The Jenness-Miller Magazine Dress, Vol II, Jan-Feb, probably 1888. Page 181. “Rational Dress” Underwear for Women.
The Jenness-Miller Magazine Dress, Vol. II, Jan-Feb, probably 1888. “Rational Dress” Underwear for Women, p. 182.
Annie Jenness-Miller was a strong advocate for “Rational Dress” for women, and, with her sister, Mabel Jenness, wrote and published her own magazine, called Dress, probably beginning in 1887. [The title and dating of early issues was erratic, but I am assuming that, since Volume 4 began with January of 1890, Volume 2, January-February dates to 1888. The masthead of Volume II offered “the entire first volume of Dress, thirteen numbers” for seventy-five cents plus postage. By January 0f 1890, the dating clearly was established, and most pages were numbered.]
Several years ago, I was selling a bound volume of Jenness-Miller’s Dress for a friend. It included January-February of “Volume II,” and January through June of of Volume IV. At the time I had no idea of blogging, so I did not label my photos with year, month and page number. I just tried to photograph “selling points.”
Recently a scholar tracked me down and asked for more specific information. When I checked my photo files, I realized that, because I had photographed all the Tables of Contents, I could reconstruct Volume numbers, pages and dates for many items.
As often happens with the internet — at least to me — I find something online, and then discover, months or years later, that I can’t get the same search results a second time. I thought that this underwear article by Annie Jenness-Miller had been posted online in its entirety — but now I can’t find it, so, for the benefit of scholars, I’m reprinting it. And, since WordPress seems to lose files bigger than 500 dpi on the longest side after I post them, I have reprinted the text and pictures from those two pages shown at the top of this post, but broken them up into legible segments.
Here is the article “Underwear for Women,” from The Jenness-Miller Magazine Dress, Vol. II, Jan-Feb, (probably 1888,) pp. 181-82. [Added 8/19/16: You can also find the article, in full page photos that can be enlarged to readable scale, at witness2fashion.com. ]
Jenness-Miller Union Suit, from Underwear for Women, Jan-Feb 1888 Dress Magazine,, p. 181.
Jenness-Miller Chemilette, from “Underwear for Women,” Jan-Feb 1888 Dress Magazine, p.181.
Jenness-Miller Turkish Leglettes, or Divided Petticoat, from Underwear for Women, Jan-Feb 1888 Dress Magazine, p. 182.
Jenness-Miller Model Bodice, from “Underwear for Women,” Jan-Feb 1888 Dress Magazine, p. 182. A slightly different model bodice appears here.
Last paragraphs of “Underwear for Women” article, Dress, page 182.
[I don’t know how a woman wearing a “Union Suit,” under a “Chemilette,” under “Turkish Leglettes,” manages to go to the bathroom. Journalistic standards of the day may have prevented discussing this. In a different article [March 1890, page 136] Jenness-Miller felt the need to remind her readers that many women “would be shocked to use the strong, refined, and proper term, leg” so explaining the convenience of drop flaps and buttoned crotches may have been impossible. The Jenness-Miller garments do not appear to be crotchless, as many ladies’ bloomers were.]
Annie-Jenness Miller wrote frequent editorials in Dress, extolling her patterns and expounding her theories. She believed that women needed to exercise to develop graceful, healthy bodies that would not need the support of corsets, and her magazine published regular articles on “Physical Culture.”
A typical illustration from Jenness-Miller’s articles on Physical Culture for women. Dress, circa 1888-1890.
“By freeing and bringing into action the muscles at the waist renewed life is given to all bodily functions.”
She also realized that most women would like to wear comfortable and practical clothing, but without looking noticeably out of fashion, so many of her patterns look very similar to chic clothing of the day. This is “the Helene” (her dress patterns were often given names, rather than numbers, like couture.)
Although part of the Rational Dress movement, “The Helene” costume even had a vestigial bustle. From Jenness-Miller’s Dress magazine, Jan. 1890, p. 41.
Miller did not want her customers to be ridiculed, as women who wore 1850’s “Bloomer” clothing had been. Jenness-Miller’s followers wore her petticoat replacement, “Turkish leglettes,” under their dress — invisibly — rather than wearing a divided dress — except for really strenuous sports, like mountain climbing. Below, Jenness-Miller “Outing Costumes” from April 1890 are — from left to right — “For Geologists and Mountain Climbing,” “Riding Habit,” “Yachting,” and “Lawn Tennis.”
Jenness-Miller costumer for Mountain climbing, riding, yachting, and lawn tennis, from Dress, April 1890.
I’ll publish another of her complete articles later, but for now, if you want to know more about Annie Jenness-Miller and Dress, I recommend these sites:
Annie Jenness Miller: Dress Reform, from Dress, 1888
Dress Improvement, by Mrs. Jenness Miller, in A Celebration of Women Writers
Aesthetic Dress (for an overview of 19th century dress reform movements, with a useful bibliography)
and, of course, The Vintage Traveler’s post about Mrs. Jenness-Miller, where you will see bigger images and more quotations.
Incidentally, one reason it’s hard to find articles about Jenness-Miller online is that hyphen! Search both with and without it.