Elizabeth B. Bauder’s Pantsuit

Thalhimer's executive, Elizabeth B. Bauder, served as vice president of the Richmond department store.

By Valentine Museum Staff
Short-sleeved, mock turtleneck, cream-colored pantsuit with a tie belt and two pockets on the front of the shirt.
Elizabeth B. Bauder’s pantsuit, c. 1971, V.98.75.05, The Valentine.

Richmond native Elizabeth Bunnell Bauder (1929-2012) spent 40 years of her working life with Thalhimers department stores and retired as the top-ranking female executive in 1990.  Among her many firsts, she “broke the glass ceiling” by becoming a vice president in 1971.  At that time, she also challenged the male-dominated executive mindset of the traditional southern business by wearing this trouser suit or pantsuit to the office, striking a blow for equal rights in the work place.

The history of the pantsuit can be traced back in American fashion history to the feminist uniform of the mid 19th century developed and sported by Amelia Bloomer.  During the 1920’s, fashion designers began to embrace trouser suits for women, but they were not viewed as appropriate for the average American women until the social revolutions of the late 1960’s.

Gift of Elizabeth Bauder, 1998

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Authors Valentine Museum Staff
Work Title Elizabeth B. Bauder’s Pantsuit
Website https://thevalentine.org
Published October 18, 2023
Updated May 24, 2024
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