Long skirts with layers of petticoats greatly hampered women’s movements in the mid-19th century.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her friend Amelia Bloomer were among the first women to rebel by wearing loose, puffed-out pants modestly topped by a “short” dress, which went just below the knees.
When Bloomer showed this costume in Lily, a women’s magazine she edited, the fad caught on, and the outfit was dubbed the “Bloomer costume,” or just bloomers.
But Protestant ministers and other men strongly objected to women dressing in any way like men.
Stanton and other women leaders soon stopped wearing bloomers because they felt the issue of dress reform was taking attention away from more important issues, such as voting rights.