The Easter Girl of 1897: Prefers her tandem bicycle and driving coaches to a bonnet.

1897 Easter Amusements

The Easter Girl of 1897

The Easter girl of ’97 will not be a mere clothes horse for the display of the art of the modiste, nor will she be a dummy for carrying a milliner’s creation. Good clothes she will doubtless have, but by far her greatest attention will be paid to the outdoor possibilities of Easter Day and to the costumes which she, as a modern Diana, may wear.

          The Easter girl of ten years ago possessed a new silk gown and a flower hat, and in that she was content to pass Easter between church and “the avenue.” But the Easter girl of this year will take off the silk and the flowers after church and get ready to enjoy God’s air and God’s sunshine with the health which the good God has given her. She will enjoy these in as many new ways as the thought and art of man have been able to invent for her.

          Her newest “trick” is with the automobile carriage. This nice little arrangement is for the mannish young woman who likes to drive herself, but whose parents and friends are afraid of the high steppers for her. The automobile satisfies the needs of both. It is “sporty” enough to satisfy the girl who wants to look very chic, and it is safe enough for anybody.

In Paris, where things travel proverbially slow for woman’s advancement, they have the automobile on the Bois constantly and daily. The prettiest of American women propel the carriages and the fattest faced of little French grooms sit alongside. In America there are a few of these, and many are promised for Easter.

          But the girl who enjoys herself most in the outdoor sports of this spring is certainly the bicycle girl. Now that the ban is removed from the wearing of bloomers, she can put on the little checked trousers, jump on the wheel and ride until every nerve tingles and her cheeks are red with fun. The Eastern girl of ’97 will ride a tandem.

          The thing is to form yourself into a tandem club, the membership being limited to two. The different “clubs” band together into a “league,” and there you have the newest fashioned of women’s clubs. Each “club” has its own uniforms, and the entire “league,” composed of forty or more tandem “clubs,” wears the same hat. By this mark they are recognizable. Most of them wear bloomers. But it is a strange fact, and one illustrating the perversity of the feminine mind that, now that the bloomer ban is removed and there is no objection to the wearing of bloomers, few women cry for them. The forbidden fruit was much more tempting than the freely proffered article. There isn’t the same novelty and naughtiness about the bloomer now and women are discovering how unbecoming it is.

          The horseback young women are becoming so very progressive that they ride a double-sided saddle. This is a strange little affair made for fitting any saddle. You ride out ten miles to a “riders’ retreat,” stop for luncheon, adjust your saddle, and ride back on a different side of the horse. You can ride either right or left.

          For this improvement thanks must be given the bicycle. Physicians discovered, or thought they discovered, that it was unhealthful to ride always on one side, though heaven knows no woman rides enough to hurt herself on the sidesaddle, and hence the either-sided affair. This is, after all, very nice, as it gives one a change; and a change is something the Easter girl of ’97 must and will have.


There is the strangest Easter fad in the air among the girls of this Easter. You know the old stages that used to perambulate through the streets—do now on certain old thoroughfares—well, they are chartering these carry-alls for Easter expeditions. The game is to invite your friends, fill the “box seat” with eatables, gather up one and all by calling at the door about 2 o’clock, then drive away to the spot where the earliest and biggest Easter violets grow. Of course the girl who charters the caboose and gives the Easter party does the driving. That is part of the Easter program.

          There will be some very nice Easter coaching tours among those who own the coaches. The start is made after luncheon, after the Easter music has been heard, and the stay, if the men can get an Easter vacation, is over Easter Monday. The woman here does the driving also.         

So determined is the Easter woman to spend the first recognized day of spring out of doors that modistes and shopkeepers are bowing to her will. They are furnishing the finest of athletic out-door costumes, fine enough to tempt the caramel and novel-reading woman from her couch and to lure her out into the parks to show the gowns if not to enjoy herself.

Wheeling [WV] Register 4 April 1897: p. 13

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:

In 1891, the Rt. Rev. Arthur Cleveland Coxe, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, condemned women bicycle-riders, tactlessly stating that they resembled witches on broomsticks. He also objected to what he believed to be the indecorous posture of ladies on the wheel.

Speaking of Bishop Coxe’s objection to women on bicycles, the Boston Herald says: “The Bishop does not appear to understand that the bicycle is not equipped with a side saddle, and that riding astride is the only way to promulgate this interesting vehicle.” We ought not to be surprised, perhaps, if the Boston woman rides astride [or man-fashion as it was called]  a bicycle, but if so she is lonely among her sex in that accomplishment. The women’s bicycles we have seen are provided simply with a seat, and they are no more required to ride astride than sit astride on an ordinary chair. If the good Bishop thinks that women straddle a bicycle as men do theirs he should request some fair Buffalonian to explain to him the difference. Rochester Herald. The Gogebic Advocate [Ironwood, MI] 11 July 1891: p. 2

 Mrs Daffodil wishes her readers a very happy Easter, whether upon the wheel or at the reins of a coach–or with a box of chocolate cremes and a novel.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


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