During the mid-1900’s, women gained increased protection against job discrimination. In the 1940’s, the U. S. government established a policy of equal pay for equal work. Under this policy, the government forbade businesses with federal contracts to pay a woman less than a man for the same job. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited job discrimination on the basis of sex. In 1972, Congress approved the Equal Rights Amendment. It failed to become law because only 35 of the necessary 38 states approved it by the deadline of June 30, 1982.
The amendment would have guaranteed equal rights for all citizens, regardless of sex. In the 1900’s, women began to wear looser, lighter-weight clothing. The changing styles–especially in leisure and sports clothes–gradually uncovered different parts of women’s bodies. Legs were bared in the 1920’s, abdomens in the 1940’s, and thighs in the 1960’s. Today, women wear less clothing than in any other period since ancient times. For a few years around 1910, women wore hobble skirts. These skirts were so tight at the bottom that a woman could hardly walk.
Clothing became simpler and less formal during World War I (1914-1918). In the 1920’s, women adopted the “boyish” look. Dresses were straight and unfitted, and they ended at, or a little above, the knee. In the 1930’s, some women began wearing slacks. Skirts became longer during the 1930’s and then shorter during the early 1940’s. During World War II (1939-1945), women wore many tailored styles with padded shoulders. Slacks–worn by women working in war industries–also became popular. Women’s fashions changed greatly after World War II. Crinolines and long, full skirts returned.
Nylon garments, including stockings and lingerie (underwear), became available in large quantities. During the 1950’s, straight, tight-fitting sheath dresses and shorter hemlines gained popularity. A-line dresses and loose-fitting shifts came into style during the early 1960’s. The very short miniskirt quickly spread to other countries after it first appeared in England during the mid-1960. From 1900 to 1950, both single-breasted and double-breasted men’s suits were popular. Shoulders were natural (unpadded) about 1910 but gradually became more padded.
During the 1950’s, many men switched to single-breasted Ivy League suits, which had narrow lapels and natural shoulders. They also began wearing collared shirts with business suits. Both men and women developed great fondness for sportswear and wash-and-wear fabrics during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Leisure and sports clothes for women included knee-length Bermuda shorts, tapered slacks, and ski and stretch pants. Men wore Bermuda shorts, slacks, and colourful sport shirts. Improvements in sewing machines and in dress patterns brought an increased interest in sewing.
In the 1960’s, many young men started to wear colourful fashions, many of which included fancy jewellery. They also grew beards and moustaches. During the early 1970’s, men of all ages joined in the change to colourful clothes. They began wearing shirts in checks, stripes, and many colours with business suits. They also wore wide ties in fancy prints, stripes, or bright swirling colours. Men of all ages began growing beards and moustaches. They also began wearing their hair longer than in the 1960’s. Women’s fashions included skirts of every length–from the miniskirt to the maxi skirt, which fell to the ankle.
Many people seemed to have an “anything goes” feeling toward clothing styles. During the 1980’s, men and women’s fashions “softened. ” In the early 1980’s, men wore suits with padded shoulders but a loose fit. By the late 1980’s, suits had natural shoulders and were less formal. Women’s fashions included many options. Women wore slacks, skirts of every length, and sportswear that combined sweaters, jackets, skirts, and dresses. Exercise wear that fit tightly was popular, but so too was oversized, baggy clothing.