The Great Everywoman Outfit Contest of 1915
A century ago, a cadre of women demanded to be freed from the tyranny of fashion. Their innovative ideas and radical demands—pockets!—took the country by storm.
Edited by Naomi Zeveloff | Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons
In early 1915, a young woman in New York City began to plot a modest revolution. Not the kind that involved bomb-throwing, riots or assassinations, like the one that had sparked a world war the previous summer — hers was to be a social revolution, a stone heaved in a lake that would ripple out and change the world for women. Mildred Johnston Landone, described by a Boston Evening Globe reporter as “a slender, pink-cheeked young woman with a thick pile of ash-blonde hair and a dreamy smile,” was preoccupied with the problem of what women wore — and by extension, how they were able to move through the world. She was not alone in her concerns. Five years ahead of the national suffrage victory, the question of where women belonged, in public and professional life, and how they should be treated there, was an urgent one.