Suffragettes – like modern feminists – had more than one political agenda, though their main push was to get women the right to vote. It may seem strange in this era of blue jeans for everyone, but once upon a time, a woman in trousers was considered a shocking event. Suffragettes were also fighting against restrictive fashions rules. Like … women’s clothing had no pockets! No breeches allowed! They had to wear too many layers of clothing when exercising.
As the Suffragettes grew in numbers, they began wearing an outfit referred to as the ‘Suffragette Suit’. Thus was basically a divided skirt complete with pockets, a high-collared blouse and a long fitted coat with buttons (and more pockets); often these were dark-coloured to impress onlookers with the seriousness of their cause. The three-coloured sash was worn over the top of the coat and a dark coat would have helped make the sash stand out in vivid contrast. As hats were the fashion for both men and women, most suffragettes wore hats. Sensible shoes were a necessity, for marching and running. Hat pins were useful in defending a woman from men with grabby hands – even policemen. Hat pins over 9 inches were outlawed in London, because of this.
The Steampunk Suffragette should take these influences into consideration when designing a cosplay outfit. A Steampunk Suffragette can be young or old, as women of all ages were part of the movement. Writers in the genre should see these women as they were – activists committed body and soul to their cause. These weren’t sweet, easily-flustered women like Mrs Banks in the Disney version of Mary Poppins; suffragettes were prepared to die for their cause if they had to. They were considered by their governments to be just as radical and dangerous as the civil rights protesters of the Sixties and Seventies.