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Betty Jo's Valentines

  • Rooster
    These are valentines from my mother's childhood scrapbook, "Betty Jo" Halloran. They were sent and received, from her siblings, grandparents, cousins, and friends, from 1929 to 1938, in Fargo, North Dakota, and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Please enjoy them with my love. xoxo, Susie

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November 13, 2007



I was in second grade, and I wore a pair of corduroy pants with matching vest that I sewed myself. Oh my god, how can that be? I know I had help from my mom but I definitely felt proud of that outfit because I picked the rust-colored fabric and sewed it myself. It even had a lining. wow. I did that at seven? that's hard to believe.

Anyway, I wore the outfit to school and one of the rich girls who didn't usually talk to poor kids with homemade clothes like me said "Can we wear pants now?" It had never occurred to me that I couldn't wear pants to school. I wore them anyway, and the next year, just as you say, there was an announcement that girls could wear pants (no jeans). thank you for bringing this memory back to me.

Later, I sewed skirts and dresses for the reasons you give. You've sparked another memory, a sad one from junior high, post the development of my hips. Involving a zipper and thin blue cotton that couldn't take a third ripping out.

skirts! skirts! skirts! That's where joy lives, for so many reasons. Yards of fabric, easy to sew, pretty swishing, and hands that slide up and inside--oops, that's your other blog.


Susie Bright

I love talking to women my age who remember, without exception, the day we came to school in pants for the first time. It really was that big of a deal!


I remember the first time I wore pants to school. The year was 1969 and I was a seven-year-old second grader.

We were in the midst of the first big, cold winter storm of that school year. I had dressed in my heaviest skirt, a full set of underwear top and bottom. my thickest cable-knit tights, a turtleneck jersey shirt, a cardigan sweater and my heaviest coat. I wore rubber boots with fake fleece linings on my feet and was nearly swept off the front porch by the hurricane force wind as soon as I stepped outside. I slogged across the muddy driveway and out into the road when the bus went by to go down the road and pick up the Stone sisters, the only people on the bus before me. With chattering teeth and blue lips I clung to the mailbox across the roadto keep from being blown into the ditch behind me.

My father watched this scene from the livingroom window and called me back into the house. I did as I was told and when I got inside he had retreived a pair of my pants and told me to put them on. My mother told him that it was against the dress code for me to wear pants to school. He said he didn't care because it was a bad rule and sent me out just in time to get onto the bus-- in pants.

When I got to school there was a big scene with the other girls and then I was taken out of my classroom and made to wait in the office while my parents were called to bring me a skirt. My parents came and there was a rather tense discussion in the principal's office after which I was taken home.

The next day more pants, more sitting in the office. My father told the principal that I would return to school when I was allowed to wear practical clothing for the weather, or the seasons changed, whichever came first. My first taste of civil disobedience.

There were more pants and lots of discussion about my being the only girl wearing pants in school. The girls ostracised me and the boys ignored me. There was much discussion in my classroom about there being a huge difference between my slacks and the salwaar kameez worn by the Indian girls. Indian girls were allowed to wear salwaar kameez because it was a "cultural difference."

Unbeknownst to me there was much discussion with the school board at the local level, and then with the county schools office and finally with the California State Board of Education. It was determined that it was an unenforceable rule and the school had to allow me and any other girl who wished to wear pants. The next year the high school and schools in the next town and, apparently everywhere else, were allowed to wear pants. No jeans, of course. Then girls started wearing denim slacks made by their mothers or older sisters and the following year they had to allow jeans.

For a long time pants were still frowned upon at a lot of events. Even in the late 70s girls still had to wear dresses for school music concerts and the like.

Even today it is still assumed that women will wear dresses to formal events.

I enjoy wearing dresses now-- unless I'm cold!


If I could title my reply, it would be "The Problem With Skirts".

I'm an unabashed pants wearer. To the point that the rare occasions I *do* wear a skirt, people think the world is coming to an end.

You said you can't look good in pants. Yeah, there's all that tailoring, tailoring that I think only works if you're skinny. Forget about trying to find pants that fit to your individual body while both standing and sitting if you've got curves.

I'm often times wearing men's pants, because I like those big goth/raver/cyberpunk pants with all the buckles and chains and stuff, and they seem to only make them in men's sizes. And I have to admit, my ass looks DAMN good in them. In fact, my favorite pair of pants for my ass was a regulation pair of army fatigues. The way they hugged my ass combined with the styling in the crotch and ass area just made my ass look big and round and juicy and fantastic.

I'm also a big fan of cargo pants & khakis. I never wear jeans if I can get away with it. (Everyone wears jeans. Why not be different?)

But here's the problem with skirts. I have voluptuous thighs. Thick and creamy. And when I walk, they rub together. I know this is not merely my curse, as many women, and quite a few men, have the same problem.

With pants, they glide right past each other. But in skirts, they stick and feel funny as hell. I can't stand that feel. Anytime I wear a skirt, I have to wear exercise shorts underneath. (Pantyhose? Eww. And one big size does NOT fit all fat chicks, thx.) I need something there. And it can't just be little built in shorts, like I see they do at Torrid (plus size store). Those don't give you any coverage... all they do is get in the way if you want to have some fun in that short little "schoolgirl" skirt.

Another issue is the hem line at the bottom. I've got some junk in my trunk, as mentioned above. This changes the hemline in the back so that it's not even with the front... it rises. I hate that.

There's also the problem with straight skirts not fitting right. As I know you know, different women carry their curves in different ways and different places. I wish clothing manufacturers would figure that out. The more curves you have, the more variation in where they're carried. And the more likely your skirt won't fit right.

Oh, and have I mentioned having to "sit like a lady" in skirts? There's a reason when I *do* wear skirts, I only wear long ones that reach the floor. My sitting stance is that of a guy... wide legged. (Part of it does have to do with those thick thighs of mine. It's hard to cross your legs comfortably like that, except at the ankles.) But in short skirts, you have to sit all "proper" and "demure". Not only do I find it annoying and feminizing in a bad way ("Sit like a lady, dear." "But what if I don't WANT to be a lady?!"), it's also a pain to only be able to sit in 1 way. Not to mention I'm always forgetting. I'm just not COMFORTABLE sitting with my legs shoved firmly together, as if I need to protect my sex from intruders. Screw that.

When I do wear skirts (we're talking out of the bedroom here), they're usually one of those hippy-esque "broomstick" style skirts, light and freeflowing, roomy and comfortable. And, honestly, I don't think they do a thing for my ass. They make it look big w/o making it look shapely and nice. It's just this THING that's OUT THERE, to paraphrase Sir Mix-a-Lot.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. I know lots of women look fantastic in skirts (and you hit it right on when you mentioned guys in kilts... oh, DROOL)... maybe it's just me? I doubt it, considering I'm certainly not the only fat chick around. :-)

Susie Bright

Oh goodie, more comments!

To Calichef: Reading your story, I realize, for the first time, that all of us California girls in 1969 had the same breakthrough on the same day. I never did hear the background, which you explained so well. Did you resent your dad for the "pants showdown" at the time, or were you thrilled? I agree with his outrage, but it sure can be difficult to be a parent's "tool" for the revolution!

Ah, Miss "Life's Too Short for Skirts"! You have an excellent rebuttal; I'm going to show it to my editor at Craft, who I first wrote this story for.

First thing I would say is that this story is written with the home sewer in mind. The tailoring required to make those cute mens pants you describe is A LOT harder than the dressmaking tricks to devise you a nicelooking skirt.

Notice I said nice LOOKING. In sewing, I could make certain that your skirt flows over your ass nicely, has an attractive hemline, and allows you to sit comfortably and look swell. Those alternations are a WALK IN THE PARK compared to tailoring pants.

And make no mistake, those men's trousers you enjoy are tailored, they are the product of a lot of labor. I'm thrilled you found the brands/styles that do you right. If you ever make you own pairs, in fact, USE YOUR FAVORITE trousers, the ready to wear ones, as your basic pattern for the front rise, the back rise, everything.

Okay, the thighs rubbing together thing. Good point.

What I suggest, and I wear these too, even though I have inconsequential thighs, are leggings... soft, cotton lycra leggings. I sometimes wear shorter ones, or cut off longer ones, or I wear boots, or I just let the leggings show.

Obviously pantyhose are unbearable. I like some cotton-lycra tights, like EG Smith.... oh my god, have you BEEN to They have the best tights and size selection I've ever seen in my life.


So I just went to and looked at their tights.

And it confirmed what I've been realizing as I've been looking for tights over the past few weeks.

They don't make tights for fat chicks.

The high end on those tights were between 160-175 lbs. I'm 5'1" and 215 lbs. I wear it rather well. (At very least, my partners seem to like it.) But companies don't make tights for people my size. (I guess it must be the whole fatphobic "fat people shouldn't wear spandex" thing.) I've looked all over for fun tights (like those space dyed ones or the ones with the skulls on them) in sizes that will fit me. No luck. Hell, you can't buy ANY tights, fun or plain, in my size. When I go to stores, even sock stores that are supposed to have everything, and ask for tights for people my size, they just shake their heads at me. Sometimes they point to the "plus size" section, which only have a few rather icky pantyhose in those tacky packages with euphemisms about "double queen sized" and crap like that. (I find talking around fat in the way that retailers do to be more insulting of my body than people who just admit that, ya know, we're fat. [It's not an insult or a 4 letter word. Our society has forgotten that.])

Leggings for fat chicks. Yup, that's what I want. (After that, I'll work on getting them to realize that not all fat chicks are tall, and have them make petite plus sized leggings, but I'm not holding my breath.)

Silly question, but can one buy the material and make their own leggings?


My clever mother got me a medical excuse to wear pants in first, second, and third grades. Because I had my appendix out in first grade--and nobody seemed to question her logic. Pants were allowed, and only for me. Some of the other girls were jealous--but I hated it! I felt so deprived to be the only girl who "had" to wear pants! by fourth grade, I rebelled and never wore pants again until I was in college and it was the '60s, and women all wore jeans! My mother was astonished at my reaction--here she thought she was doing me a great favor, because when she was a girl, she hated wearing dresses! (and beside, she hated ironing, and in the '50's, all dresses had to be ironed!))

Kiru Banzai

Sock Dreams makes me sad. I'm a size 6, 130 lbs, and I couldn't even get a pair of their thigh-high socks over my calves. And if it sucks for me, I'm sure as hell it sucks for my larger sisters out there.


I was born in 1966. So pants were always allowed. I mostly wear pants these days for reasons similar to c4bl3fl4m3. In fact, at the moment, I'm wearing 4x Danskin ankle-length leggings under my red poly-cotton drawstring pants as I ready myself to walk to the bus. (Why do I take the bus? Because it makes me walk.)

So yes, leggings can be found. But the dainty shoes I like to wear with skirts get really old during the walking part of my commute. So I wear my New Balance all-black walking shoes and pants. And my new white coat from Making It Big and red hat for visibility :)

Susie Bright

I feel like I have to go back to SockDreams and rub my eyes. I am 5'10" and 190, and so you can imagine, I do not fit "one-size" or most of those maddeningly cute tights and hose they make in petite sizes. But SockDreams DOES have huge, big, fat, tall tights, because I've bought them there! they have the extra big EGSmith, and they have these awesome extralarge striped tights. Have they discontinued them? I bet not!

I want to see JenK's big new white coat! I am going over to that site immediately!

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