bloomers – and I’m not talking spring flowers

When I’m hunting down future posts for this blog, it’s often a previously unknown word that attracts my attention.  I was looking generally for articles on women in so-called unusual occcupations in days gone by. The word that attracted my attention on this occasion was ‘bifurcated’ which means, as I now know, split into two parts.

So emerged this post on Amelia Bloomer, who did not design the famous bifurcated dress, but did wear them and advocate their use.  (Image source – PBS).

Amelia Bloomer image via pbs.orgMrs Bloomer was a temperate woman and a suffragette.  The Evening News (Sydney) of 25 August 1894 takes up the story of how Amelia’s name became attached to this garment that was the forerunner of women’s modern trouser and gym wear, to say nothing of the benefits of eschewing a large hoop dress to enable one to climb on and ride a bicycle.  I particularly like that her married life was apparently ‘unmarred by other than the fleeciest of temporary clouds’.

Amelia Bloomer - Evening News 1894

(article continues)

now 76 years old, carries her years easily, her 54 years of married life having been unmarred by other than the fleeciest of temporary clouds. It was in 1851 that she began to wear the costume which is now known throughout the English-speaking world as the ‘ bloomer.’ She was then living at Seneca Falls, New York State, where she was publishing a temperance paper called The Lily. In addition to being a prohibition advocate, the paper also devoted considerable space to the subject of woman suffrage. A Mrs. Miller, who in 1851 paid a visit to Seneca Falls, appeared in the bifurcated dress, and Mrs. Bloomer published a description of it. She and Elizabeth Cady Stanton adopted the style and advocated its general adoption. Mrs. Bloomer wore the costume on several lecture trips, and in this way it became associated with and finally known by her name. By and bye (sic) Horace Greeley took the subject up, and was followed by other editors, the result being that the bifurcated dress became known all over the country as the ‘ bloomer.’


So, did Mrs Miller invent the bifurcated dress / miller / bloomer, or was it someone else?

A few months after Mrs Bloomer’s death Australian Town and Country Journal printed this article on 18 May 1895.

Amelia Bloomer ATCJ 1The %22divided%22 skirt
Amelia Bloomer - ATCJ 2