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Most bosses not ready for secretaries to wear pants to work (1969)

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Vintage pantsuits - women wearing pants

Vintage pantsuits - women wearing pants

By Patricia McCormack

The move to make women in pants socially acceptable after dark got a boost the other day when a man in New York said: “Yes, women will be admitted in their formal drawers.”

Mark Evans, co-chairman of the inaugural balls in Washington January 20, said it in response to a question from a fashion editor. The question: “What about women? Will they be admitted in pants suits?”

Acceptance of “formal drawers” at the inaugural pageant for the nation’s new President would seem to end all stop signs for pants on women at formal affairs.

Pants on women at the office?

But what about pants on women in the office? Designers pushing pants also want to tumble opposition on that front.

Barriers at the office won’t fall swiftly, according to a survey of women’s editors attending a recent American Press Institute seminar at Columbia University.

They were asked if pants would be accepted in offices in their towns now or in five or in 10 years.

Editors from Burlington, Vt., and Longmont, Colo., said “Yes” to right now. In Chicago, pants would be okay on female office workers “On a zero day”; in Dayton, Ohio, “On Saturdays, evenings or on Sunday”; and in Memphis, “On a woman in a mod business.”

Editors saying bosses would turn thumbs down on pants now and perhaps for as long as 10 years came from Ann Arbor, Pontiac and Saginaw, Mich.; Atlanta, Ga.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Lowell, Mass.; and Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Pants wearers probably would get bawled out right now in 11 of the other cities represented. But in five years, bosses in those cities may be less hostile, the survey showed.

Pantsuit book

Looking five years into the future

The thaw towards women in pants might be expected in half a decade among office managers in Columbia, S.C.; Albany, N.Y.; Denver, Colo.; Memphis, Tenn.; St. Louis, Mo.; Lakeland, Fla.; Norfolk, Va.; Louisville, Ky.; Dubuque, Iowa; and Champaign-Urbana, Ill.

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Most editors said they would permit their fashion writers to wear pants to the office right now. But the notion was nixed by editors from Milwaukee, Pontiac, Lowell, Dubuque, Denver and Champaign-Urbana.

The editor from Denver explained, “I think women should dress distinctively as women. They’ve gone too far in stealing men’s attire.”

And the editor from Hamilton, the only male among seminarians, gave this reason for saying no: “I am a leg man.”

>> Also see: 

Woman in pantsuit from 1970

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