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Presentation

Abstract

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, women’s clothing in the United States embodied the societal restrictions imposed on women. Clothing reform represented a critical cog in the holistic wheel of expanding women’s rights in all fields. Through research of contemporary newspapers, meeting minutes, and secondary scholarship I analyzed the language used by these dress reformers to initiate change. The historic and societal aspects have been extensively researched, but I closely examined the specific way dress reformers persuaded men and women. Dress reformers adapted their strategy as social construction evolved over the century. Meeting little success in their initial targeting of men in popular culture, advocates of clothing reform shifted toward reaching other women, demanding that they find their own voice. My research demonstrates how woman changed their perception of themselves and discovered their ability to alter society in the late nineteenth century.

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Humanities

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Apr 11th, 10:20 AM Apr 11th, 10:40 AM

Women’s Sphere to Women’s Strength: Changing Strategies of Dress Reformers from 1850-1900

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, women’s clothing in the United States embodied the societal restrictions imposed on women. Clothing reform represented a critical cog in the holistic wheel of expanding women’s rights in all fields. Through research of contemporary newspapers, meeting minutes, and secondary scholarship I analyzed the language used by these dress reformers to initiate change. The historic and societal aspects have been extensively researched, but I closely examined the specific way dress reformers persuaded men and women. Dress reformers adapted their strategy as social construction evolved over the century. Meeting little success in their initial targeting of men in popular culture, advocates of clothing reform shifted toward reaching other women, demanding that they find their own voice. My research demonstrates how woman changed their perception of themselves and discovered their ability to alter society in the late nineteenth century.