Friday, July 9, 2010

In History: Bloomer Club Cigar

This is the 33rd post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

"Bloomer Club Cigars": A somewhat silly 1890's cigar box lid which combines a number of incongruous elements in a way that would have been mildly titillating to males of the 1890's. At that time, it had only very recently become acceptable for women to wear knickerbockers or (skirtless) "bloomers" in a few strictly limited contexts, such as bicycle-riding and gymnastics; thus the bicycles in the upper and lower left corners and the gymnastic clubs in the upper right corner.

This cigar-box label goes far beyond reality (indulging in an elaborate social satire and put-on), by imagining that women would wear knickerbockers/bloomers to an elegant social club, and by imagining that such a women's club corresponded to some men's clubs in featuring cigar-smoking, heavy drinking, and athletic activities (thus the fencing foils at center top, and the empty bottles near the dumb-bells at lower right).

The humor is in the rather extreme contrast with the actually-existing decorous and genteel women's clubs of the time, in which firmly-corseted and long-skirted ladies were generally extremely earnest in pursuing goals of social betterment, literary self-improvement, etc.
Those silly women, wearing pants!

(via; higher resolution)

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