About disguising as a man

Please post here documents about women pretending to be men in 1900.

Georges Sand (1804-1876), Story Of My Life, State University of New York State

I was well aware that for a woman without money to fulfill these fantasies
was impossible. Balzac used to say, “You can’t be a woman in Paris
without an income of twenty-five thousand francs.” And this paradox on the
price of elegance became a truism for the woman who wanted to be an artist.

Yet I saw my young friends from Berry, my childhood companions, live
in Paris with as little as I, and keep abreast of everything that interested intelligent
young people. Literary and political events, the excitement of the theaters
and the museums, the clubs and the streets-they saw everything, they went
everywhere. My legs were as strong as theirs, and so were my good little Berrichon
feet, which had learned to walk on bad roads, balancing on thick wooden
clogs. But on the pavements of Paris I was like a boat on ice. Delicate footwear
cracked in two days; overshoes made me clumsy; I wasn’t used to lifting my
skirts. I was muddy, tired, runny-nosed, and I saw my shoes and clothing-not
to mention the little velvet hats-spattered in the gutters, falling into ruin with
frightening rapidity.

I had already observed and experienced these things before I dreamed of
settling in Paris, and had brought up the problem with my mother, who lived
there in elegance and comfort on three thousand five hundred francs a year:
how to make do with the cheapest mode of dress in this frightful climate, short
of living confined to one’s room seven days a week. She had replied to me, “At
my age and with my habits, it’s not hard; but when I was young and your father
was short of money, he got the idea to dress me like a boy. My sister did likewise,
and we went everywhere on foot with our husbands–the theater, all sorts
of places. Our cost of living was reduced by half.”

At first this idea seemed amusing to me, and then very ingenious. Having
been dressed like a boy during my childhood, then having hunted in smock and
gaiters with Deschartres, I did not find it at all shocking again to put on a costume
which was not new to me. At that period, the fashion was singularly helpful
to the disguise. Men were wearing long, square redingotes called “proprietor’s
coats,” which went down to the heel and showed so little of the shape that
my brother, when donning his at Nohant, had laughingly said to me, “Pretty,
isn’t it? It’s the fashion, and it’s very comfortable. The tailor takes his measurements
on a sentry box, and out comes an item that would fit a whole regiment.”

So, I had a “sentry box redingote” made for myself, out of thick gray
cloth, with matching trousers and vest. With a gray hat and a wide wool tie, I
was the perfect little first-year student. I cannot tell you the pleasure I derived
from my boots-I would gladly have slept in them, as my brother did in his
youth, when he put on his first pair. With those little iron heels, I felt secure on
the sidewalks. I flew from one end of Paris to the other. It seemed to me that I
could have made a trip around the world. Also, my clothing made me fearless.
I was on the go in all kinds of weather, I came in at all hours, I sat in the pit in
every theater. No one paid attention to me, no one suspected my disguise.
Aside from the fact that I wore it with ease, the absence of coquettishness in
costume and facial expression warded off any suspicion. I was too poorly
dressed and looked too simple-my usual vacant, verging on dumb, look-to
attract or compel attention. Women understand very little about wearing a disguise,
even on the stage. They do not want to give up the slenderness of their
figure, the smallness of their feet, the gracefulness of their movements, the
sparkle in their eyes; and yet all these things~specially their way of glancing-
make it easy to guess who they are. There is a way of stealing about,
everywhere, without turning a head, and of speaking in a low and muted pitch
which does not resound like a flute in the ears of those who may hear you. Furthermore,
to avoid being noticed as a man, you must already have not been
noticed as a woman.

I never went to the pit alone, not because the people I saw there were any
more or less uncouth than elsewhere, but because of the paid and unpaid
claques who wrangled a great deal at that time. They did a lot of pushing and
shoving at first performances, and I was not strong enough to fight against the
crowd. I always placed myself in the center of the small batallion of my friends
from Berry, who protected me as best they could. One day, however, when
seated under the gaslight, I happened to yawn, in all innocence and frankness,
with no ulterior motive. The clappers seemed intent on roughing me up. They
called me names that impugned my masculinity. I found myself getting very
angry and rebellious when they tried to provoke me, and if my friends had not
been numerous enough to impress the claque, I really think I would have gotten
myself beaten up.