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About

The Full Story

Ever find yourself dozing off in class?  Eager to learn more, but you just can’t get into that bone-dry textbook you’ve been trying to read for the past month?  Welcome to Amelia’s Bloomers, where we aim to be your first stop for all things fashion history.  Through our written and visual content, you’ll discover new facts every day without having to earn a PhD.  So join us, while find out just why Marie Antoinette was the original cottagecore girl.
 

Begun as project in 2021 during her MA course while studying at the London College of Fashion, founder Elizabeth Little is proud to present Amelia's Bloomers, which will share all sides of fashion history.  Featuring contributors from various backgrounds, AB strives to be factual and intersectional in its information without feeling like you've just spent a day in class.

Who is Amelia Bloomer?

Born in 1818, Amelia Jenks Bloomer was a 19th century suffragist, editor, and accidental fashion icon.  She began her career as a teacher before becoming involved within the political community and social reform in Seneca Falls, New York.  Bloomer's husband supported her involvement and even encouraged her to begin writing a column.  Following her attendance to the 1848 Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention, she founded The Lily in 1849 - America's first newspaper edited by and for women.

Whilst The Lily initially published topics related to temperance and women's rights reform, the newspaper caught fire when it began writing about women's dress reform.  Adopted from a Turkish style of dress, fellow temperance activist Elizabeth 

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Bloom•er•ism

noun | archaic, sometimes derogatory

Support for equal rights for women; an early form of feminism.

Smith Miller started wearing a short dress over loose, gathered pantaloons.  A number of other suffragists adopted this style of dress - including Elizabeth Cady Stanton - before it made its way to Amelia Bloomer.  However she quickly embraced this new style of dress and wrote about it in her newspaper.  In addition to publishing an illustration of the costume, Bloomer wrote about the many physical benefits this new style of clothing had over the traditional western dress; the bell shaped shirt was the most common silhouette of the 1840s, however in order to achieve the exaggerated bell shape, a women had to wear layer upon layer of petticoats.  This often resulted in women wearing an extra 10-15 lbs (4.5-7 kg) of weight hanging directly from their hips and causing unnecessary strain.

Image via The British Museum

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Translation:

"I want to say that Mrs. Bloomer of New York recommends that the ladies wear only pants without the waistcoat."

"And me, I maintain that your pant do not have the correct sense and I keep my petticoats by adopting the rest of the male costume."

"Come on, come on, ladies!  It is pointless to argue, you are just as ridiculous as each other."

The new look quickly caught the world by storm, and people everywhere began referring to it as "the Bloomer costume."  Unfortunately, it's popularity quickly fell from grace.  The look was instantly ridiculed my most men, making it difficult for some wearers to go out in public without facing harassment.  Moreover, the creation of the cage crinoline in the early 1850s allowed for women to get even more of a voluminous bell shape but without the weight of all the petticoats worn prior.  Fashionable and easy to wear, the crinoline pushed the Bloomer costume almost entirely out of existence.  Even Amelia Bloomer herself distanced herself from the look, as she felt the public had become too focused on her clothes rather than social reform.

Amelia Bloomer sold The Lily in 1854 and relocated to Iowa where she continued her social reform and helped Union soldiers during the American Civil War.  Eventually, she passed away in 1894 at the age of 76.  While Bloomer preached many things during her lifetime, she will forever be remembered for her progress in dress reform.

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Let’s Work Together

Amelia's Bloomers is always on the look out for contributing writers.  Contact us if you want to join the team.

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