Monday, May 21, 2012

Evelyn Cameron Scandalizes Miles City

Photographer Evelyn Cameron is a recent inductee into the Gallery of Outstanding Montanans in the state’s Capitol. Evelyn was born in England and raised to be a proper English lady. But once she created a real scandal. Evelyn’s husband was a noted ornithologist and naturalist, but he didn’t care much for their ranch. That was all right with Evelyn who enjoyed the physical work. Chores and most everything from making bread to milking cows and working the horses fell to her. She took to wearing a divided riding skirt that allowed her to ride astride rather than sidesaddle. The long skirt was much like modern culottes. Victorian women, however, did not wear pants. And when Evelyn first rode into Miles City in the dark blue divided skirt she had ordered from California, oh, the scandal it caused. Although the skirt was so full it looked like an ordinary dress when she was on foot, on horseback the division was obvious. Law enforcement warned her not to ride on the streets in town or she might be arrested. But town was forty-eight miles from her ranch, and riding sidesaddle could only be done on a very slow and gentle horse. Evelyn would not ride what she called old “dead heads.” She became convinced that riding in a man’s saddle stride-legged was the only safe way for a woman to ride. Before long, other women took to the divided skirt and it became an accepted way of dressing not only for women on the streets of Miles City, but also on homesteads, farms, and ranches across Montana.

Montana Historical Society Photograph Archives, PAc 90-87.80-2
One of the Buckley sisters of eastern Montana dismounting, wearing an Evelyn Cameron–designed split skirt, 1914. Click the photo for a bigger version.

P.S. Remember Dillon's fashion scandal?

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