Yes, it’s difficult to judge the past by satiric cartoons of the time. If we consider the op-ed version of the Women’s Movement of the 1960s, we’d think that every female in American was flinging her bra into the liberation fires. Nope, not by half –– any more than every Englishwoman in the early 1800s paraded through a northern winter in a handkerchief’s worth of cotton muslin, with nothing at all beneath it.
That said, the cartoons sure ARE a lot of fun. This one shows the older generation appalled by the newest fashions, with a dreadful pun for good measure (click on the image to enlarge so you don’t miss the details.) FYI: Bombazine is a stiff, heavy silk, while Bum-be-seen is pretty self-explanatory.
The Fashions of the Day, or Time Past and Present, by George Moutard Woodward, 1807. From the collection of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.