Pilots trousers for women returned to fashion. The loose style pants eventually found their way into women's wardrobes as hostess or palazzo pants, sometimes worn at the beach.
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However, for much of modern history, the use of trousers has been restricted to men. In many regions, this norm was enforced not only by social custom but also by law. There are, however, many historical cases of women wearing trousers in defiance of these norms, for a variety of reasons, including comfort, freedom of movement, fashion, disguise notably for runaway slaves  , attempts to evade the gender pay gap , and attempts to establish an empowered public identity for women .
Especially in the 20th and 21st centuries, the customs and laws restricting this manner of dress have relaxed dramatically, reflecting a growing acceptance and normalization of the practice. Various US cities, in the 19th and 20th centuries, passed legislation barring women from wearing trousers. Anti- crossdressing laws continued to pass well into the 20th century, with Detroit , Michigan and Miami , Florida passing laws as late as the s, and Cincinnati , Ohio passing one in .
Additionally, existing laws such as anti-vagrancy statutes were pressed into service to ensure that women would dress in accord with the gender norms of the time. This law was used to prosecute women for cross-dressing, on the grounds that their dressing outside of gender norms constituted a "disguise" .
Boston used similar anti-vagrancy laws to arrest Emma Snodgrass and Harriet French in Snodgrass would be arrested again in Cleveland in , and French would be arrested again in New York in French reportedly broke with convention in order to pursue job opportunities open only to men: Anti-vagrancy laws were also used to arrest Jennie Westbrook in New York, in and Westbook's case was said at the time to have "awakened deep interest" among the public, as it was understood that she was attempting to "escape from that bondage [to] which social laws have subjected the sex.
In , early women's rights advocate Elizabeth Smith Miller introduced Amelia Bloomer to a garment initially known as the "Turkish dress," which featured a knee-length skirt over Turkish-style pantaloons  Bloomer came to advocate and promote the dress, including instructions for making it, in The Lily , a newspaper dedicated to the "Emancipation of Woman from Intemperance, Injustice, Prejudice, and Bigotry. Elizabeth Cady Stanton , Susan B. Anthony , and Lucy Stone , other early advocates for women's rights, also adopted this style of dress in the s, referring to it as the "freedom dress" [ citation needed ].
Concurrently, some female laborers, notably the pit brow women working at coal pits in the Wigan area, began wearing trousers beneath a short skirt as a practical component of their uniform. This attracted the attention of the public, and various photographers produced records of the women's unconventional manner of dress through the mid- to late 19th century.
Another woman who advocated publicly for dress reform was Mary Edwards Walker , the abolitionist and Civil War surgeon. Walker, who had worn bloomers while working at a military hospital, wrote in that women's dress should "protect the person, and allow freedom of motion and circulation, and not make the wearer a slave to it" . Walker openly wore men's trousers, and was arrested several times for wearing male attire her earliest arrest was , in New York, and her final arrest was in , in Chicago, at the age of 80 .
An updated version of the bloomer, for athletic use, was introduced in the s as women's bicycling came into fashion. As activities such as tennis, cycling, and horseback riding became more popular at the turn of the century, women turned to pants or knickerbockers to provide comfort and freedom of movement in these activities, and some laws made allowances for women's wearing of pants during these activities . Women increasingly wore trousers as leisurewear in the s and 30s, and working women, including female pilots, often wore trousers [ citation needed ].
Arrests for cross-dressing did not necessarily cease during this time. For instance, in , labor leader Luisa Capetillo became the first woman in Puerto Rico to wear trousers in public.
Capetillo was sent to jail for what was then considered to be a crime in Puerto Rico, although the judge later dropped the charges against her. Actresses Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn were often photographed in trousers in the s; Dietrich famously appearing in a black tuxedo and matching fedora at the premiere of The Sign of the Cross .
Eleanor Roosevelt became the first First Lady to appear in pants at a formal function, presiding over the Easter Egg Roll in wearing riding pants, a consequence of not having time to change after an early morning ride. However, she seemed to embrace the unconventional circumstance, posing for a photo in the pants on the South Portico of the White House . Vogue featured its first spread of women wearing slacks in During World War II , women working in industrial work in war service wore their husbands' suitably altered trousers, and in the post-war era trousers were still common casual wear for gardening, socialising, and other leisure pursuits [ citation needed ].
Similarly, in Britain during the Second World War , because of the rationing of clothing, many women took to wearing their husbands' civilian clothes to work while their husbands were away in the armed forces.
This was partly because they were seen as work garments, and partly to allow women to keep their clothing allowance for other uses. As the men's clothes wore out, replacements were needed, so that by the summer of it was reported that sales of women's trousers were five times more than in the previous year. In , the Government Code Section In the s, André Courrèges introduced jeans for women, leading to the era of designer jeans.
Also in , Barbra Streisand became the first woman to attend the Oscars in pants, accepting an award for her role in Funny Girl dressed in an outfit designed by Arnold Scaasi . In , the Education Amendments of passed in the United States, which, as part of the Title IX non-discrimination provisions, declared that dresses could not be required of girls.
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