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Jeans and Women of Europe

Updated on April 1, 2015

Jeans and Women of Europe

Now a question naturally arises in every inquisitive mind: when and why did women join the race of wearing trousers of various kinds? There are two mostly accepted views pertaining to this question.

The first one asserts that it was the feminist camp founded in the nineteenth century that emphasized upon women to put on a costume appropriate for taking part in outdoor activities side by side with men. According to the other one, women began to wear pants in the U. S. during the period of the first world war. The reason for this strange revolution was the absence of thousands of men from their homes going abroad to take part in the war. Consequently, women had to work in the fields and factories and that required some suitable dress for their job. So they wore their brothers' and husbands' jeans at first. At last, Levi Strauss & Co came for their help, And thus, in 1925, Lady Levi, the first denim jeans especially made for women was seen in market.

As soon as the war ended, women were once again supposed to wear the traditional feminine dresses as before. For a long time, wearing jeans or any other kind of trousers by women was considered an objectionable act in society; hence, jeans like Lady Levi could be worn by women on their workplaces only. There were hardly a few women violating that custom. Marilyn Monroe is believed to be the first women who appeared in several Hollywood motion pictures wearing blue denim. It must be kept in mind that women could be seen in jeans only on the cinema screen and not in public life in those days.

During the 1960s, with the rise of the feminist movement in the west and particularly in the U.S. , a demand for passing the equal rights bill was made. As a result of it, women were allowed by law to wear pants in public. In 1961, the well-reputed U. S. film actress, Audrey Hepburn, wore pants in the Hollywood movie, Breakfast at Tiffany. In 1969, Charlotte Read, Republican member of The U.S. National Congress, for the first time wore trousers in the American Congress. In 1989, Rabbeca Morgan was the first woman senator of California state who wore pants in a U.S. state senate. In 1961, Andre Courege, the well-known french fashion designer of the time, began to design jeans for women.

During the fist world war, British women, while their husbands were away from home, used to wear their husbands' trousers not only because they could perform their outdoor activities more facilely in these, but for another reason as well. Since the government rationed clothing for its citizens those days, women could thus save their clothing allowance to spend on something else. In the late 1960s, women could be seen dressed in bell bottomed trousers---mostly jeans with chiffon blouses and polo-necked sweaters. A new trend, called unisex, was seen in those days, and that was of wearing same kind of clothing by both men and women. The young generation, whether boys or girls, used to wear blue denim and T-shirts.

French women joined the workforce of their country after the revolution. They demanded permission from the government to wear trousers. The government advised them to ask the local police to let them wear pants. That was, in a way, to keep women confined to homes. In 1896 and 1902, though modifications were made in the French law allowing women to put on trousers if they were riding the horse back or bicycle,yet that law had not much practical effects. In 1946, despite despite the fact that women had been declared equal to men in the French constitution, the French common law was not giving women the freedom to wear pants. Nonetheless, women frequently violated the law and kept on wearing trousers at public places. At last, in 2012, with the efforts of the French minister for woman's rights, Najjat Vallaud Belkasen, The French parliament declared that women are not forbidden to wear trousers.

In 1961, with the erection of the Great Berlin Wall, everything or concept belonging to the west was strictly prohibited on the other side of the Iron Curtain. A girl of East Germany asked her father to buy her a Levi's jeans. Her father refused to do so; she escaped to west Berlin and was accommodated in a refugee camp. As soon as she was given her first monthly stipend, she rushed to the market and bought for herself a pair of blue jeans. The Soviet government had banned the import and sale of Levi's jeans in the Socialist block countries. Shortly after the disintegration of the USSR, a 24 year old Russian school teacher, Larisa Popik, ordred a Levi's jeans for her. Putting it on for the first time, she expressed her feelings in these words: wearing my Levis, I feel to be a 15 years old girl.


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