Western Shirts: A Classic American Fashion

Overview

No longer found only on the backs of ol' cow hands from the Rio Grand or in closets that have been undisturbed for the last sixty years, cowboy shirts are now highly collectible pieces of Western Americana. But what distinguishes this one from the next?

Cowboy Shirts: Spirit of the West is the resource on understanding the history behind these uniquely American pieces of art, and on what to look for in collecting them. Because, while fashion trends may come and go, quality ...

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Overview

No longer found only on the backs of ol' cow hands from the Rio Grand or in closets that have been undisturbed for the last sixty years, cowboy shirts are now highly collectible pieces of Western Americana. But what distinguishes this one from the next?

Cowboy Shirts: Spirit of the West is the resource on understanding the history behind these uniquely American pieces of art, and on what to look for in collecting them. Because, while fashion trends may come and go, quality design and construction are always recognizable. The book contains a complete list of cowboy shirt labels (over 250 of them!) to help you identify the manufacturer and date of your finds. Written by insiders, the book also recounts the fascinating histories-and colorful characters-behind some of the major innovators and manufacturers, such as Rockmount Ranch Wear, Miller, H Bar C, Levi, and Pendleton among others.

Rowdy, rhinestoned, saucy, sturdy, colorful, or plain-Cowboy Shirts will make you want to kick up your spurs in Western delight as you follow them from practical wear, to costume, to fashion, to art.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586852481
  • Publisher: Smith, Gibbs Publisher
  • Publication date: 12/7/2004
  • Pages: 176
  • Age range: 15 years
  • Product dimensions: 10.25 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

G. Daniel DeWeese was raised on a ranch near the Black Hills in South Dakota. Dan studied creative writing at the University of South Dakota before going to West Africa with the Peace Corps. Dan has worn Western shirts all his life. He lives with his wife in Minnesota.

Steve Weil is the third generation to run his family's firm, Rockmount Ranch Wear Mfg. Co. His love for vintage Western wear began in high school when he raided his grandfather's closet for shirts from the 40's. Today he heads the company and is responsible for all design of the brand's many lines. Steve lives in Denver with his wife and son.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: A History of Western Shirts

Western wear began as a costume, but became part of a lifestyle. The early rodeo cowboys and actors in Western movies wore custom-made costumes. These clothes were fashioned by tailors or were homemade. The most famous tailors, Turk, Sing Kee, Rodeo Ben, Nudie, Fay Ward, and others, were genuine artists who sparked the creation of Western design, but their output and reach were limited. Their suits and shirts, though ornate and constructed with intricate detail, were flashy to the point of kitsch. They also only made one piece at a time and charged plenty for it. After all, they were tailors to the day's cowboy movie stars, the first entertainers with mass appeal.

In order to understand how Western fashion became popular, it should be put in the context of popular culture. The West was first popularized by dime novels. Billions of them were published during a fifty-year period beginning in 1860, according to the Buffalo Bill Museum in Golden, Colorado. This was the first mass-produced entertainment industry, something like the television of its day. Dime novels fed the myth of the West to the hero-starved East. The Wild West Shows of Buffalo Bill and the Miller Brothers' 101 Ranch took the West on the road, thrilling audiences across the U.S.A. and Europe. Silent films, and later "talkies," took off where the Wild West Shows had left off, perpetuating the romance and excitement of the West.

Dude ranches also played an important role in spreading the word. Eastern tourists began visiting the West by train during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and have been going ever since. The term "dude" may actually have as its origin a disparaging comment on the "duds" worn by city slickers pretending to be cowboys.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents (unedited!)

I. Preface

II. Introduction

III. Part 1 - The Shirt

- Chapter 1 The History of Western Shirts

- Chapter 2 Vintage Shirts as Collectables

- 5 Interviews with Collectors

- Chapter 3 Design Elements of Western Shirts

IV. Part 2 - The Manufacturers

- Chapter 4 Miller Western Wear

- Chapter 5 Rockmount Ranch Wear Mfg. Co.

- Chapter 6 H Bar C

- Chapter 7 Levi Strauss & Co.

- Chapter 8 Karman Inc.

- Chapter 9 Westmoor Inc.

- Chapter 10 Significant others: Blue Bell, Pendleton

V. Part 3 - The Labels

- Chapter 11 - Importance of Labels in Dating Vintage Shirts

- Label Index and Historical Guide

VI. Part 4 - Appendix

- Acknowledgments

- Sources of Vintage Western Shirts

- Bibliography

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