“Male Bloomers” in The Lily, 1854

Under this head many of our brother editors are aiming their wit and ridicule at those gentlemen who have donned the Shawl as a comfortable article of wearing apparel in cold weather.

There is a class of men who seem to think it their especial business to superintend the wardrobes of both men and women, and if any dare to depart from their ideas of propriety, they forthwith launch out into all sorts of witticisms and hard names, and proclaim their opinions, their likes and dislikes, with all the importance of authorized dictators. As to the Shawl, it would be well if it could be banished from use entirely; as it is an inconvenient and injurious article of apparel, owing to its requiring both hands to keep it on, and thereby tending to contract the chest, and cause stooping shoulders.

American Fashions, 1849-50

American Fashions, 1849-50

But if worn at all, men have the same right to it that women have. If they find it comfortable, that is enough; and no one has a right to object to their wearing it because women wear shawls. The sack coats of the men, and the sacks of the women at the present time are cut very nearly after the same pattern. Both find them comfortable and convenient, without being burdensome. The hands are left free to swing at the sides, or use at pleasure, and the form may be carried erect, with shoulders thrown back and chest expanded. This is the most comfortable and useful garment for the street, for both men and women, ever introduced; — and must either dispense with this comfortable garment because it is worn by the other?

In the judgment of these teachers of propriety, one or the other sex should relinquish this coat, and some new style of overcoat be introduced for the party which is deprived of the privilege of wearing this one. There is the same reason for raising a cry about this garment, as about the shawl. Indeed, we think the shawl of right belongs to the men; as it answers so well to the description of the garment prescribed for them in Duet. 22. 12: “Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture wherewith thou coverest thyself.” True, men have departed from this injunction in former years, and resigned to woman the dress prescribed for themselves, and worn by their fathers in olden times. But that is no reason why they should not again resume it.

In our opinion people have a right to wear about what they please — what may suit their own wants, or their fancy; and while we claim the right to decide for ourself in our own case, we accord the largest liberty to our brothers and sisters in the same matter. Let each one study to please himself and herself, and –let other people mind their own business.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Women’s Suffrage Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily (1849-1856), National Citizen and Ballot Box (1878-1881), The Revolution (1868-1872), The New Citizen (1909-1912), The Western Woman Voter (1911-1913), The Woman’s Tribune (1883-1909) and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).

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