^ Rhoda Marley to Clive FitzWatters and Harold Twine in Travers, Rookery Nook, chapter XII. Offering to assist her, Clive had suggested to Twine that "it will be more or less guess-work on my part – in the bag put one pair of thin com – er – lady's summer underwear". Rhoda asked if Twine "could just manage a pair of cami-knickers and a Princess petticoat". As early as 1920, in Travers' début novel The Dippers, Pauline Dipper's "black silk petticoat [did not] extend unduly, and it was possible to esteem the shapely outline of calf and instep, compressed in stockings of the same material" (chapter III). Also in The Dippers, a young woman tried to start a conversation about "hygienic underclothing for ladies" with a man she mistakenly believed to have written articles on the subject: "I wanted to speak to you about something delicate ... this is not a subject one can discuss in public. People have such conventional ideas" (Helen Monk to Henry Talboyes, chapter VIII).
By the turn of the 20th century, an increasing number of professional women, notably in America, were attempting to live outside the traditional parameters of society. Between 1870 and 1910 the marriage rate among educated women in the United States fell to 60% (30% lower than the national average), while, by 1893, in the state of Massachusetts alone, some 300,000 women were earning their own living in nearly 300 occupations. The invention of the typewriter in 1867 was a particular spur: for example, by the turn of the 20th century, 80% of stenographers were women.
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One social historian has observed that "the innocuous woollen jersey, now known [in Britain] as the jumper or the pullover, was the first item of clothing to become interchangeable between men and women and, as such, was seen as a dangerous symptom of gender confusion". Trousers for women, sometimes worn mannishly as an expression of sexuality (as by Marlene Dietrich as a cabaret singer in the 1930 film, Morocco, in which she dressed in a white tie suit and kissed a girl in the audience) also became popular in the 1920s and 1930s, as did aspects of what many years later would sometimes be referred to as "shabby chic". Winston Churchill's niece Clarissa was among those who wore a tailored suit in the late 1930s.
^ In 2013 The Oldie published a cartoon depicting women suffragettes of the early 20th century with the caption "... but I'm not sure about this proposal to burn our whalebone corsets" (Oldie, February 2013). A pragmatic 21st-century view was that "feminism is not about burning your bra in the street. It is about [among other things] women getting up in the morning and leaving the house to go to a job that pays them an actual wage ..." (Laura Smith, letter in Metro, 30 October 2012).
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