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!

DIY Two-Toned Cowboy Shirt

August 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

DIY Two-Toned Cowboy Shirt

Presto, chango: fancy western.  Thank you to Emma B. on Cut Out + Keep craft tutorials.  Great idea for a cowboy costume at Halloween!  More cowboy shirts available from Vintrowear, both plain and fancy.

This Week in Cowboy Shirt News

August 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

(aka This Month in Cowboy Shirt News)

Is rodeo, home of the western shirt, the modern, clean sport it claims to be?  Or are the rodeo clowns running the asylum?  Thank you, Missouri, home of my ancestors, for trying to clean up your act and make things right following this non-funny clown stunt:

Missouri fair bans rodeo clown wearing Obama mask

And how ’bout those poor kids trying to make a living at falling off horses?

On the Rodeo Circuit, July is Cowboy Christmas

On the Rodeo Circuit, July is Cowboy Christmas from Vintrowear

And more sad news on the westernwear front, San Jose’s not the cowtown it used to be:

San Jose Western wear store owner who beat City Hall hangs up hat

San Jose Western wear store owner who beat City Hall hangs up hat from Vintrowear

Lyle Lovett creates line of western shirts

August 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Lyle Lovett promotes his new line of western shirts on Esquire.  A collaboration with Hamilton Shirts, these beauties will be known as the “Lyle Lovett Western by Hamilton Shirts,” available for a whopping $265 this fall.  Get this same awesome look from Vintrowear for $25.  Looks like his don’t have snaps.  Don’t worry, ours do.

Mens 4XL cowboy shirt, Big Mac, vintage, chambray denim, white snaps (376)

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 (, 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

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
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,
Vintage Ad Browser,

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

The western roots of Family Vintrowear

October 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

Great Grandfather Clyde's General Store - Superior, Nebraska 1909

Great Grandfather Clyde's General Store - Superior, Nebraska 1909

We at Vintrowear have been purveyors of fine western shirts for over a century.  Select from an enormous variety of Vintrowear vintage western shirts.

Cowboys Who Like Cowboys

June 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Here’s to all the cowboys and rodeo kings who like to look fabulous.  Did you know there’s an International Gay Rodeo Association?  The first gay rodeo took place in 1975, and they’ve been going strong ever since.  With chapters and rodeos all over North America, that’s a lot of gay cowboys.  In addition to “Promoting, in a positive way, the GBLTQ country western lifestyle,” they support “amateur sportsmanship through participation, competition and recognition.”  Gay rodeos also raise money for local charities and sponsor western dance competitions.  According to Scott Bidstrup, gay rights activist, essayist, and rodeo enthusiast, “gay rodeo is serious rodeo.”  Let’s rodeo!

And really, who looks better in a western shirt than gay cowboys?

Discerning cowboys can, of course, as always, purchase vintage western shirts at

Congratulations to Michael J. Butts, Mr. IGRA 2011.  Nice double sawtooth pockets with diamond snaps.

And check out these sharp-dressed IGRA 2010 Royalty:

(Many thanks to “geographer700” whose Flicker photo I “borrowed.”)

And while we’re on the subject, rodeo isn’t the only outlet for gay men who want to embrace their inner cowboy.  Or who just want to embrace other cowboys.  Gay cowboy dating sites abound, including Gay Cowboy Central and  And vacationing cowboys need look no further than modern-day dude ranches like Circle J and Rainbow Ranch in Texas that cater exclusive to gays and their families.

And finally, congratulations, New York State, for passing the Marriage Equality Act.  As Mayor Mike Bloomberg stated, “New York has become the strongest most dynamic city in the world and I think it’s safe to say that today we are stronger than we were yesterday.”  Happy Pride, everyone!

I leave you with today’s anthem, “Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly (Fond Of Each Other).”

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