Nineteenth-century reformer Amelia Jenks Bloomer, (1818-1894) of Seneca Falls, N.Y., was the editor of The Lily, a periodical ‘devoted to the interests of women.’Along with her support of woman suffrage and temperance, Bloomer was an advocate of dress reform. Believing that restrictive corsets and cumbersome skirts were injurious to the health of women, in the 1850s Bloomer designed and often wore a comfortable costume of a short skirt worn over baggy trousers drawn tight at the ankle. Bloomer’s costume, portrayed in this Currier and Ives print, became so controversial that any reasonable talk of dress reform was drowned out by the jeers. Finally, Elizabeth Cady Stanton advised bloomer advocates to abandon the costume. It was not until the 1930s and 40s that women began wearing pants, although bloomers were the inspiration for early bicycling and beach apparel.
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