Vintage Durango: Frock or pants?

by Patty Templeton

Nice lady, I don’t know if you know this, but you’re wearing trousers. Actually, you aren’t but it looks to me as if you might be a 1919 newspaper man because I can’t wrap my mind around a dress with a waistcoat or cuffs. Shocking, really, a woman in almost-pants.

Though these are examples of dresses, similar frocks that contained cleverly-concealed pants first debuted in the 1850s. A Rational Dress Society even formed in England in 1881. At the time, women wore up to 14 pounds of undergarments as part of their underskirts. Not only did bulky garments weigh a woman down, they swept up street juices and trash. Gross.

It’s no wonder that streamlined dresses and trousers became the go-to garb for gals. Fans of costume dramas (and hell yes I watch costume dramas) may remember Lady Sybil in high-end harem pants in “Downton Abbey.”

If a wave of a molasses could flood downtown Boston, killing 21 people, a woman had a right to run from it in a sensible outfit (i.e. the 1919 Boston Molasses Disaster). Hip-hip-huzzah for women in pants. Now to work on pockets that aren’t fake or tiny…

Patty TempletonDGO Staff Writer

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