I am asked to give a statement of my experience in adopting wearing, and abandoning the short skirt. In the spring of 1851, while spending many hours at work in the garden, I became so thoroughly disgusted with the long skirt, that the dissatisfaction -- the growth of years -- suddenly ripened into the decision that this shackle should no longer be endured. The resolution was at once put into practice. Turkish trousers to the ankle with a skirt reaching some four inches below the knee, were substituted for the heavy, untidy and exasperating old garment.
Soon after making this change, I went to Seneca Falls to visit my cousin Mrs. [Elizabeth Cady] Stanton. She had so long deplored with me our common misery in the toils of this crippling fashion, that this means of escape was hailed with joy and she at once joined me in wearing the new costume. Mrs. [Amelia] Bloomer, a friend and neighbor of Mrs. Stanton, then adopted the dress, and as she was editing a paper in which which she
advocated it [The Lily], the dress was christened with her name. Mrs. Stanton and I often exchanged visits and sometimes travelled together. We endured, in various places, much gaping curiosity and the harmless jeering of street boys. In the winter of 1852 and 1853, when my father [Gerritt Smith, a wealthy advocate of abolition, woman's rights, and other reforms] was in congress, I was also in the cosmopolitan city of Washington, where I found my peculiar costume much less conspicuous. My street dress was a dark brown corded silk, short skirt and straight trousers, a short but graceful and richly trimmed French cloak of black velvet with drooping sleeves, called a "cantatrice," -- a sable tippet [stole] and a low-crowned beaver hat with a long plume.
I wore the short dress and trousers for many years, my husband, being at all times and in all places, my staunch supporter. My father, also gave the dress his full approval, and I was also blessed by the tonic of Mrs. Stanton's inspiring words: "The question is no longer how do you look, but woman, how do you feel?"
The dress looked tolerably well in standing and walking, but in sitting, a more awkward, uncouth effect, could hardly be produced [or] imagined -- it was a perpetual violation of my love of the beautiful. So, by degrees, as my aesthetic senses gained claimed the ascendancy, I lost sight of the great advantages of my dress -- its lightness and cleanliness on the streets, its allowing me to carry my babies up and down stairs with perfect ease and safety, and its beautiful harmony with sanitary laws -- consequently the skirt was lengthened several inches and the trousers abandoned. As months passed, I proceeded in this retrograde movement, until, after a period of some seven years, I quite "fell from grace" and found myself again in the bonds of the old swaddling clothes -- a victim to my love of beauty.
In consideration of what I have previously said in regard to fashion, I feel at liberty to add that I do not wear a heavy, trailing skirt, nor have I ever worn a corset; my bonnet shades my face; my spine was preserved from the bustle, my feet from high heels; my shoulders are not turreted, nor has fashion clasped my neck with her choking collar.
All hail to the day when we shall have a reasonable and beautiful dress that shall encourage exercises on the road and in the field -- that shall leave us the free use of our limbs -- that shall help and not hinder, our