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Lady Frances Harberton and the Women of the Rational Dress Society

In 1898 Lady Harberton, was refused entrance to the Hautboy Hotel in Ockham, Surrey. The reason? She was wearing bloomers and a short jacket.

President of the Western Rational Dress Society Florence invented the divided skirt and was also a keen advocat of cycling (the Cyclists Touring Club tried to sue the Hautboy Hotel for refusal to admit but unfortunately lost the case). . The Cheltenham Chronicle reporting the case in April 1899 that when Lady Harberton had started the society it had taken “a great deal of both physical and moral courage even to mention the word bloomers”. Lady Harberton and others of the society spent much time addressing public meetings and giving ‘shows’ of the alternative forms of dress mainly devised by the members of the society themselves.

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