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Daisies (Enter the New Woman #AtoZChallenge 2022)

D (AtoZ Challenge 2022) Enter teh New Woman - Daisies

The New Woman was to bring change in all aspects of women’s lives, but the place where she started was, maybe surprisingly, fashion. 
One of the first instances of change was the Rainy Day Club, a club of businesswomen in New York who started to advocate shorter, more comfortable skirts. 

The New Woman is recognisable for her look because look and fashion were fields where women had some control over and where they already could attain more freedom. Not surprisingly, fashion was always ground for discussion and criticism when it came to the New Woman. 

One of the first things to be addressed wasn’t the corset, as we might be led to think. It was skirt hemlines. 
Skirts in the 1800s were long enough to brush the floor. They were unsanitary because they picked up little vermins and debris from the street and carried them inside the homes. In wet Weather, they soaked, becoming very heavy. And these dresses were already quite a handful to wear, to begin with! Petticoats hung heavily on the waist, and cage crinolines might be difficult to handle on windy days. Trains and bustles added their own weight and were awkwardly balanced.

Her very dress limit women’s mobility significantly.

As the New Woman started to emerge, this was one of the first things she would address. 

Louis Marie de Schryver - Rainy Day, Flower Seller (1889)
Louis Marie de Schryver – Rainy Day, Flower Seller (1889)
Daisies (Enter the New Woman #AtoZChallenge 2022) The Rainy Day Club was a club of businesswomen in 1890s New York who started to advocate shorter, more comfortable skirts.  Click To Tweet

The Rainy Day Club

Enter the New Woman - Daisies - The Rainy Daisies were a group of New York women who advocated more comfortable clothes for women at the end of the 1890s.

More and more women joined the workforce and became professional and businesswomen in the latter part of the 1800s. Finding a solution to the ‘dress problem’ became paramount for them. 
In 1896, a group of businesswomen from New York founded the Rainy Day Club. Members of the club included all upper-class women who ran some kind of business. They were lawyers, doctors, literary and businesswomen. Although some of them were middle-aged, most of the members were under thirty and clearly represented that generation of New Women who entered the workforce.
These women – who defined themselves as businesswomen, not women of leisure – wanted an outfit that allowed them to comfortably walk in the street, work in offices and take part in meetings with ease of movement.

Their manifesto declared that ‘the dress of today is an absurdity for business women’, and ‘it is impossible for a woman to keep neat and clean even in dry weather’. Their goal was ‘to secure health and comfort by sanitary methods of dress and at the same time to encourage the use of costumes that are genuinely artistic, graceful and modest.’ 
Taking inspiration from the cycling custom, which was shorter to allow pedalling, they proposed their own ‘rainy-day costume’ that included a short skirt, jacket and a high boot.’ Their ultimate goal was to induce women to shed the old fashion and embrace a new, more comfortable kind of attire. 

The club initially received a lot of coverage by the press, who dabbed its members Rainy Daisies, a nickname the club embraced. As with all attempts of ‘dress reform’, they received a lot of criticism. But they had a few advantages they did exploit.
First of all, they were all upper-class women and professionals, so they could afford to experiment with fashion with more freedom than any other class of women could have done. They were also very careful to try and change women’s dress keeping beauty and elegance at the forefront. In the past, women who tried to change how they dressed were accused of wanting to be more masculine, which made them – according to criticism – uglier. The Rainy Daisies always had an eye to make their looks elegant and feminine precisely to avoid this form of criticism.

The Rainy Daisies never achieved the same popularity and dissemination as the contemporary Gibson Girl, but they did shake things up by advocating more freedom through sartorial evolution. 


RESOURCES

Eabinovitch-Foz, Einan. Dressed for Freedom : The Fashionable Politics of American Feminism. University of Illinois Press, Champaign, Illinois, United States of America, 2021

Hisour – Hi So You Are – Late Victorian fashion of women 1890s


23 Comments

  • Kalpana
    Posted April 5, 2022 at 07:45

    I’m.glad the Rainy Daisies decided to do something elegant and practical for women’s clothing. Your research is amazing.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted April 5, 2022 at 09:27

      Thanks. I really enjoyed reserchign this year’s challenge. I learned so many new things 🙂

  • Tasha
    Posted April 5, 2022 at 12:06

    I have not heard of Rainy Daisies before – I like how they claimed the name for themselves so it couldn’t be used against them. Sometimes it’s those with privilege who have to act so those without it can also benefit.
    Tasha
    Tasha’s Thinkings: YouTube – What They Don’t Tell You (and free fiction)

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted April 6, 2022 at 21:21

      Isn’t it cool that they climed the name? 🙂

  • Tarkabarka
    Posted April 5, 2022 at 13:56

    I love it that they embraced the name 🙂 Now I want to read more about them!

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted April 6, 2022 at 21:24

      It was surprisingly difficult to find information about them on the net. Most of the information I used in this blog came from the book ‘Dressed for Freedom: The Fashionable Politics of American Feminism’
      by Einav Rabinovitch-Fox, which is such an interesting book.

  • Andrew Wilson
    Posted April 5, 2022 at 15:07

    My father wrote an article on Bicycle Technology for Scientific American in which he described how the bicycle did for women’s dress, what horse-riding never did (side saddle riding prevailed) so The Women’s Rational Dress was formed in Britain, to campaign for trouser wearing for women. Riding a bicycle with a long dress would have been quite dangerous. Interesting to hear of the Rainy Daisies…

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted April 6, 2022 at 21:55

      The relationship between the New Woman and the bicycle is so surprisning. I touched on it in later posts.

  • Ronel Janse van Vuuren
    Posted April 5, 2022 at 15:47

    I’m so glad they did this! I can’t imagine having to do all the things I have to do in a day in a dress that sweeps the floor.

  • Aggie
    Posted April 5, 2022 at 18:44

    How interesting! Thank you for this little bit of history – new to me! And I love the name. How wise of them t9 embrace it.

    Visiting from A to Z

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted April 6, 2022 at 21:58

      I love the name too.
      I foudn most of this info in the book ‘Dressed for Freedom: The Fashionable Politics of American Feminism’
      by Einav Rabinovitch-Fox (a great read, by the way) and I immediately decided I’d write about them. It’s surprisingly difficult to find info about them online.

  • Timothy S. Brannan
    Posted April 5, 2022 at 20:04

    This has all been a fantastic read. AND coming right off of binging Dowton Abbey I have some good mental images of the time as well!


    Tim Brannan
    The Other Side | A to Z of Conspiracy Theories

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted April 6, 2022 at 22:00

      Happy you liked it, Timothy 🙂
      You know? I’ve never watched Donwton Abbey. I keep telling mself I have to find the time, but so far…

  • Arlee Bird
    Posted April 5, 2022 at 23:38

    Never heard of this movement, but it was a good idea. I’ve always marveled at the crazy layers of uncomfortable dress that women put themselves through prior to this time.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted April 6, 2022 at 22:05

      Seriously, I never realised jus thow many layers of clothes women used to wear. It’s daunting!

  • Shirley
    Posted April 6, 2022 at 00:18

    Such an interesting theme! I read several of the posts and really appreciate your research, and your presentation of it.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted April 6, 2022 at 22:10

      Aww, thanks Shirly 🙂
      I’m happy you liked it.

  • Carrie-Anne
    Posted April 7, 2022 at 06:02

    I don’t think I’d heard of the Rainy Daisies before. While I love ankle-length skirts, I wouldn’t want to wear something that came clear down to the floor. Women have so many more opportunities when they wear clothes allowing freedom of movement.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted April 10, 2022 at 08:48

      I had never heard abou the Rainy Daisies either, they seem to be a very obscure club.

  • Joy Weese Moll
    Posted April 10, 2022 at 15:04

    The Rainy Daisies are new to me — thanks for introducing me! My new heroines.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted April 12, 2022 at 22:07

      They seem to be quite obscure. Nobody who commented knew abotu them, and honestly, it was hard finding anythign about them even on the net.

  • Sherry Anwar
    Posted April 16, 2022 at 12:12

    In my opinion this content is very excellent and the content understanding is quite easy and well keep it up to the blog owner

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