The First Lady Pants in Congress

Cristen Conger

In 1969, Rep. Charlotte T. Reid (R-Ill.) became the first woman to wear pants on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. The Washington Post reported that the history-making black wool pantsuit aroused the curiosities of male members of Congress who apparently flocked to catch a glimpse of it. By all accounts, none of the guys seemed offended by the outfit (thank heavens).

Nor was the professional singer turned conservative politician attempting to make a radical fashion statement. She largely wore it on a lark, as it was the final day of the congressional session before Christmas break. And though the bell bottoms attracted national attention, the pantsuit likely never saw the light of the congressional chamber again.

Speaking to The Washington Post, Reid said "I am really quite serious about my service in the Congress and I wouldn't want to do anything that seemed facetious. Neither would I want to do anything to take away from the femininity of the women in the House, even though I think pants are feminine-looking."

Not until 1993 would Senators Barbara Mikulski (D.-MD) and Carol Moseley Braun (D.-Ill.) follow (pant)suit and wear trousers on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

Related Stuff Mom Never Told You about pants: