Is your heroine a woman a head of her time? Or is she on the cusp of something great. Most of us want strong women as our characters but when and how do they fit through history. Until Modern times and with that I mean to about the 1970’s you can almost follow the amount of power and independence women had but the hem of their skirts.
Don’t believe me?
Ok through most of history woman have had very little power. Yes there were the exceptions Elizabeth and Victoria being very powerful queens for their time. Yet they had to fight for that power tooth and nail. And their skirts dragged the ground. (I am placing most of this in the time frame of the middle ages on,)
In the late 1860’s ,when women gained the right to vote in England only if there were no men in the family to do so, we saw the brief rise in the hem line. Not in evening wear, but some day wear was now over the ankle. I know…scandalous.
By the 1920 the hem line has been slowly rising. Many women still wear longer gowns but it is considered fashionable and acceptable to wear the dresses with higher hemlines. The hemline peaks at the mid calf until the time the woman of America get their vote in August 1920 catapulting the hemline above the knee.
The great depression brought an end to the flapper dresses moving the hemline back under the knee. It also was a step back for women from the freedom they had felt in the 20’s. When World War 2 happened women out of necessity came out of their dresses and into pants to work in the factories. Women were earning a paycheck and supporting the war effort at home. When not at work women some women remained in pants but those who preferred Skirts found their hem line back up to the knee.
When the men returned from war women came out of pants and back into their skirts. The image of the perfect 50’s housewife may come to mind. Most skirts hemlines fell back to mid calf as women lost jobs and went back into the kitchen. Again women lost a great deal of their independence in the process.
In the 1960’s everything changed the Pill was FDA approved, though it was illegal to use in some states. Women took a huge step into gaining a true independence. The miniskirt was created.
The hem has fallen and risen since then but over all Women had maintained there independent foot hold. We still fight against glass ceiling and still have battles to be won but we can now dictate our own hem line.
Although women’s power suits today do usually involve a short skirt, just a thought.