Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Fashion and the law

Without the suffragette movement life could have been very different indeed.  Anna Haslam formed the Irish Suffragettes in Dublin in 1876 and at the age of 89, along with millions of other women voted for the first time in an Irish election in 1918.With that in mind I thought I would share a few images relating to women's fashion and how the law at the time infringed upon how and what we wore. We have a lot to thank our historical sisters for.

These first couple of images were taken by an amateur photographer, J.J. Clarke (from County Monaghan) between 1890 and 1910 while a medical student in Dublin.

This is a shot of two fabulous ladies walking down Grafton Street in Dublin. This gives you a really good idea of what the fashion of the day was. Very formal and covered up!

The following is a photo taken in Bray (the Brighton of Ireland) of what ladies had to go through to go for a swim!
This was called a bathing machine and was strictly enforced for women at the time! Ladies had to enter the cabin and a horse pulled the cart into the water where ladies would emerge (fully clothed) for their seaside dip, modesty fully ensured! This was common practice in 19th century Europe and America but it continued to be used in certain Irish seaside resorts until the 1950s!

The next photo shows a Cincinnati suffragette dressed as a policewoman in 1909. The notion that women could possibly be employed in law enforcement was so alien that they had to dress up and present photographs so the public could grasp the idea! Note that the photo is marked -
 "woman policeman 
(ideal - not actual)"
(It was not until 1959 that Irish women were permitted to join An Garda Siochanna, with Mary Browne from Galway becoming the first Ban Gharda.)

Moving on to the 20's!
This photo shows a Washington policeman measuring the distance between a woman's knee and bathing suit in 1922. There was a law stating that bathing suits could not be over 6 inches above the knee.  

And this photo shows what happened if you ignored the law. This was taken in Chicago in 1922, showing  the arrest of several women daring to wear bathing suits that did not adhere to the legal hem length.

I could go on and on....!!!
Now that I am no longer spending every evening making vintage circus themed wedding paraphernalia I have a ridiculous amount of free time. With that in mind you can expect further posts from me on random subjects!!

x Caroline x

1 comment:

Aisling Nelson said...

Brilliant post Caroline - I'd imagine you would have been one of those ladies being hauled kicking and screaming into the back of a truck for 'breaking the fashion rules' of the time.

And you'd make a great police-woman too (if you could customise your uniform a bit!)