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Suffragette City Part 6: Boy Meets Girl February 15, 2013

Now, although it is not a Real Place, it takes place in a Real Time.

It’s a destination in history, now securely planted in popular imagination, happening at a place called Downton Abbey.

Here lives a family whose members, in age and cultural breadth, experience the wildly changing early days of the 1900’s.

Last year, I accidentally re-discovered a treasure trove of pictures and old magazines from this time in my studio and something else totally unexpected popped up.

While exploring the era’s wonderful history, something fashionable became clear: the sweater that started a revolution in knitwear (while starting a revolution in the voting booths around the globe), the first widely-worn sweater of the 20th century!

Chic Knits Suffragette City Part 4

Here you see Sylvia Pankhurst and, I believe, her sister Christabel, being arrested while demonstrating for the Vote, England, circa 1905.

But notice what the ladies are wearing – something that looks really modern, something you can still find in 2013, over a hundred years later, fresh as ever.

A Jersey V-Neck Cardigan.

But look closely.

These suffragette’s are wearing men’s cardigans!

Because, you see, up until this time, women didn’t wear Sweaters.

They wore cloaks, coats, shawls and wraps, looking more like this

Chic Knits Suffragette City 6

than this

Chic Knits Suffragette City 6

But as women ventured into the public realm more and more, the clothes they were wearing became less about silhouettes, embelishments or ornament

they became all about Mobility.

Imagine swinging a racket or club in this:

Chic Knits Suffragette City 6

or would you rather (notice the smile) wear this:

Chic Knits Suffragette City 6

…all in the series:
– Suffragette City Part 1
– Suffragette City Part 2
– Suffragette City Part 3
– Suffragette City Part 4
– Suffragette City Part 5
– Suffragette City Part 6

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8 responses to “Suffragette City Part 6: Boy Meets Girl February 15, 2013”

  1. Susan says:

    When did the whole “buttonholes on the left for males and the right for females” start? That bugs me. Can’t think of a good reason to differentiate.

  2. Denise says:

    I love this story! You’re right that one could wear that same sweater today. In fact, I’m going to be knitting “Hey Girl’ as soon as I find the right yarn so I WILL be wearing it soon. Thanks for this fashion history lesson.

  3. Raymonde says:

    What great photographs, thank you for sharing!!! Keep them coming if you have more, they’re fascinating!

  4. Bonne Marie says:

    I love fashion history!!

    Srsly: When did the whole “buttonholes on the left for males and the right for females” start?

    Will investigate because I’ve always wondered that myself!!

    What’s really funny is that I can remember, even at a very early age, it felt funny when I put my brother’s jacket on and tried to button it. Would always fumble.

    Raymonde – more segments coming – stay tuned! :)

  5. Raymonde says:

    Thank you, I will stay tuned! :-)

  6. Not only is the golfer smiling, but she is wearing a skirt wide enough for a full walking stride. In addition, she is wearing low heeled shoes with laces–no buttonhooks.

    Thanks for showing some women’s (and fashion) history.

  7. Seanna Lea says:

    I have to say that even though I would never buy or wear those hats, I love seeing them. They are so fancy and outrageous!

  8. Bonne Marie says:

    They are glorious! (But humongous).

    And only $2.98 for all those feathers & ribbons! I keep wondering how they would pack those things up.

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