September 30, 2013 § Leave a comment
Obtain a gown. Let us assume for the moment that you live in a cold clime, and will need to be modestly-clad.
Add an Asian influence.
You could also accessorize with a shawl, fan, etc.
Say what you will about corsets (such as, you can’t swing a dead cat on Halloween, or on Etsy, without hitting one), it’s tough to get a real steampunk look going without at least one corset, or more if circumstances require. But that doesn’t mean you automatically have to gravitate to the slutty ones that are really just boob-accentuators. Think of your corset as a protective apron. Gird your loins against gamma rays and whatnot that you may encounter on your adventure. The steampunkiest-looking corsets, ironically, are those originally intended to be underwear, but in reality look like something that got put through a time machine and then landed in outerspace. Be that as it may, your classic girdle makes an industrial-strength corset, worn on the outside of the clothing, of course.
There’s no need to limit oneself to only one corset, and the base layer of the traditional girdle will need to be jazzed up with something more modern, or reinforced with something flame-retardant. Think layering. Your outfit will thank you. Your hourglass figure will thank you. Please be careful how much you eat for lunch, and don’t forget your smelling salts.
And now top that whole sandwich off with a belt. The belt is important, and here’s why. The belt might be where you store your magic amulet. Or, it serves a productive purpose and allows you to hang gear, ammunition, or weapons off of it within easy reach. Don’t underestimate the importance of the belt.
If you have a few extra leather belts laying around, we recommend randomly strapping them to your person in various places (arms, thighs, collar bones, etc.), hinting at purposes only you understand.
Some form of headgear is now in order. You could go with the good old fashioned top hat or fascinator:
Or the military / marching band / majorette look:
Or indulge your whimsy and go for the fantastical:
If you’re of the more practical persuasion, you might want wear a helmet instead. There’s aviator, fencing, motorcycle, Viking, pith, football, scuba, riding, and air raid, to name a few.
Now that we’ve got the basic outfit, accessorize accessorize accessorize. Let’s start with some protective eyewear. You have a huge range to choose from. Vintage motorcycle goggles are perfect, as are anything else that looks perfectly ridiculous and goes over your eyes. Don’t be afraid to choose something absurd. Absurd goggles are arguably the most important element of a good steampunk get-up.
A lady always wears gloves. And/or gauntlets.
And carries a reticule. Industrial strength, in case of accidents, or if it’s from the future.
Hands-free options can be particularly useful.
What about footgear, you ask? Depending on where you’re treading, you could go pretty or practical. Again, now is a good time to bring in that Asian influence. Steel-toe ass-kickers or Japanese geta, your choice, but consider the elements, comfort, and your own particular fetish.
And now a word about safety. We’ve already girded our loins, so now you might want to concentrate on covering some other vulnerable areas with body armour. Supplement as needed. You don’t want to go all medieval, but depending on your adventure, you could be getting into some dangerous territory, and worse case scenario you can always refer to it as the Cyberman look. Not sure how butch you want to go, but the 19th-century-prostitute look is just lame and isn’t really steampunk per se, it’s just a prostitute from another era. Real steampunk girls range from can-take-care-of-herself to total-badass. But even the badest-ass needs to protect her tender bits. So let’s be careful out there.
A gas mask is a creepy yet effective accessory.
Extremely important. Do not venture forth un-armed. Make sure your packin’ heat. Your weapons choices are as varied as are aliens to shoot them with. Do not, I repeat, do not underestimate the power of a cookie dough dispenser.
And finally, no steampunk rig is complete without a parasol. No one’s sure why. But it’s a requirement.
Last step, strap one of these to your back …
… and attach it to your person with one of these, and you’re good to go!
Don’t forget the requisite randomly-placed gauges, gears, clocks, tubes, guns, buckles, valves, and dials, that should protrude from your outfit in convenient spots, preferably connecting to different spots somewhere on down the line.
September 28, 2013 § 1 Comment
Step 1: Do your research. An infallible and encyclopedic resource is The Look of the Old West by William Foster-Harris. You should also consult I See by Your Outfit: Historic Cowboy Gear of the Northern Plains by Tom Lindmier and of course Vintrowear’s own Get Your Old West On: Real Cowboys and the Shirts They Wore.
Step 2: Get in the mood. I find that Cowboys & Longhorns: A Portrait of the Long Drive by Jerry Stanley will do the trick. As will Hillbilly Hollywood by Debby Bull for the bling quotient. Also anything on Wild Bill Hickok.
Step 3: Start building your costume. Refer to your Foster-Harris frequenty. To whit, the big picture:
And don’t forget the details:
Step 4: Get yourself a good shirt.
Step 5: Party down like these people.
Happy almost Halloween month!
August 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
The governing fantasy is that Vintrowear will begin selling vintage costume apparel beginning Halloween 2014. Since current resources are applied toward cowboy shirt acquisition and sales, our buyer made purchases from Vice Versa Vintage, only in her imagination. Our imaginary 2013 Fall Collection would have included:
July 26, 2012 § Leave a comment
We treasure The Stones, and so does Grand Manner Vintage Shop. Grand Manner Vintage Shop also treasures Vintrowear’s black western shirt from High Noon. Check it out, and be sure to also check out Grand Manner’s etsy shop – she’s got some great items such as this vintage silk paisley scarf from Christian Dior.
We share the love by treasuring both Bruce Springsteen and decora-ous switchplates in the rocker style (or paddle-style, for those of you who go for that kind of thing.) Getcha switchplates heeyah!
Here’s the one I bought:
April 21, 2012 § 2 Comments
Frank Ely was born August 8, 1842 to Benjamin and Martha Washington Allen Ely in Carrollton, Missouri. His mother died in 1853 when Frank was 11, and his father passed in 1860. Frank was raised by his half-brother, Lewis Bell Ely, and went to work for him as a clerk in his store, Hill & Ely, rather than go to school. He enlisted in the Confederate Army as a young man, but left soon thereafter due to illness. Frank spent two years in New York, whereafter he returned to St. Louis and began working as a clerk for the dry goods firm, Crow & McCreary (which later changed its name to Crow, Hargadine & Co.)
In 1864 he was given partnership in the firm, and in 1873 Frank married a Kentucky girl named Clara Crow Daniel, daughter of Vivian Daniel and Vitula McCreary, and niece of Senator James B. McCreary. In 1878 Frank started his own firm, known as Ely, Janis & Company.
In 1879 Ely, Janis & Company formed a partnership with one David Davis Walker, and the rest, as they say, was history. The resulting alliance was named Ely-Walker & Company.
Now, much has been written on David Davis Walker. Known as D.D., he was born in 1840 in Bloomington, Illinois. His career trajectory similar to Frank’s in many ways, D.D. began work in 1857 at Crow, McCreary & Co. as an office boy. In 1862 he married Martha A. Beakey, and in 1865 he was given partnership in the firm. He left Crow, McCreary in 1878.
Ely-Walker & Company was, in short, a raging and long-lived success. By the end of their first year, their business volume exceeded $2.5 million. In 1883 they incorporated under the name of Ely & Walker Dry Goods Company.
Tragedy struck, however in the year 1890. On a visit to New York City, after three weeks of relative health and safety, Frank was suddenly seized with a chill on January 22nd while eating dinner. Clara was immediately sent for by telegram, and she arrived in this fair city on January 25th to nurse her ailing husband. At first her ministrations were effective, and Frank seemed to rally, but the rally was short-lived and Frank soon relapsed. Cause of death was pneumonia. He died at the Murray Hill Hotel at 1:45 am on the morning of February 14, 1890. Frank was 47 years old. Clara accompanied his remains back to St. Louis for burial.
Clara died in 1922.
Despite the loss of his partner, D.D. Walker carried on. The name Ely & Walker was so well known by the time of Frank Ely’s death, that the firm retained the name and, under the direction of the Walker family, continued to flourish. By 1893, Ely & Walker had 65 salesman covering 17 states, including the areas in the “wild west,” in what was then known as Indian Territory. Both J.C. Penney and Sears Roebuck each purchased as much as one third of their inventories from E&W. E&W owned many factories by this time, producing goods under the E&W name.
In 1902, ill health convinced D.D. to retire from E&W. His son, William H. Walker took over, but his tenure only lasted a brief one year due to a major disagreement with his father, who retained his board position, over William H.’s “personal financial interest,” which conflicted with the interests of the firm. William H. Walker resigned. The E&W trademark was filed in 1909.
William H.’s brother, George Herbert Walker, known as “Bert,” was also employed by the firm. Together Bert and D.D. built a summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, for the family to escape the hot Missouri summers. There D.D. passed away on October 19, 1918.
Where the Elys were staunch Baptists, the Walkers were decidedly Catholic, and, ironically, Democrats. D.D. had great hopes that Bert would become a Catholic priest. Instead, in 1875 Bert married a Presbyterian named Lucretia “Loulie” Wear, became a Republican, and spurned the dry goods firm in favor of building a financial empire that produced him an enormous wealth of his own. Bert’s firm was known as G.H. Walker & Co. After D.D.’s death, Bert inherited both Kennebunkport and the E&W wealth, forming the foundations of a dynasty that continues to effect our country in unimaginable ways.
Bert and Loulie gave birth to a daughter in 1901, who they named Dorothy. In 1921 Dorothy married one Prescott Sheldon Bush. Their son, George Herbert Walker Bush, was born in 1924, and in 1945 he married a lady named Barbara Pierce. In due time this couple produced a son named George Walker Bush. And the rest, as they say, was history.
The Ely & Walker Quality trademark was filed in 1918. The “Plains by E&W” trademark first came into use in 1941, and a trademark was filed in 1952.
In 1956, ready to retire, the small group of shareholders owning a controlling interest in Ely & Walker sold their factories to Burlington Industries, who continued to produce the E&W brand shirts. In turn the E&W division was then sold to Washington Manufacturing Company of Nashville, Tennessee in 1964 (founded in 1840 by Robert Wickliffe Comer (therestorationmovement.com), which also produced shirts under the Dee Cee brand.
(It is interesting here to note that Muriel Deason, aka Queen of Country Music Kitty Wells and wife of country music star Johnnie Wright, dropped out of school and worked at the Washington Manufacturing Company in 1937, folding and ironing shirts to make ends meet.)
Johnny Wright and Kitty Wells with one of Johnny’s Nudie Suits
(via Heart of Texas Country Music Association – Bringing Traditional Country Music to You!)
The Ely Cattleman trademark was first used in commerce in 1967, and the Ely trademark was filed in 1973. The Ely Plains trademark came into use in 1980. In 1988 Washington Manufacturing Company filed for bankruptcy, and in 1995, Oxford Industries acquired the assets of Ely & Walker Company. Oxford continues to manufacture Ely Plains and Ely Cattleman western shirts to this day.
Bush genealogy and family history websites – just google it.
The Ely ancestry : lineage of Richard Ely of Plymouth, England, who came to Boston, Mass., about 1655, & settled at Lyme, Conn. in 1660, collected by the late Moses S. Beach
“Oxford Industries Acquires Ely & Walker,” PR Newswire, June 6, 1995.
National Registry of Historic Places Registration Form, Ely & Walker Shirt Factory No. 5, Kennet, MO.Textile Industry History, http://www.textilehistory.org.
Vintage Ad Browser, http://www.vintageadbrowser.com.
Ely shirts on sale now at Vintrowear!
January 2, 2012 § Leave a comment
Our vintage hand-sewn chambray two-toned cowboy shirt was featured in a Etsy treasury:
Happy New Year from the cowgirls at Vintrowear!
December 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
Someone needs to light up the night this New Year’s Eve in this sparkling get-up:
It’s long, it’s got rhinestone buttons, and it’s something Endora might wear if she were visiting outer space.
Would you like a closer look? Make sure you’re wearing your 2012 sunglasses.
What are you doing for New Year’s Eve? The Vintrowear family will be knocking back champagne and thanking our lucky stars for the phantasmagorical 2011 we just had. Many thanks to the gods and goddesses (you know who you are!) who made the Vintrowear store possible.
November 25, 2011 § 2 Comments
Lately we’ve been noticing the awesomeness of the vintage western sports coat, or, blazer if you will. Like the more formal older brother of the western shirt, it frequently features contrast color and fabric yokes, elbow patches, and all manner of embellishment. First hand tailored by Nathan Turk, Nudie, and Rodeo Ben in the 1940s, fancy western suit jackets really took off in the 1950s as Nashville and television both had a hand in popularizing the singing cowboy look of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. But a western sports coat doesn’t have to coated in sequins and embroidery to look good. Just those two-toned yokes will broaden a man’s shoulders and sharpen up his mien. Some fine specimens exist on Etsy.
November 6, 2011 § Leave a comment
The Boston Herald reviews AMC’s new series, “Hell on Wheels,” premiering tonight at 10/9c. Says Anson Mount, who portrays Cullen Bohannon, the show’s “squint-eyed, cigar-chomping outlaw with a conscience,” on the show’s realistic moral ambiguity:
That’s a form of squeaky-clean Western where the good guys had pressed shirts and the good guys were really, really good and the bad guys were really, real-ly bad. I’m more inter-ested in the Sergio Leone formula where everything was in a gray area. There is no good and bad in the face of lawlessness. It’s your gut instinct against my gut instinct, and who’s to say what’s right and wrong.
That realism extends to the look and feel as well. Says “Hell on Wheels” costume designer Wendy Partridge to the Calgary Herald:
We went to great lengths to make everything dirty and grimy. We spent several weeks making things muddy and dirty and putting creases in everything. It’s a huge undertaking.
Also stars Common as Elam Ferguson. We can’t wait. If you’re interested in shades of gray, Vintrowear vintage western shirts are for sale via Google Checkout on our Vintrowear site or Pay Pal through our Etsy store. Available in Smoke, Gunmetal, Storm, or charcoal.
November 5, 2011 § Leave a comment
The exhibit traces Nudie’s journey across America from designing burlesque costumes in New York to opening his shop in North Hollywood. Gene Autry, Elton John, Gram Parsons, Elvis Presley, Roy Rogers and Hank Williams are among the artists who wore Nudie’s designs.