How to Be a Steampunk Lady for Halloween

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.

 
You might be martially inclined, or even inclined to march:

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.

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How to be a Steampunk Cowboy for Halloween

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:

Vintrowear's Steampunk Cowboy Halloween Costume Guide (image credit: Foster-Harris / Curro)  Vintrowear's Steampunk Cowboy Halloween Costume Guide (image credit: Foster-Harris / Curro) Vintrowear's Steampunk Cowboy Halloween Costume Guide (image credit: Foster-Harris / Curro) Vintrowear's Steampunk Cowboy Halloween Costume Guide (image credit: Foster-Harris / Curro) Vintrowear's Steampunk Cowboy Halloween Costume Guide (image credit: Foster-Harris / Curro)

And don’t forget the details:

Vintrowear's Steampunk Cowboy Halloween Costume Guide (image credit: Foster-Harris / Curro)  Vintrowear's Steampunk Cowboy Halloween Costume Guide (image credit: Foster-Harris / Curro)  Vintrowear's Steampunk Cowboy Halloween Costume Guide (image credit: Foster-Harris / Curro)   Vintrowear's Steampunk Cowboy Halloween Costume Guide (image credit: Foster-Harris / Curro) Vintrowear's Steampunk Cowboy Halloween Costume Guide (image credit: Foster-Harris / Curro) Vintrowear's Steampunk Cowboy Halloween Costume Guide (image credit: Foster-Harris / Curro) Vintrowear's Steampunk Cowboy Halloween Costume Guide (image credit: Foster-Harris / Curro)

Step 4: Get yourself a good shirt.

Mens MEDIUM LARGE bib front cowboy shirt, Panhandle Slim, vintage, gray and blue striped, pearl snaps (386)

Mens LARGE cowboy shirt, Rockmount Tru West, vintage, red with white top stitching, pearl snaps (457)

Mens MEDIUM cowboy shirt, Red Rider, vintage, black and white two toned, pearl snaps (437)

Mens XXL western shirt, Ely Diamond, vintage, black with red piping on bib front, red snaps (420)

Step 5: Party down like these people.

Happy almost Halloween month!

Halloween Window Shopping

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:

Orange taffeta maxi skirt, aka Pumpkin Lady - from Vintrowear

Orange taffeta maxi skirt, aka Pumpkin Lady

Orange taffeta maxi skirt, aka Pumpkin Lady - from Vintrowear Orange taffeta maxi skirt, aka Pumpkin Lady - from Vintrowear

Handmade acqua and gold gown with ruffled collar and empire waist, aka Mermaid - from Vintrowear

Handmade acqua and gold gown with ruffled collar and empire waist, aka Mermaid

Handmade acqua and gold gown with ruffled collar and empire waist, aka Mermaid - from Vintrowear Handmade acqua and gold gown with ruffled collar and empire waist, aka Mermaid - from Vintrowear

Handmade yellow chiffon maxi dress, aka Little Bo Peep - from Vintrowear

Handmade yellow chiffon maxi dress, aka Little Bo Peep

Handmade yellow chiffon maxi dress, aka Little Bo Peep - from Vintrowear

Turquoise sequined cocktail dress, aka ... ? something from the sea! - from Vintrowear

Turquoise sequined cocktail dress, aka … ? something from the sea!

Blue sequined plus size 1980s gown, aka Trans-Gender Mermaid - from Vintrowear

Blue sequined plus size 1980s gown, aka Trans-Gender Mermaid

Blue sequined plus size 1980s gown, aka Trans-Gender Mermaid - from Vintrowear

Multi-colored tasseled maxi skirt, aka Gypsy Rainbow Lady! - from Vintrowear

Multi-colored tasseled maxi skirt, aka Gypsy Rainbow Lady!

Multi-colored tasseled maxi skirt, aka Gypsy Rainbow Lady! - from Vintrowear

Beautiful handmade burgundy velvet maxi dress with silver braid, aka Medieval Lady - from Vintrowear

Beautiful handmade burgundy velvet maxi dress with silver braid, aka Medieval Lady

Beautiful handmade burgundy velvet maxi dress with silver braid, aka Medieval Lady - from Vintrowear Beautiful handmade burgundy velvet maxi dress with silver braid, aka Medieval Lady - from Vintrowear

Red ruched cocktail dress with puff skirt and sleeves that ate Manhatta, aka Fairy, Little Red Riding Hood, Santa's Elf, etc. etc. - from Vintrowear

Red ruched cocktail dress with puff skirt and sleeves that ate Manhatta, aka Fairy, Little Red Riding Hood, Santa’s Elf, etc. etc.

Red ruched cocktail dress with puff skirt and sleeves that ate Manhatta, aka Fairy, Little Red Riding Hood, Santa's Elf, etc. etc. - from Vintrowear

Cheongsam made of fuschia novelty fabric, aka... a fish called Wanda? something anime? - from Vintrowear

Cheongsam made of fuschia novelty fabric, aka… a fish called Wanda? something anime?

Cheongsam made of fuschia novelty fabric, aka... a fish called Wanda? something anime? - from Vintrowear Cheongsam made of fuschia novelty fabric, aka... a fish called Wanda? something anime? - from Vintrowear

Lime green ruffled tuxedo blouse, plus size, aka Sgt. Pepper, Leprechaun, Band Leader, Clown - from Vintrowear

Lime green ruffled tuxedo blouse, plus size, aka Sgt. Pepper, Leprechaun, Band Leader, Clown

Lime green ruffled tuxedo blouse, plus size, aka Sgt. Pepper, Leprechaun, Band Leader, Clown - from Vintrowear

Blue and black sequined flamenco skirt, aka Gypsy Queen, Carmen Miranda - from Vintrowear

Blue and black sequined flamenco skirt, aka Gypsy Queen, Carmen Miranda

Blue and black sequined flamenco skirt, aka Gypsy Queen, Carmen Miranda - from Vintrowear Blue and black sequined flamenco skirt, aka Gypsy Queen, Carmen Miranda - from Vintrowear

Yellow and green floral chiffon maxi gown, aka Forest Fairy, Wood Nymph - from Vintrowear

Yellow and green floral chiffon maxi gown, aka Forest Fairy, Wood Nymph

Yellow and green floral chiffon maxi gown, aka Forest Fairy, Wood Nymph - from Vintrowear Yellow and green floral chiffon maxi gown, aka Forest Fairy, Wood Nymph - from Vintrowear

Purple and silver sequined gown, aka Circus Performer - from Vintrowear

Purple and silver sequined gown, aka Circus Performer

Purple and silver sequined gown, aka Circus Performer - from Vintrowear

Rose satin party dress, aka Pin Up Girl - from Vintrowear

Rose satin party dress, aka Pin Up Girl

Treasure and be treasured

July 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

 

Mens XL black cowboy shirt, High Noon, vintage, pearl snaps from VintrowearWe 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.Vintage Paisley Christian Dior Scarf from Grand Manner

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:

Switchplate Cover from CBT Design

What’s in a label: The Genealogy of Ely & Walker

April 21, 2012 § 2 Comments

1981 Ely Plains advertisementFrank 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.)

Ely & Walker Buys Hargadine

Ely & Walker Dry Goods Co.'s Greatest Sale

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.Mens LARGE cowboy shirt, Ely Plains, short sleeved, vintage, black gray maroon plaid, pearl snaps

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.

David Davis Walker, co founder of Ely & WalkerNow, 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.Mens LARGE Ely Plains western shirt, vintage, fire engine red, pearl snaps

Clara died in 1922.

Mens Large vintage Ely Plains western shirt from VintrowearDespite 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.E&W Trademark Application

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.Mens XL western shirt, Ely Plains, vintage, teal and magenta plaid, pearl snaps

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.

Ely Walker QualityBut what of the shirts, you ask?

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.

Robert Wickliffe ComerIn 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.

Johnnie Wright and Kitty Wells(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.)

Johnnie Wright and Kitty Wells costumes Johnnie Wright and Kitty Wells with Nudie Suit

From http://nudiesuits.tumblr.com/
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 Plains by E&WThe 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.

1973 Ely & Walker advertisement
References:
Ancestry.com
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!

Mens Large Ely Cattleman vintage western shirt from Vintrowear Mens XL Ely Cattleman Vintage Western Shirt from Vintrowear Mens XL vintage Ely Cattleman western shirt from VintrowearMens Large Ely Cattleman Vintage Western Shirt from Vintrowear Mens Large Ely Cattleman vintage western shirt from Vintrowear Mens Large Ely Plains vintage western shirt from Vintrowear

True blue in the year that is new

January 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Our vintage hand-sewn chambray two-toned cowboy shirt was featured in a Etsy treasury:

Vintage hand-sewn two-toned chambray and cornflower print western from Vintrowear.com

Vintage hand-sewn two-toned chambray and cornflower print western from Vintrowear.com

Happy New Year from the cowgirls at Vintrowear!

Silver Moon Beam Hostess Goddess Mumu: As Seen at Holy Name Thrift Store

December 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Someone needs to light up the night this New Year’s Eve in this sparkling get-up:

Silver Sparkle Hostess Gown

It’s long, it’s got rhinestone buttons, and it’s something Endora might wear if she were visiting outer space.

Endora's Outer Space Delux

Would you like a closer look?  Make sure you’re wearing your 2012 sunglasses.

Sparking Hostess Mumu

Hostess from Outerspace

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.

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