| Browse to Next Essay >
"Dream of a Devotee of Fashion": An essay for the Woman's Century Club Magazine by Emily Inez Denny (1899)
HistoryLink.org Essay 10385
: Printer-Friendly Format
Emily Inez Denny (1853-1918) wrote this tongue-in-cheek essay on the perils of women's clothing to be read to fellow members of the Woman's Century Club. A daughter of Seattle pioneers David (1832-1903) and Louisa Boren Denny (1827-1916), Emily Inez Denny (known as Inez) was an artist and writer. Her book Blazing The Way, published in 1909, recounted her family's Oregon Trail migration from Cherry Grove, Illinois, to Portland, Oregon, and the subsequent founding of Seattle. Denny was a longtime member of the Woman's Century Club, founded in 1891 to promote education, charitable activities, and socialization among its members. The Woman's Century Club Magazine was published annually in 1899 and 1900, and possibly in subsequent years. This article appeared in the Woman’s Century Club Magazine, 1899, found in the Woman's Century Club archives, Seattle.
Dream of a Devotee of Fashion by Emily Inez Denny
Returning to my home after a matinee during the holidays, weary even of pleasure, I removed my duck of a bonnet -- no -- I mean my chicken of a hat, which I will tell you is just too sweet for anything; pulled off carefully my lovely gloves which fit elegantly; loosened and removed my snug, not tight of course, corset and dear little shoes which are a trifle tight, being quite new; hung my new winter suit, with its boned-without-a-wrinkle-basque and sweeping skirt on a convenient chair; donned a loose wrapper and reclined on the sofa, with all my perfectly sweet things around me; but in spite of them I began to doze, and then was lost in slumber, and thus I dreamed. It seems that I had a sudden and violent attack of sanity, and during the same was possessed of a revolt against my darling hat, my “too lovely” corsets, gloves, skirts, shoes, &c., &c., everything! I became excited and addressed them as though they were living creatures instead of inanimate things, something on this wise as I remember; "O long, draggling, dirt-accumulating, microbe-carrying, slime-depositing, dust-distributing, back-breaking, limb-clogging abomination, yclept dress-skirt, get thee hence! or stay, here is a sharp and savage weapon, with one avenging thrust let me sever thee horizontally in twain. There! just neatly over the knee. That will be a vast and inexpressible relief.
As for thee, O miserable misery-maker, murder of mothers and offspring, thou torturer of human vitals, crusher of stomachs, lungs, livers, and other viscera, thou stealer of the roses of youth and the breath of age, O unutterably villainous corset, begone! a-vaunt! quit my sight and let the ruins of the past hide thee!
And ye machines of inquisition, creators of corns, calluses and bunions, ingrowing nails and wobbling gait, I will be your anguished victim no longer! I will go barefoot, or find a foot-covering that is wide, low and easy.
Is it possible also that I have appeared on a public thoroughfare in that huge, heavy and ridiculous agglomeration of fuss, feathers and finery, metal, lace, velvet, dead birds, dots, spots, puffs, wrinkles, crinkles, folds, loops, bows, jet, pearl, brass, steel, green, yellow, lavender, scarlet, pink and purple and crimson, called a perfect love of a hat? Faugh! I will dump it into a scrap-basket, and wear a bicycle cap for a while.
Petticoats, beruffled and laced, loads of dry-goods! the fewer of you the better!
Pinching gloves, bells and collars, go! I must, I will be free!
Gesticulating fiercely, I awoke.
I have occasional lapses into this frame of mind during my waking hours, and may yet institute a much needed reform in clothes, which certainly have their excuse for being, first in their comfort, second in their suitability.
And then -- ecstatic vision! I behold myself a glowing picture of health with rosy cheeks; not ruby-nosed, rough-skinned, pallid and pimpled: for with easy clothing I shall be more inclined to exercise, hence eat substantial food which will make good blood. My numerous trifling ailments, headache, short breath, fickle appetite, corns, cold hands and so forth, their name is legion, will disappear, and life will be far more enjoyable, and I shall be free instead of a slave to my clothes!
Browse to Next Essay >
Women's History |
Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that
encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both
HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any
reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this
Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For
more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact
the source noted in the image credit.
Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided
By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins
| Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry
| 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle
| City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach
Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private
Sponsors and Visitors Like You
This essay made possible by:
People's Histories include memoirs, reminiscences, contemporary accounts, reprints of older historical accounts, commentary on and interpretation of current and historical events, and expressions of personal opinion, many of which have been submitted by our visitors. These essays have not been verified by HistoryLink.org and do not necessarily represent its views. We are also proud to present here essays relating to local history by Washington state winners of the regional and national History Day competition. These young scholars were in the 6th to 12th grades at the time they researched and wrote their prize-winning essays.
Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs
Emily Inez Denny (1853-1918), Seattle, ca. 1890
Courtesy MOHAI (Neg. SHS13350)
Emily Inez Denny (1853-1918), Seattle, ca. 1884
Photo by M.S. McClaire Courtesy MOHAI (Neg. SHS2191)
Advertisement for Blazing The Way by Emily Inez Denny, November 14, 1909
Courtesy The Seattle Times