What to wear on vacation? The high summer issue of Vogue Pattern Book in 1948 tackled this very question. It presented four different holiday scenarios—a weekend at the shore, a week on a ranch, a two weeks’ cruise, and a month in the mountains. Each of the travelers got her own set of Amelia Earhart luggage (it came in many colors), a signature silk scarf, a handbag, and a few other accessories. Otherwise the mood was very different for each destination. The woman off for a weekend at the shore got a bathing suit for each day. The lucky cruise traveler had many more fancy dresses than outfits to enjoy the sun. The mountaineer apparently had little time for hiking; she got to take several dresses, one tennis outfit, and one play suit, but no hiking clothes.
And only the woman heading for a ranch got to wear pants. The editors apparently believed that a ranch holiday had a masculine flavor. While all the other women traveled with brightly colored luggage—red, emerald green, and even turquoise—this one had an ordinary brown set. Her bag and belt were also brown and her shoes decidedly utilitarian.
Our traveler looks positively boyish in her tailored shirt and cuffed shorts. The pattern for overalls might have been modeled from work outfits devised during the war years. And of course, no ranch visit would have been complete without a modified cowboy get up, here a pair of gabardine pants and a man-tailored shirt. The shirts and overalls went up to size forty, and the pants were cut for a waist measurement of 25 to 34.
It doesn’t surprise me that pants and overalls were deemed fit for the ranch. Women had been heading to dude ranches in jeans since at least the 1920s. But why no pants for mountain hikes? And hadn’t Vogue editors seen those fabulous pictures of Marlene Dietrich in pants on a cruise, taken well over a decade before?