This month’s post follows suit from last month’s The Hat-Pin: Fashionably Dangerous. Below are laws and arrests as related to the hat-pin and other fashion items considered morally corrupt, impeding, or dangerous to society….
1 Shorten and Cap those Hat-Pins
As the hat-pin became a formidable preventionary tactic from lecherous men, some long hat-pins became worrisome to the public for the potential damage they could inflict. Cities began enacting laws that would regulate the size of the hat-pins to prevent more serious damage. Check out some of the laws that were passed, most of which are noted in the book, The Hatpin Menace:
March 1910 – Chicago passed a law that banned any hat-pin longer than 9 inches.
April 3, 1913 – A New Jersey law stated that any hatpin which could inflict a laceration upon another person needed to be covered with a protective tip. Any violators would be fined between $5-$25.
April 12, 1913 – In Massachusetts, a law went into effect that made it illegal to wear a hat-pin that extended ½” beyond the hat being worn, unless the end of the hat-pin was covered with a protective tip
This cartoon from the satirical, Punch; or The London Charivari, known for its political and social commentary in the form of humorous illustrations. This particular drawing from June 4, 1898 reads: Lady Cyclist (touring in North Holland). “What a Ridiculous Costume!” This cartoon says a lot about what many of the English thought of women’s cycling ensembles (and many Americans as well).
Much of Western society found they could accept skirts adapted for riding, but knickers, bloomers, and trouser variations worn without a skirt over top proved to be much more controversial. The construction of these ensembles was based on loose trousers, but they were typically so voluminous that they would often look like a skirt while the woman was standing next to her bicycle. This aided in conforming the look to societal standards. Lady’s magazines like Cosmopolitan, featured images of bloomer cycling costumes, thus propelling its familiarity and acceptance, yet sometimes featuring articles with conflicting opinions on the ensemble. The Western world was intrigued by this new form of dress for women, but not everyone was ready to adopt or accept its integration.
This multi-part series will examine cycling costumes for women, which began the catalyst for this blog.
Warwick “Perfection Safety Bicycle, USA
Patented in 1888
Minnesota Historical Society Collection
During the last ten years of the nineteenth century about 650,000 bicycles were sold to women in the United States alone. The safety bicycle replaced the less-stable high wheel in the 1880s, and the safer design made the activity more feasible for lady riders. This exploded as a popular activity in the 1890s, and cycling became popular means of sport and recreation for people of all ages and of different classes. It was especially important as a symbol for women who were making bold steps out of traditional domestic lifestyles and into a more active and public life.