(Texas) “Pants Rule”: Baylor women in the 1960s

This blog post was written by Delilah Brezenski, undergraduate student, class of ‘24

Anne Miller, fashion reporter for the Baylor Lariat, wrote a March 1963 article on the increasingly frill-less, masculine-style clothing for women. “Does this look in the clothes of the woman of today really mean that she has lost her femininity?” Miller asked. She concluded that certain ideas of femininity were fading, but something better was emerging. She wrote, “In the past quarter of a century, American women have assumed more and more responsibility in public life. The easy, casual look is in keeping with the more active lives which these women live. The frail, clinging, ruffley girl is being replaced by the strong, mature woman. The child-woman of the past may have been a pretty toy, but the mature woman of today is an amazing creature.”[1]

Two changes in women’s fashion documented in 1960s issues of the Lariat demonstrated that Baylor women were moving forward, but not without some literal heel-dragging. The most controversial item of clothing was pants.


In a typical social calendar in a 1964 Lariat, you will find the words, “pants permission” at the end of each social event. The events had to be individually approved if the women wanted to wear pants.[2] Women’s pants were announced “in fashion” by Merikaye Strunk in fall of 1965. She wrote that it was appropriate to wear pants for lounging, to sports events, into the city, and as evening wear. She called them a “vital part of every woman’s wardrobe.”[3] Yet, on Baylor’s campus there were still restrictions on when pants could be worn. In 1963, Baylor women were only allowed to wear pants when leaving or returning to town or with permission at picnics. Not all women were satisfied with only these occasions, and the Women’s Student Government was working to get the rules changed.[4]


By the time 1969 came around, women had made a lot of strides in their attempts for free pants permissions, but there were still restrictions. That did not stop a lot of students from wearing pants anyways. A Lariat article titled, “Pants Rule – Baylor Women Do Anyway,” explained that the current rule was that women were not permitted to wear pants before 6:30 pm on weekdays or to any classes, and pants were “forbidden” on Sundays.[5] Becky Key interviewed women she saw on campus wearing pants. Apparently, teachers were not enforcing the rules and “couldn’t care less.” One girl interviewed for the piece noted that the campus climate surrounding pants shifted from 1968 to 1969, and now people did not even stare when they saw a woman on Baylor’s campus in pants. However, several women who wore pants on campus still believed that “girls should wear dresses to class.”[6] College women in general were some of the first to wear pants, and as much as it was for comfort it was also a statement challenging what was deemed “appropriate” for women.[7] The Lariat’s role in communicating women’s pants opinions showed that they were showcasing problems that women faced and were fought against.

On December 11, 1969, the pants permissions were brought up again with the Woman’s Student Advisory Council (formerly Women’s Student Government) and a poll was used to determine those women in favor of changes.[8] [9] Mrs. Auline Bailey, the director of women’s residence halls, who was in support of whatever the poll showed, said, “I do not want unrest among the girls…if it means relinquishing customs that have been here for years, then relinquish them, especially if no moral issues are involved.”[10] In the poll, the majority of women wanted little to no pants restrictions, so the administration decided to let them wear pants everywhere but the noon meal on Sundays for the month of February. The president of the Women’s Student Advisory Council, Barbara Burkett, said, “Baylor women should use their discretion in dressing on campus. I hope they will want to dress appropriately. As a student, I’m very proud of the Baylor image known throughout the country, and I’m sure Baylor women will want to maintain this image.” [11] Even though there were great strides to allow women to express their individuality through their appearance, there were still restrictions as to when some clothing was acceptable, and some older concepts of femininity lingered alongside women’s progress.

A new campus tradition began in 1962 called “Women’s Day.” Sponsored by the Laurel society, the day was meant to honor the women at Baylor for their “outstanding roles as female members of society.”[12] As part of their honoring, the women had to wear heels to all their classes on Women’s Day. There was a banquet at the end of the day where women who had made “outstanding contributions to their fields” would win awards.[13] These fields included academic and service ones. The day was to cover all aspects of the ways in which women contributed to campus. The theme of Women’s Day 1969 “Both Sides Now” had duality in its meaning, both referring to the sharing of man and woman in political, social, and humanitarian spheres and referring to both white women and black women that all deserved freedoms.[14] Some other musings that came up around women’s day were that some women “think it’s hard for [women] to understand [themselves] – hard to figure out how to be very feminine, very ambitious, very much loved and still be true to” themselves.[15] That summed up the feminine thought in the Lariat at the end of the 1960s. Wearing both pants and high heels, women could enjoy how far they had come and contemplate where they might want to go next.


[1] Anne Miller, “Is Femininity Gone in New Fashions?,” Baylor Lariat, March 28, 1963, Vol. 64, No. 95 edition, The Lariat, Baylor University Archive, https://digitalcollections-baylor.quartexcollections.com/Documents/Detail/baylor-lariat-waco-texas-vol.-64-no.-95-thursday-march-28-1963/157124?item=157130.

[2] “Social Calendar,” The Baylor Lariat, April 24, 1964, Vol 65, No. 112 edition, The Lariat, Baylor University Archive, https://digitalcollections-baylor.quartexcollections.com/Documents/Detail/the-baylor-lariat-waco-texas-vol.-65-no.-112-friday-april-24-1964/157827?item=157834.

[3] Merikaye Strunk, “Women’s Pants Are ‘In’ Now,” The Baylor Lariat, October 14, 1965, Vol 67, No 20 edition, The Lariat, Baylor University Archive, https://digitalcollections-baylor.quartexcollections.com/Documents/Detail/the-baylor-lariat-waco-texas-vol.-67-no.-20-thursday-october-14-1965/100555?item=100582.

[4] “WSG Will Discuss Pants Permission,” Baylor Lariat, February 21, 1963, Vol. 64, No. 76 edition, The Lariat, Baylor University Archive, https://digitalcollections-baylor.quartexcollections.com/Documents/Detail/baylor-lariat-waco-texas-vol.-64-no.-76-thursday-february-21-1963/99915.

[5] Becky Key, “Pants Rule — Baylor Women Do Anyway,” The Baylor Lariat, December 11, 1969, Vol. 70, No. 50 edition, The Lariat, Baylor University Archive, https://digitalcollections-baylor.quartexcollections.com/Documents/Detail/the-baylor-lariat-waco-texas-vol.-70-no.-50-thursday-december-11-1969/161726?item=161744.

[6] Becky Key.

[7] Deirdre Clemente, “On the Campus,” in Dress Casual : How College Students Redefined American Style (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014).

[8] “Pants Rule Topic Today for WSAC,” The Baylor Lariat, December 11, 1969, Vol. 70, No. 50 edition, The Lariat, Baylor University Archive, https://digitalcollections-baylor.quartexcollections.com/Documents/Detail/the-baylor-lariat-waco-texas-vol.-70-no.-50-thursday-december-11-1969/161726?item=161744.

[9] Susie Perkins, “Less Strict Pants Rules Considered,” The Baylor Lariat, December 12, 1969, Vol. 70, No. 51 edition, The Lariat, Baylor University Archive, https://digitalcollections-baylor.quartexcollections.com/Documents/Detail/the-baylor-lariat-waco-texas-vol.-70-no.-51-friday-december-12-1969/161724.

[10] “Poll to Test Pants Rule Opinions,” The Baylor Lariat, December 17, 1969, Vol. 70, No. 53 edition, The Lariat, Baylor University Archive, https://digitalcollections-baylor.quartexcollections.com/Documents/Detail/the-baylor-lariat-waco-texas-vol.-70-no.-53-wednesday-december-17-1969/161748.

[11] Jessie Degollado, “Baylor Women Can — Wear Slacks During February, Except Sundays at Noon,” The Baylor Lariat, January 28, 1970, Vol. 70, No. 59 edition, The Lariat, Baylor University Archive, https://digitalcollections-baylor.quartexcollections.com/Documents/Detail/the-baylor-lariat-waco-texas-vol.-70-no.-59-wednesday-january-28-1970/161766.

[12] “Women’s Day Dinner Tickets Are on Sale,” Baylor Lariat, March 21, 1962, Vol. 63, No. 87 edition, The Lariat, Baylor University Archive, https://digitalcollections-baylor.quartexcollections.com/Documents/Detail/baylor-lariat-waco-texas-vol.-63-no.-87-wednesday-march-21-1962/156480?item=156484.

[13] Anne Miller, “BU Women in Spotlight Today,” Baylor Lariat, March 28, 1963, The Lariat, Baylor University Archive, https://digitalcollections-baylor.quartexcollections.com/Documents/Detail/baylor-lariat-waco-texas-vol.-64-no.-95-thursday-march-28-1963/157124?item=157155.

[14] Becky Key, “Members of the Laurel Tell ‘Both Sides Now,’” The Baylor Lariat, April 15, 1969, Vol. 69, No. 141 edition, The Lariat, Baylor University Archive, https://digitalcollections-baylor.quartexcollections.com/Documents/Detail/the-baylor-lariat-waco-texas-vol.-69-no.-141-tuesday-april-15-1969/161376?item=161381.

[15] Becky Key.

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