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  • "Disrespectful Foreign Innovations”: trouser tension in Britain in the interwar years

Roberts, Cheryl, 2016, Conference or Workshop, "Disrespectful Foreign Innovations”: trouser tension in Britain in the interwar years at Costume Colloquium V: Restraint and Excess in Fashion & Dress, Florence, Italy, 17-20 November 2016.

Abstract or Description:

Eve Bracegirdle, a young fashion journalist in the 1930s, explained in interview that she was never embarrassed to wear trousers. In 1932, she was walking along the coastal path of South Cornwall with a group of her friends. The terrain was rough and the sea winds were breezy so Eve had decided earlier to wear a pair of her boyfriend’s sailing trousers for practicality.
Little did she know the storm her sartorial choice would create amongst the local community. A petition was posted and declarations of ‘drastic action’ toward the ‘very weak-minded’, who, ‘appeared in masculine dress’ were threatened by the ‘Vigilance Committee.’
The petition highlighted the wearing of trousers as a practice ‘disrespectful to the religious communities.’ Which ‘religions these garments were offending were unknown. What is apparent is that even as late as 1932 trouser wearing by women was very much rejected by restraining, conventional society.
In the inter-war years individuality was not admired. Respectability and acceptability were core to the lives of women of all social classes and the wearing of trousers by women were seen as a spectacle, a representation of hedonism.
This paper investigates why the wearing of trousers by women across class in 1920-1939, did create a moral panic amongst a generation by considering two key themes, liminality and social conditions. The issues that will be covered include the development of the acceptability of trouser wearing by women in ‘liminal’ spaces, and fashion as a representation of modernity and femininity.

Official URL: http://www.costume-textiles.com/?page_id=2907
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W230 Clothing/Fashion Design
School or Centre: School of Humanities
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2016 15:44
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2016 15:44
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/2127

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