Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Getting Dressed

When I was a little girl gender differences were quite delineated. Girls played with dolls and tea sets. Boys played with guns and trains. Girls learned the arts of being a woman while boys learned to be men. They were entirely different creatures.

I am still so grateful to my parents. They never told any of us that there was something we could not do because it was gender inappropriate. Each of us was encouraged to try whatever we wanted to experience as long as it was safe and legal. My parents were certainly ahead of the times.

So when we played house under the cedar trees at my grandparents' farm we each had our own house. We kept them clean and "cooked" our own meals. We each had to provide what was needed in order to have a solid home.

We all played "cowboys and Indians" and we all played with paper dolls. We all went exploring and we all climbed trees. We all played dress-up and jumped rope.

But things were not always the same for both boys and girls.

Little girls wore dresses. If you went to a store to buy clothes for a girl dresses were what they had.

Most of our dresses were shirtwaist dresses. They are a shirt style top with a skirt gathered at the waist and sewn to the shirt. The top was fastened by either buttons up the back or occasionally a zipper at the side. Nothing convenient.

I was a tomboy. Dresses are not a good idea for a tomboy.

I was constantly crawling around on the ground. Besides getting dirty beyond belief my dresses were torn... a lot. When I crawled my knees would land on the skirt of my dress and hold it tight while I kept going. My skirt would pull loose from the top of the dress.

So into the house I would go with my dress all torn. The top of the skirt would be hanging at my knees. Mom would just shake her head and make me clean up and go change into another dress. When she got a chance she would take out her needle and thread and repair my dress... again.

Mom used to get upset with me and my dress at other times too.

When I was feeling "cute" I would grab the sides of the skirt of my dress. Then I would lift it slightly and hook my elbows into the back of the skirt just above the hemline. Then up that back of my skirt would go to rest on my head like a hood.

I never understood what she was so upset about. I always made sure nobody was behind me. Nobody was going to see my panties!

Eventually little girls could wear shorts in the summer. Mom was really happy about that. It cut her mending time drastically.

And the girls who wore horses to school were allowed to wear dungarees and change when they got there. But wearing boys' pants was not a good thing.

So the makers of clothing had a brilliant idea. Why not make a line of pants for girls? The girls' pants did not fasten in the same way as the boys' pants. Instead of a zipper in the front it was on the side or in the back.

I of course wanted to know why I had to zip my pants on the side. The common explanationwas that boys and girls have different plumbing. Boys find it necessary to have a handy opening in the front of their pants in order to access the plumbing when needed. The only problem with that explanation is that my plumbing is not at my side.

I have come to believe that part of the reason was to give a smoother line to the look of the pants. However today most pants have zippers in the front. Times have changed.

Today I do not even own a dress. I find pants to be more functional. If I want to dress up I can find a dressy outfit with pants. Times have changed.


  1. Times have changed. But I still don't feel comfortable wearing a dress in public :)

    1. Me either. Once when my older two boys were very small we were going to the store. I seldom wore a dress but I decided to wear one that day. As we left the house the younger of the boys looked up at me and in a loud whisper said, "Mom, you forgot to put your pants on."

  2. Oh, I am just remembering something...Our Georgia summers get very, very hot and I used to take off my top when I was outside. My mother was horrified and told me I couldn't to that because I was a girl. I pointed out that I looked just like the boys on the top and as long as I had my shorts on, what was the difference? You might guess that I was trying child!
    We only wore dresses to school or to church. At home, it was shorts all the time in the summer and pants in the winter.

    1. Very very little girls were allowed to wear no top just like little boys. But when you came to be a certain age all tops must be covered. From one trying child to another I saw no difference either.

  3. In elementary school the boys wore pants and the girls wore dresses. The boys sat on one side of the room while the girls sat on the other side.

  4. In elementary school the boys wore pants and the girls wore dresses. The boys sat on one side of the room while the girls sat on the other side.

    1. In junior high we even had separate entrances! At lunch if we ate outside there was an invisible line in the front of the school. Boys on one side, girls on the other. Couples who were "going together" would sit together each of them on their own side of the line. (Amazingly enough a couple of the girls got pregnant anyway.)