Older Women in Pants, Bonner Montana

University of Montana Library. Click to enlarge

University of Montana Library. Click to enlarge

This photo comes from the University of Montana, via the Digital Public Library of America.  Note that all the women, from young to old, are in pants.  We know a lot about the snapshot, including the location (Bonner, Montana), the photographer (Jack Demmons), and the names of some of the people. Unfortunately there is no date and nothing to tell us just what was going on. Did these women typically dress in pants, or was there some special event that inspired their outfits?

While the younger women in the photo are in jeans, the two older ones in glasses are wearing coordinated pants outfits, called “slacks suits,” that were popular during World War Two.

University of Wisconsin digital media. Click to enlarge

University of Wisconsin digital media. Click to enlarge

Such an outfit is on display in this photo of a department store window in Manitowoc, Wisconsin in 1942, certainly evidence that such styles were in wide distribution.



They also might have sewn their own, made possible by this 1942 Simplicity pattern.

I have always associated slack suits with younger women, perhaps because they were fashion forward at the time.  But this photo is evidence older women also saw the practicality of these new styles.  While the outfits were most likely bought or made during World War Two, this photo might be from after the war.  Note that the top worn by the woman on the right doesn’t fit that well anymore.


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3 Responses to Older Women in Pants, Bonner Montana

  1. Lizzie says:

    I love how the younger woman in jeans looks a bit uncomfortable. I wish we could see her shoes. It’s interesting that the jeans were made in a larger size to fit her. I’ve read that bigger women had to resort to wearing men’s pants, but these, with the side buttons, are clearly made for a woman.

  2. Lynn says:

    You know, it looks to me she cut off the top of a pair of overalls.

  3. Jen O says:

    Most of all in this photo I love the typical teenage mocking of the photo session by the partially concealed but fashionably dressed girl on the porch.
    The large size pants are interesting. It’s possible that they were made at home. Many rural locations had sewing courses, and the land grant colleges such as Montana State College in Bozeman had Home Economics programs that were teaching pattern making too.

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