Did Freedom-Alls from ‘When Calls the Heart’ Really Exist?

Crown Media Rachel wore Freedom-Alls on When Calls the Heart.

On Hallmark’s When Calls the Heart Season 8, Rosemary starts selling “Freedom-Alls” in Dottie’s dress shop, and the residents of Hope Valley aren’t really sure what to think of the new garments. Then Rachel takes a shine to them, and the new fashion-forward selection steals the show. When Calls the Heart is known for not always being historically accurate, but is that the case for Freedom-Alls? You might be surprised to learn that Freedom-Alls really did exist.

The Demand for Women’s Pants Started After Women Took Over Men’s Jobs During World War I


It wasn’t until the early 1900s that women began wearing pants, the Pasadena Museum of History reported. Paul Poiret, a French designer, was one of the first to design loose-fitting pants for women in 1911. Pants were a practical necessity for women who had to fill in for men fighting in World War I, and giving up the clothing type once the war was over was something many women simply weren’t interested in doing.

The Pasadena Museum of History reported that women’s pants didn’t really become a fashion-forward statement until the 1930s and 1940s, when stars like Katherine Hepburn began wearing them.

Interestingly, the first woman in Puerto Rico who wore trousers in 1919 (Luisa Capetillo) was sent to jail, according to the Pasadena Museum of History. It wasn’t until 1994 that a First Lady of the United States (Hillary Clinton) wore pants in an official First Lady portrait.

Levi Strauss Introduced Freedom-Alls in 1918

Levi Strauss first introduced Freedom-Alls in 1918, the Pasadena Museum of History reported. These consisted of a “one-piece tunic over balloon pants.” The denim jean, however, wouldn’t be invented specifically for women until 1934.

Because When Calls the Heart‘s first season is set in 1910, according to the wiki, the introduction of Freedom-Alls actually fits right in.

Levi’s described their Freedom-Alls as consisting of “a belted tunic over harem pants which were called trousers (and had a drop seat.) These buckled near the ankle to be worn with boots. The trousers could also be worn loose.”

The Freedom-Alls came in two types, Levi’s shared: a lightweight cotton or a heavy khaki. The cotton version had the tunic in solid blue, pink, or green, while the pants had white stripes over a shade that matched the tunic.

In other words, Rachel’s Freedom-Alls on When Calls the Heart are close but not quite accurate.

Levi explained that the word “Freedom” was used for the outfit because the U.S. had just entered World War I the year before they were introduced, and many people wanted clothing and other items that shared their patriotic feelings. They also wanted to advertise how the outfit gave women a greater freedom-of-movement. This was also a callback to a previous product that Levi Strauss had introduced for children called Koveralls.

Levi Strauss wrote:

The advertising for Freedom-Alls showed women doing both housework (a traditional activity) and some form of physical exercise, like hiking (not so traditional). Western women were taking advantage of the wide open spaces: driving cars, taking up nature photography, wandering through the new national parks. LS&Co. knew this, and created clothing that liberated, rather than restricted the new, female consumers.

The Freedom-Alls weren’t as popular as they were portrayed on When Calls the Heart, however. In fact, they were introduced in 1918 and then disappeared from the catalog in 1919, Levi shared. However, the idea lived on in a new style of hiking apparel introduced in the 1920s called Hiking Togs.

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