Tuesday, November 3, 2015

my granny wore pants

Lizzie from The Vintage Traveler (the best fashion history blog out there; go follow her!) just posted a wonderful four-part blog series based on a talk she gave about the American woman's transition from skirt to pants wearer, called Knickerbockers for Women.  You can go read the first part of the series here; there are links to each successive post on Lizzie's blog.

I couldn't read Lizzie's posts without thinking about my own paternal grandmother, Edna, who was born in 1908 and lived during this interesting time in women's fashion.  I am lucky to have lots of photos of Edna through the years.  I posted a few of them on my Instagram account over the past couple days, but decided to post the rest here.  Unfortunately, because I was very young when she died, I never had the chance to ask my grandmother about her thoughts on fashion.  I do know from my dad that Edna did wear nice clothes, and that she bought high quality clothing, usually on sale.  And though these are all photos of Edna in knickers or pants, she did wear lots of lovely dresses and smart suits!  

These first three photos are likely from the the mid-1920s.  Though these show her in a rural setting (she had family in Indiana), Edna grew up in St. Louis, and with her bobbed hair, knickers, and bow tie, was clearly influenced by the La Garçonne or flapper fashions of the time.

Look at those stockings/socks!  You'll see them again later.

Edna looks a bit older here, so I think this photo may be from the early 1930s.  A rather sporty outfit, with tall lace-up snake boots and that cool leather jacket.

Here's Edna with my grandfather, Daniel, both quite sporty, sometime in the 1930s.  This is nearly the same outfit as the one above, but Edna's hair is a bit longer.  Both are wearing those tall boots, which are probably ideal for hiking through wherever you go to hunt rabbits!  And I just want to point out here, my grandfather was also a city kid.  Clearly these two relished time away from urban St. Louis!

Edna didn't just wear knickers in the 1930s--look at these cute overalls!  I love the cardigan and beret, too.

This photo and the next two show Edna wearing pants in the mid- to late-1940s.  I especially love this first photo, as the entire outfit looks a bit more formal and elegant, with the tucked-in blouse and jewelry.  And the appearance of her eyeglasses!

I'm thinking this is a family road trip of some sort (my grandparents loved to travel) and I'm impressed by Edna's casual yet glamorous look--great sandals and lipstick!

This photo is from 1972, two years before Edna died.  She didn't always wear pants at this time, but when she did, she looked just as smart and chic as she did when she wore a dress or a suit.



  1. My gosh, I WAS writing about your grandmother! "The knickers-wearing girls of the 1920s became the pantsuit–wearing grandmothers of the 1970s, who had learned years earlier the comfort and practicality of pants." She was exactly the woman I had in mind when writing those words.

    You are so sweet, saying all those nice things about my blog. Thank you.

    1. Thank *you*, Lizzie! Not only is your blog wonderfully informative, it's always thought-provoking. And I'm glad it inspired me to put all these photos of Edna in pants in one place.

  2. Wonderful! Thanks for posting. Got here via American Age Fashion.


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