- Bloomers were designed, in 1850, by Mrs. Elizabeth Smith Miller, who also was the first to wear them. But this garment got its biggest impetus and its name from Amelia Bloomer, who dressed frequently in this attire and was its most consistent advocate.Amelia Bloomer (1818-1894), born Amelia Jenks in Homer, New York, was the editor of a journal in Seneca, New York, titled The Lily, the house organ of the Seneca Falls Ladies' Temperance Society. Amelia had always been something of a maverick. For example, she had the word obey omitted from her marriage vows when she married Dexter C. Bloorner in 1840. When Amelia learned about the costume that ultimately memorialized her, she wrote about it in The Lily and described it as "sanitary attire."In 1849, in New York, Amelia introduced this attire by wearing it at the lectures she gave and on other occasions, despite the derision of many onlookers. Amelia wrote that the upper part of the costume should follow the wearer's taste, but below "we would have a skirt reaching down to nearly half way between the knee and the ankle, and not made quite so full as is the present fashion. Underneath this skirt, trousers moderately full (in fair, mild weather) coming down to the ankle (not instep) and there gathered in with an elastic band. . . . For winter, also wet weather, the trousers also full, but coming down into a boot, which shall rise some three or four inches at least above the ankle." Mrs. Bloomer's fashion was charged with immodesty. She rebutted with, "If delicacy requires that the skirt be long, why do ladies, a dozen times a day, commit the indelicacy of raising their dresses, which have already been sweeping the side-walks, to prevent their dragging in the mud of the streets? Surely a few spots of mud added to the refuse of the side-walks, on the hem of their garment, are not to be compared to the charge of indelicacy to which the display they make might subject them!"The garment stirred a hubbub, with sides taking strong viewpoints. Some ministers forbade their congregations to wear bloomers in church. One cited Deuteronomy 22:5 to show that women are forbidden to wear men's clothing. Bloomer's quick retort was, "Really, there was no distinction in the fig leaves worn by Adam and Eve."
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.