Cowgirl Fashion–More on the Split Skirt

What freedom the cowgirls must have felt with the invention of the split riding skirt. As mentioned before, this was quite controversial and almost caused British-born,Montana photographer Evelyn Cameron to be arrested. Evelyn rode into Miles City one day, wearing a split riding skirt she had made. incensed townswomen gathered with the sheriff and threatened her with jail unless she left town immediately.

But cowgirls were not to be thwarted. They had discovered this fashion as a tool in riding. The newspaper in Havre, MT, August, 1897 reported: “There were six young women who competed in the bronc riding competition. The broncos chosen were as villainous a crew of ponies as ever got together. The riders wore a combination costume of cowboy and bicycler’s wardrobes. There was no pretense about sidesaddles as all the broncos were ridden astraddle. The mix-ups were so lively that it seemed the riders would be reduced to their high heeled boots. Sombreros and whips were lost, the riders’ long hair whipped in the wind, and their clothes had the appearance of having been used as street sweepers But there were no serious rents in garments and not even a scratch on any pretty face.”

Later, in 1904, a Pasadena CA newspaper quoted and equestrian rider, Herma Rupe: “I have learned that the only true way to ride is to ride astride. The ones who object to women riding astride are those who think a woman should ride to be seen and not for her own pleasure.”

And in May 1917, a Los Angeles ad read: “For Sale–Smart riding suits for women that combine utility, comfort and trim style.” By that time, riding in comfort was here to stay.

Published in: on January 17, 2009 at 1:25 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Kind of like the freedom we women got when it became acceptable to wear slacks to work instead of skirts.

    Morgan Mandel

  2. Considering that our legs grant us far more power than our arms, it amazes me that women used to have to ride without the benefit of our legs’ gripping strength.

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