May/June 1998 | Volume 49, Issue 3
Fashion trends do not submit to rating—they are for passion, loathing, or indifference—but I will lend myself to the idea for a minute.
The alleged abolition of corsets during the second decade of this century.
The permanent shortening of skirts during the same period.
Corseting, which gives a desirable line to the dressed body, has been a feature of human dress for millennia, undertaken by both sexes at different times, and it has never been abolished, only differently applied. In this century, for example, the corset gave way to the bra and girdle, simply moving the constriction away from the center. The vast social and moral significance attached to the temporary shift from small to large female waists around 1913 has always been laughable.
Women’s skirts, on the other hand, had also been long for several thousand years, and getting them permanently off the ground was a real triumph for sex, society, and fashion. Women’s legs and feet were at last seen to function in ordinary life, not just on the stage. Complete female humanity could not be seen to combine with feminine allure until the head, arms, and bosom were connected to the feet and legs in the ordinary look of clothed women. Pants were only an extension of that initial revolutionary move.