When we think of women’s fashion in the Victorian era now, we might remember its ties to the fight for suffrage. The great Amelia Bloomer saw corsets and layers of petticoats as inhibiting to women’s movement, and she sported bloomers as a means of aesthetically conveying womankind’s capability. With bloomers, we could easily hop on over to the voting booth. Of course, women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony disagreed, claiming that more restrictive clothing and petticoats added to a woman’s perceived respectability.

Whether we’re team Bloomer or team Stanton, we don’t think of comfort when we think of Victorian fashion. But it turns out that the ladies around the turn of the century had some pretty liberating skivvies. In conversation with Salon, Sarah A. Christman, author of  “Victorian Secrets: What a Corset Taught Me about the Past, the Present, and Myself,” explains the concept behind pantalettes, or Victorian-style panties. 

Christman herself loves wearing them, explaining that they enable women to pee standing up because they are split in the middle. She adamantly exclaims, “women’s liberation had taken a dramatic step backward when we’d given up this equality with the rougher sex.” Not only didn’t Victorian women have to squat, but they might also have had happier nether regions: “Many gynecologists now recommend that women don’t wear modern synthetic fabric panties because they keep so much moisture in that area. Pantalettes allow for more air flow. I just find them a lot more comfortable, says Christman. Who knew??


Thanks to The Cut

Image via She History

Tagged in: victorian fashion, underwear, Susan B Anthony, sarah a christman, petticoats, lucretia mott, lingerie, elizabeth cady stanton, corsets   

The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.

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