Pants! Thank You, Hillary Matzinger


In tenth grade, Hillary Matzinger walked into my English class wearing jeans. No girl wore pants to Towson High School, much less jeans. Mrs. Rhydburg turned Hillary into the office. I’ve wondered to this day why our teacher, younger and a woman herself, felt the need to rat on Hillary.

I don’t remember what transpired next, but by the end of the week, more girls wore pants to school. Soon I did.Thanks to my mom for having no objections.  (Although she did finally hide the baggy blue work shirts I took to wearing with my jeans.)

Our bus stops in Baltimore were freezing cold in the winter. It’s shocking to me now that anyone forced girls to wait for the bus when they were wearing skirts. Even heavy tights couldn’t block the wind.


On to Helen Hulick, in the photo above. In 1938, Helen wore pants to court, was sent away, and returned another day wearing pants again. She was a 28-year-old kindergarten teacher who had witnessed a burglary. On her second court appearance, Helen was taken to jail and put in a prison dress. Although she was sentenced to a five day stay, she was released later that day.

Hundreds wrote letters in defense of Helen’s right to wear pants.  You can read more of the story here.

Thank you Hillary and thank you Helen, for giving a kick in the pants to the powers that be!

Thanks, too, to Amelia Bloomer, who gave  bloomer-like outfits attention in the press in the mid-1880s. Read about Amelia here.


What about you? When did you first wear pants to school?

Read more about the history of women and pants here.