Light Notes

Exercise dresses? Keep your pants on

SPOKANE — I’m not a women’s libber, but I can’t skirt this issue any longer.

There’s a movement to send women back to the 1950s — in a dress.

In a sudden whirl of advertising, dresses for exercise — yes, I said EXERCISE — are strolling across the pages of outdoor recreation catalogs. They’re even hanging out at sports events such as the Lilac Bloomsday Run earlier this month in Spokane.

I saw it, the Nuu-Muu first-hand, when my daughter, Tiffany, and I picked up our race packets. The dress was displayed among the many booths filled to the brim with running gear.

I remember pausing for a moment in shock.

If I hadn’t known better, I’d have thought I was in the Back to the Future film’s plutonium-powered DeLorean, engineered by a mad scientist.

Instead, it’s young women who seem to be madly in love with the idea of putting gals back into dresses.

I grew up having to wear a dress all the time.

Elementary school found us little girls trying to hang on the bars upside down, clutching our dresses between our legs. The “monkey bars” weren’t much better. Both forms of exercise soon became a spectator sport — for the boys.

Bicycling posed just about the same problem with skirts flying in the wind. Sidewalk skating was no better. Dresses most often didn’t have pockets for the skate key, so we improvised with a piece of string around our neck — or handed off the piece of gray metal to one of our brothers.

Even sitting to put on our skates was a mother’s futile lesson in modesty.

But finally, things changed.

In the late 1960s, soldiers returning from Vietnam couldn’t believe their eyes. They’d left with gals in dresses and come home to women wearing the pants.

We enjoyed the freedom.

So, it’s with a bit of concern that I eye this new fashion trend, one that brings us full circle. It’s a road I’ve already traveled.

But there’s something that has been on my mind since the Bloomsday race when afterward Tiffany and I couldn’t remember where we parked the car.

If we’d have been wearing dresses, would we have been offered a ride?