Sunday, April 22, 2012

Western Wear

One of my favorite Vintage Images
I am preparing my final lecture for Apparel and Textiles. The topic is Menswear and Western Wear.  The Vintage Image to the left is one of my iconic Dude Ranch scene!

Western Wear or cowboy dress is recognized around the world as a symbol of the independence and strength of the people of the American West.  The Western style evolved from the environment and the traditions of the vaqueros. Those early Mexican cowboys worked in  thorny vegetation in a hot dry climate. Their leather leg coverings and a wide brim hat became the Levi jeans and Stetson hat of the American cowboy. The bandanna, a working man's kerchief, added shade for the neck and protection for the mouth and nose during dusty cattle drives.  Those cattle drives started around the end of the Civil War. Thousands of Texas longhorns were trailed north to Kansas City with its vast stockyards and rail head. Novels, movies and Wild West shows featured the clothing of the actual cowboy dolled up for dramatic appeal
Teddy Roosevelt's love of the Western lifestyle, the novel, The Virginian, by Owen Wister along with the illustrations by Frederick Remington for Harper's Weekly all polished the image of the American cowboy. Wealthy easterners began visiting working ranches in the 1920s and soon adopted the clothing of the wranglers: cowboy hats, western style shirts, blue jeans and boots.
Posters by the Union Pacific also helped to romanticize the image of the West...and encouraged middle class vacationers to ride the train to a dude ranch location.
My friend Patrica from the G-M Ranch in Clyde Park, MT has told me how her family got into the dude ranch business. In 1934, the railroad contacted the ranches around Big Timber Montana...offering to send them paying guests. At that time, the ranch had just one cabin, Patricia's in laws actually moved into the barn that summer so those first guests could stay in the cabin. The business has grown to numerous cabins and a lodge with a commerical kitchen but the guests still help with the ranch work and enjoy daily horse back rides.

ps The trip to Havre was a delight! The area has some great quilters.

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