Blooming Lovely: Fashion and the Suffragette Movement

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The Bloomer Outfit in 1850

Short Story: Contrary to logic, Amelia Bloomer didn’t invent the item of clothing known as bloomers. Bloomers were invented by Elizabeth Smith Miller, herself a civil rights supporter from a family of civil rights supporters and abolitionists. As an advocate of Victorian dress reform, Elizabeth Smith Miller was one of the first women to wear Turkish pantaloons with a knee-length skirt. Bloomer, who ran and edited the very first newspaper in America for women: The Lily, promoted the wearing of bloomers. Though her support of this dress reform, Amelia Bloomer’s name became associated with the outfit, and eventually named for her.


Elizabeth Smith Miller in on the right of this image.

Long Story: In 1849, the Water Cure Journal, a popular periodical that focused on health matters, suggested that bloomers were a healthy alternative to other forms of female dress. Dress reform as a big…

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