Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Political Dressing

By Sue Schuurman

JUNE 8, 1998: 

74 Years Ago This Week

Of the many obstacles facing politically ambitious women in the '20s, the constricting aspects of prevailing fashions are often underestimated. Respectable women didn't wear the same dress at breakfast and then later at dinner. How then to attend party conventions as delegates where changing clothes wasn't an option? Designers fortunately made the necessary accommodations so women could overcome this subtly effective barrier to political participation.

CHICAGO--Women's active interest in politics is creating new occasions for special clothes, according to a Michigan avenue designer who now is engaged making gowns and wraps and hats for the national convention in Cleveland and New York this summer.

"Women who are delegates and those who are interested onlookers," she explains, "will all want to stay in the convention hall the (entire) time. There will be little or no time to change costumes. And, as everyone knows by this time, the franchise has in no way lessened women's interest in clothes. The most successful women politicians are the best dressed. The national conventions call for a specialized type of gown. It must be simple enough to be appropriate at breakfast, and still not look out of place at dinner on the days when politics wax so exciting that no one can leave for a moment.

"I am making a little black coat dress in French alpalca for one of my customers who is conspicuous in national politics. It is made in straight lines, with a variety of vests. ... To go with it she has a small light leghorn hat with a band of black velvet, the sort of hat a woman can wear all day without a headache. I am giving her with this costume, a dozen silk and fibre Burson dollar hose so that she can vary her costume around her ankles every day. They are in powder blue, peach-bloom, cinder grey, fog, blush, sombrero, sunset and three shades of nude. ... She will have a pair of patent leather colonials and a pair of dull leather oxfords and by alternating her shoes and wearing different hosiery every day, she will keep her feet friendly toward her.

"For the days when she may have time to change for dinner, she will take two dinner gowns, one formal and one informal, but the black French alpalca will be her most important gown. Correct clothes that may be forgotten as soon as they are put on, will go a long way toward making efficient stateswomen."

--compiled by Susan Schuurman

Source: Albuquerque Morning Journal; June 2, 1924

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