Gene Stratton-Porter was in the forefront of the conservation movement. She was an author photographer, illustrator and movie producer at a time when women did not aspire to have careers.
In 1920, the 19 th Amendment gave women the right to vote. Women’s fashions were drastically changing at this time. Little has been written about Gene’s fashion sense, but it appears that she was a trend setter with her fashion.
Knickerbockers, called knickers for short, became a popular men and boys’ garment in the early 20 th century. By 1920, they were on display in all the smart shops on Fifth Avenue in New York City for women. But many women were wary of wearing them. They saw them as too masculine and a little too radical.
Knickers were advertised as a garment that when worn with accessories can create a “jaunty” look and make the woman who wears them feel young.
One woman who was not afraid to wear knickers was Gene Stratton-Porter. It was reported that in 1922 she wore them for an interview. She thought it was just a matter of time and they would be in vogue. Gene stated, “Among a world of other tardy realizations the world has come to realize that every woman has two legs and that these legs in all probability are proportioned to the remainder of her frame. There is no longer any curiosity concerning legs; they are absolutely prevalent-- -as common as arms or heads. And the world has consented that she may cover them with skirts, breeches, or Turkish trousers, as she pleases.”
With Gene’s nationwide popularity, one can imagine that she helped sell the wearing of knickers to a number of ladies across the country.