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Women and trousers : being a work on dual garnitures and a case study of the bifurcated movement in nineteenth-century clothing for women in North America

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This thesis analyzes the trousered dress reform movement for women in North America and Britain in the latter half of the nineteenth century, by studying the environment in which trousers were promoted, and by using two art phenomenons of the mid-nineteenth century--the American sculptor Hiram Powers's Greek Slave (1843), and Joseph Paxton's Crystal Palace, a glass structure designed for the Great Exhibition of the Industries of All Nations of 1851 in London, England. Contrary to many modern accounts, archival evidence shows that once the concept of a trousered costume for women was introduced in North America, "...women all over the country [were] making inquiries about the dress and asking for patterns--showing how ready and anxious women were to throw off the burden of long, heavy skirts." American women took their costume to Britain, where they planned to promote it at the Great Exhibition of 1851, which requested "suggestions for improvement from every civilised nation of the world." The women hoped that if the fashion caught on in London, it would be more readily accepted in North America. Analyzing the architectural environment and art surroundings in which it was promoted leads to what I believe to be a more accurate assessment of why dual garnitures for women were not ultimately part of women's everyday wardrobe for another half century at least. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

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