Amelia Bloomer

BLOOMER, Amelia, née Jenks, American schoolteacher, 1818-1894. She wanted  girls to wear bloomers during sports activities (1851), but bloomers were a non-starter for this purpose. A knee-length skirt was coupled with loose trousers gathered in at the ankles, she called this rational dress. During 1852 when antagonism to the proposed dress surfaced (from both sexes), she adopted that uniform herself when on lecture-tours. Amelia was the publisher of  ‘The Lily’, a magazine promoting temperance, feminism and modesty in dress (from 1849). The word bloomer became a neologism for an idea that had no chance. In one usage, bloomers did became popular, the dress was practical when women rode a bicycle. Amelia had not created this design, Elizabeth Miller in England did it. Bloomer advocated their usage for all kinds of activity, but she was taken aback that her name was associated with their design. They were practical for cycling, but they caught on faster after Amelia had promoted them.

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