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Carol Perkins: How pant suits have changed lives of women

Carol recalls important dates - 1993 for one - when institutions even allowed women to wear pantsuits, the women who dared be the first - like fashion icon Ruth Bartley as a teacher in Metcalfe County, who dared to be the first to wear pant suits in the classroom. 'Many in our society frown on women wearing pants (especially in church) and that is their right, but I'm just thankful that I never have to wear a dress again . . . ' she says.
The next earlier column: Carol Perkins: Swearing off the Happiest Place on Earth

By Carol Perkins

Pantsuits became popular in this part of the country around 1970. As a matter of fact, I found a full-page feature story (70s) in our local paper about women wearing pantsuits! Things that we once thought were so shocking or newsworthy are nothing more than a passing thought today-in most situations. However, at the time a woman wearing a pantsuit in the work place was daring. It was not until 1993 that ladies could wear pantsuits (or slacks of any kind) on the Senate floor.

The pantsuit of the 60s and 70s was usually made of polyester and the top was a jacket that matched the bottom. The top might have a trim down the front, but it was basically one color. When it was finally acceptable to wear them to school, (as a teacher) most of us never returned to skirts or dresses. Pants were much more comfortable when working with students.

The first teacher that I remember wearing a pantsuit was Ruth Bartley. Of course, she was a fashion icon as those who knew her will agree, and her pantsuit was classy and of high quality; she paved the way for the rest of us teachers to step out in our own. I never remember this being an issue with principals or any administrators, but it was a daring move because none of us knew what might be said.

Hillary Clinton has done more to make the modern pantsuit a fashion statement than anyone I know. I loved her outfits on the campaign trail and could see myself in some of them, especially the yellow jackets. She once referred to herself and her presidential staff as "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits" (a referral to the book, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Although not referred to as pantsuits, many men during this period were sporting the leisure suit. That was nothing more than a polyester shirt type of jacket and matching pants. Sometimes they topped off their leisure suit with a silk scarf tied around their neck (small one). I think Guy had a dark green leisure suit. (It may be boxed up somewhere in the basement.) For several years, the leisure suit was the informal go-to attire for men, and John Travolta moved this rage forward in Stayin' Alive in the Disco era.

Many in our society frown on women wearing pants (especially in church) and that is their right, but I'm just thankful that I never have to wear a dress again (unless I want to dress up for a gala and go to a ball!) I'm with Hillary on this one!

This story was posted on 2018-06-21 02:04:03
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