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Definition: Bloomer, Amelia Jenks from Philip's Encyclopedia

US women's rights campaigner. She published Lily, the first US magazine for women, between 1849 and 1854. She subsequently continued as editor, and wrote articles on education, marriage laws and female suffrage. As part of her campaign, she popularized the full trousers for women that became known as "bloomers".

Summary Article: Bloomer, Amelia Jenks
from World of Art: The Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Fashion and Fashion Designers

In the mid-1850s Dexter Bloomer, proprietor and editor of a New York weekly journal, The Seneca County Courier, published an article suggesting that the short skirts and ankle-length trousers worn by Turkish women were far more practical than the voluminous long-skirts and petticoats of their European and American counterparts. Mr Bloomer’s wife, Amelia, took up the theme and printed an article in her own feminist paper, The Lily, calling for functional clothing for women. Several women thereupon abandoned the KNICKERBOCKERS and NORFOLK JACKET worn at the time for sporting activities and dressed instead in an outfit consisting of a fitted BODICE; a full, knee-length skirt; and TURKISH TROUSERS, or BLOOMERS, which reached to the ankle, where they were frilled and gathered. In England this outfit was known as a Camilla costume. It was not adopted by significant numbers of women until the 1880s and 1890s, when cycling became popular. The wearing of bloomers was initially the object of public outrage, amusement and ridicule.

Mrs Amelia Bloomer, c. 1850, wearing the outfit that she advocated for all sensible women.

© 1986, 1989, 1998 and 2008 Thames & Hudson Ltd, London; Text © 1986, 1989, 1998, and 2008 Georgina O'Hara Callan

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