustavson as they uncover these layers of controversy, comparing the differences between fashionable dress and reform dress of the 1850s and linking them to the social movements that changed women’s lives for generations to come. The talk will be heavily illustrated and include reproduction costumes.