Enter your email address below and subscribe to our newsletter

Every Woman Needs a Hero

I remember when there was a double standard for men and women’s fashion. But women have won that battle…

I grew up in an era when there was a forbidden fashion list for female students: No trousers, slacks, pants, capris or jeans. This was the 1950s, a time when women only wore dresses or skirts.

How frustrated my female classmates and I were because we had to abide by such strict rules, while a breakthrough in fashion was happening elsewhere. Tailored slacks and capri pants were stylish and in fashion for women. I can still see my mom admiring photos of the actress, Katharine Hepburn wearing trousers in public. My mom, too, longed to wear pants, but no one wore them where we lived.

Then during the late 1950s and early 1960s, jeans were also the rage for both women and men, mainly due to James Dean and Marlon Brando popularizing them on movie screens and in fan magazines.

When I entered high school, the silent pants rebellion had begun. During that time, I soon discovered I had a hero, my Home Economics teacher.

When I entered the Home Economics classroom for the first time, I was amazed the room was divided into two sections. On the right side of the room were two long brown wooden rectangular tables and chairs in lieu of desks, facing a large blackboard and flanked by two cork bulletin boards, and lining the back wall was the teacher’s desk, an oblong wall mirror, and two sewing machines with matching benches. On the left side of the room were two small modern kitchens set-up for teaching cooking and baking.

Once we were seated at the tables, a smiling face greeted us, “Hello class, my name is Mrs. B. Welcome to Home Ec.,” she said as she passed out textbooks and flyers listing upcoming assignments and projects. The class entailed the life skills for becoming homemakers, how to set the table correctly, fundamentals of how to cook, preparing meals, and sewing for the family and the home.

While Mrs. B proceeded with the introduction to Home Ec., I admired her style. She wore black leather high heeled shoes, black dangle earrings that matched three chunky black bangle bracelets in vogue at the time, a white silk short sleeved blouse, and a light gray pencil slim mid-calf length skirt. However, the skirt was different than any skirt I’d ever seen. There was no zipper closure in the back or on the side of the skirt, it fastened in the front.

Mrs. B concluded the Home Ec. presentation with a personal anecdote about the special pencil skirt she was wearing. “It was a college project. I designed the pattern and made the skirt from a pair of my father’s pleated herringbone tweed trousers. Check out this hidden front zipper placket,” she said proudly, “I received an ‘A’ for the assignment.”

I marveled at her cleverness and creativity, what sweet revenge, Mrs. B was wearing trousers, and no one was the wiser.

In my senior year, our class presented a three-act comedy called, “Shoot the Works” during the coldest time of year, mid-March. Play rehearsals were held from February through mid-March. The school furnace was no match for the bitter cold on the stage and the rehearsal area. Rehearsal attire for female students: heavy coats, gloves, hats, heavy socks, shoes or boots. Rehearsal attire for male students was the same, with one exception…they were allowed to wear jeans. My female classmates and I pleaded to be able to wear jeans to keep our legs warm, but the pleas fell on deaf ears.

Suddenly, Mrs. B came to our rescue. She helped put all objections aside, and a compromise was made. In lieu of jeans for female students, corduroy pants were added to our dress code for after school activities.

How I loved my gray corduroy pants, they kept me warm and I was stylish.

There was no looking back…thanks to Mrs. B, the pants rebellion was over, and pants prevailed. Granted, this was a small victory during my youth, but it was just the beginning. Every woman needs a hero like Mrs. B.


  1. Wonderful article! Your Mrs. B. was definitely a path cutter. My “Mrs. B” was an art teacher in HS. I’m very thankful for our heros!

  2. Mrs. B was a favorite of mine too.
    In my first year at Alexandria, I took my first ride down the sliding board.
    I held on to the rails on the ride down and a splinter sewed its way across my whole palm.
    It slid in and out three or four times. Mrs. B was the one that removed it.
    She cut the splinter at each place that was above the skin and pulled each part out.
    Thanks for including me in your post.

  3. I remember wearing pants to school under my skirt to keep warm while waiting for the bus. But, of course, I had to remove them as soon as we got to school.
    Enjoyed your essay. Brought back memories! Thank goodness for those women who rebelled!!

  4. My home economics teacher was a little snobby. I took sewing lessons at the Singer Sewing store. The women there were my inspiration. I learned from Georgia is that there are great inspirational people out there. Search for them. Never give up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *