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80027.  Mon Jul 17, 2006 5:56 am Reply with quote

Should be a big topic. Let's start with the emancipation of women. Has it been achieved? More importantly, what jokes does it suggest?

Here's Havelock Ellis on emancipated women:

The brusque energetic movements, the attitudes of the arms, the direct speech, the inflexions of the voice, the masculine straight-forwardness and sense of honour and especially the attitude towards men, free from any suggestion either of shyness or audacity, will often suggest the underlying psychic abnormality to a keen observer.

Sexual Inversion in Women, 1895

There's a nice essay called An Emancipated, Intellectualized Bundle of Nerves: New Woman Identity and Hysteria in Nineteenth Century England" by Tolly Moseley of Southwestern University Department of English at

To cut straight to the anecdotes, though:

The Rational Dress League was founded in 1898 by Viscountess Harberton after she was chucked out of the Hautboy Hotel in Ockham, Surrey, for wearing cycling bloomers. The league campaigned in favour of bloomers, advised wearing no more than seven pounds of underclothes, and would have been an excellent basis for a sitcom if only they had existed in those days.

Rational dress was advocated for men, too. Here's one of them, Andrew Muir, modelling the look:

80040.  Mon Jul 17, 2006 8:41 am Reply with quote

That is so last season dahling!

80049.  Mon Jul 17, 2006 9:11 am Reply with quote

Errr....last century, surely? (or possibly even the century before!)



80058.  Mon Jul 17, 2006 9:33 am Reply with quote

Seven pounds of underclothing? Were they insane?

80059.  Mon Jul 17, 2006 9:37 am Reply with quote

It sounds a lot of money for pants.

80061.  Mon Jul 17, 2006 9:40 am Reply with quote

Though quite cheap for designer pants.

80144.  Mon Jul 17, 2006 6:22 pm Reply with quote

The mind boggles nowadays (especially in the current heat!) at the amount of underwear worn by Victorian women. Chemise, drawers, corset and several petticoats were the minimum, but others were added depending on the fashion - such as crinolines or bustles.

The chemise and drawers were worn next to the skin (though drawers weren't worn much before about 1830 and by the 1870s many women wore a combination garment.) The corset was worn on top of the chemise and drawers and an under-petticoat over all of these. The under-petticoat sometimes had a bodice, but was sometimes a waist petticoat with a separate bodice as a corset cover. Crinolines or bustles could be worn over these, and these frameworks were covered by yet another petticoat, usually more decorative with embroidery around the lower edge, as it was more likely to be seen. These two petticoats were the minimum, though before crinolines it was fashionable to wear several more. The actual dress, or skirt and blouse, was worn over all of this.

Full details on

Last edited by Jenny on Tue Jul 18, 2006 7:51 pm; edited 1 time in total

80195.  Tue Jul 18, 2006 4:28 am Reply with quote

No wonder they kept fainting all over the place :)

80218.  Tue Jul 18, 2006 7:21 am Reply with quote

I bet they still got ready quicker than modern women ;)

80362.  Tue Jul 18, 2006 7:58 pm Reply with quote

It might be a fun wheeze to strip the panellists down to their drawers (with suitable threats about 'co-operate or we'll pretend it's not even 1830 yet) and present them with a large collection of Victorian undergarments and see who can get them on in the right order.

80367.  Wed Jul 19, 2006 1:37 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
It might be a fun wheeze to strip the panellists down to their drawers

Each to their own I suppose but I think I'd rather cut my hands off and gouge my eyes out.

80368.  Wed Jul 19, 2006 1:39 am Reply with quote

You'd probably need to do that the other way round, because otherwise there would be no way to hold the eye-gouging instrument of your choice.

80380.  Wed Jul 19, 2006 3:42 am Reply with quote

Well, you 'could' gouge your eyes out with your feet, if extremely limber, I s'pose...



Quaintly Ignorant
80386.  Wed Jul 19, 2006 3:53 am Reply with quote

I'm fairly certain you can gouge someone elses eyes out with your feet.

80403.  Wed Jul 19, 2006 4:24 am Reply with quote

He's clearly got bows on his silk winkle-pickers in that picture. That's wrong in so many ways.


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