“Fashion Trends Men Hate” isn’t a new thing. Nor is street harassment or catcalling. Hoopskirts, hat pins, and more of these feminist historical fashion trends helped fight unwanted advances and catcalls by maintaining personal space, keeping men at a distance, symbolizing womens’ power, and even LITERALLY STABBING men who grabbed women on the street. Let’s chat about the fashion history and gender politics behind Elizabethan puffy sleeves, 18th century hoopskirts, Victorian crinolines and bustles, huge Regency bonnets and Edwardian hats, and the Hatpin Peril that led to bans all over the world! But most importantly, in the era of #MeToo and Time’s Up, what this dive into the feminism of historical dress will show us that sexual harassment has NEVER been about what the victim was wearing.
Men have been writing about womens’ fashion for centuries, and you’d be surprised how many 18th century and Victorian magazines have articles that read like a modern list of “fashion trends men hate”. This goes back to the early 18th century with the resurgence of hoopskirts, and continued into the 20th century with the “Hatpin Peril”— a supposed epidemic of “mashers” (Edwardian slang for creeps) stabbed with hatpins for bothering women out in public. Inspired by a quote in “The Cut Of Womens’ Clothes” by Nora Waugh, and a tumblr post about how no one actually thought bustles were fake butts, I combed through dozens of ancient magazines and newspapers to figure out why men of the past couldn’t handle Women Wearing Clothes. Dress history tells us a fascinating story about how historical dresses prevented men grabbing arms, kept unwanted male advances at a distance, and in a pinch defended against violence. They also empowered women! From Queen Elizabeth I dazzling her courtiers in huge dresses, to 18th century women flirting on purpose with their hoopskirts, Victorian working-class women breaking down class barriers with fashionable clothes, and Edwardian women going places on their own, safe in the knowledge they carried concealed weapons, fashion and feminism have always worked together in some ways.
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Works “Sighted” (a highly informal bibliography)
Gilded Age Garbage Fire’s post that started it all : https://marzipanandminutiae.tumblr.com/post/175188840617/its-hilarious-to-me-when-people-call-historical
The Cut of Women’s Clothes by Nora Waugh
Internet Archive copy of Fynes Moryson’s “Itinerary” : https://archive.org/stream/fynesmorysons04moryuoft/fynesmorysons04moryuoft_djvu.txt
the Cecil Papers, including “Jones’ Bill for the Q[ueen’s] Gown.” : https://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-cecil-papers/vol14/pp31-49
Kimberly Chrisman’s paper “Unhoop the Fair Sex: The Campaign Against the Hoop Petticoat in Eighteenth-Century England.” : https://www.jstor.org/stable/30053852?seq=1
Project Gutenberg copy of “The Tatler” containing the “Trial Of The Hooped Petticoat” : https://www.gutenberg.org/files/31645/31645-h/31645-h.htm
Project Gutenberg copy of The Spectator, no. 127 contains a letter about hooped petticoats : https://www.gutenberg.org/files/12030/12030-h/SV1/Spectator1.html
Hathi Trust copy of the London Magazine from January 1741, containing one Mr. Stonecastle’s letter on page 84 : https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015021277838&view=1up&seq=84&q1=petticoat
“Crinoline for domestic use” cartoon from the Hathi Trust Digital Library and the University of Michigan : https://victorianweb.org/periodicals/punch/clothing/12.html
Archive.org copy of Routledge’s Manual of Etiquette : https://archive.org/stream/routledgesmanual12426gut/12426.txt
The New York Evening World article about Leoti Blaker : https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030193/1903-05-27/ed-1/seq-3/
The San Francisco Call article about a hatpin and a train robbery : https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1898-01-11/ed-1/seq-6/
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