Amelia Bloomer Set Fashion on Its Behind

linda-sig.jpgIn western romance bloomers often refers to a woman’s undergarment. I’ve been guilty of this and have used bloomers on more than one occasion. While they were originally a type of women’s trousers, bloomers have since become synonymous with under drawers and pantaloons. But in Amelia Bloomer’s day they were baggy pants gathered tightly and buttoned at the ankle. They were worn under a skirt of a shorter length that allowed the lacy bloomers to show.

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Bloomers released women from their tightly laced corsets, layers upon layers of petticoats that could weigh over ten pounds, and long dresses that dragged the ground. Bloomers allowed freedom of movement. Women could at last ride bicycles and indulge in sporting activities. And it was all because of free-thinkers like Fanny Wright who first advocated a type of bloomer in the early 1800’s and Amelia Bloomer who made the garment fashionable in the 1850’s.

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Amelia Jenks Bloomer (1818-1894) married an attorney by the name of Dexter Bloomer. He was also a newspaper editor. She began writing a few articles for his paper pertaining to women’s issues. After attending the Women’s Rights Convention in Senaca Falls in 1848 she founded her own bi-weekly newspaper called “The Lily” and became a voice for many women reformers such as Elizabeth Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

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Initially, the newspaper focused on temperance and the women’s suffrage movement. But as the times progressed the articles became more about marriage law reform, higher education for women, the right to vote, and women’s right to employment without having to ask for her husband’s permission. The health and well-being of women were also a primary focus and that’s when Amelia advocated clothing for women’s comfort and the bloomers in particular.

She fashioned them after the Turkish women’s trousers. They were intended to preserve Victorian decency while being less of a hindrance. Here’s Amelia in her outfit.

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She said, “The costume of women should be suited to her wants and necessities. It should conduce at once her health, comfort, and usefulness; and while it should not fail also to conduce to her personal adornment, it should make that end of secondary importance.”

As you can imagine, she was met with overwhelming ridicule. The garment was deemed unfeminine and a moral outrage. Gradually, the bloomers faded away. Amelia herself gave up the fight after eight years and stopped wearing them, citing that it shifted the focus away from more important women’s issues.

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I can only imagine that these bloomers were a forerunner of today’s jeans. I love the comfort, freedom, and casual look of jeans. And they’re form-fitting and feminine.

How many of you are a jeans and shorts kind of gal? And do you think you would’ve worn bloomers in public if you lived back in Amelia’s day?

The Weaver’s Magic Garden

 

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It’s spring!  My thoughts turn to planting and what I’m going to do with my flowerbeds this year.

I can well imagine how much joy the gardens brought to the settlers of the Old West as they tried to scratch something valuable out of the soil.

wg5In my novels, I’ve mentioned all types of gardens. Or thought I had. There were those belonging to apothecaries and doctors – the herb gardens they planted to create remedies and cures.  There were those belonging to florists, who would plant their flowers for market. Restaurant cooks planted vegetables and herbs to use in their dishes. Private citizens grew produce, too, not to mention orchards for fruit wherever the land could sustain it.

But recently in my research, I came across a type of garden that took me by surprise. I’d simply never thought of it:  the town weaver and his or her special garden where they planted a spectrum of plants to create powders and liquids for the dyeing of fabrics.

That must have been fun! Wild bursts of color, rich seeds that started out pink and ripened to a rich berry, roots that dyed fabrics blue or black, or maybe some exotic plant from China that grew from fragrant seeds passed along from some stranger on a wagon train.

wg8The town weaver was a valuable asset to any growing Western town.  From their maze of looms, they produced blankets and coverlets, shawls and rugs. No scraps went to waste here. They collected rags from the community and produced cloth balls that had a dozen uses around the house—anything from knotting rope to hanging laundry to creating rag rugs.

 

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The photos of this weaver’s shop are circa 1860s.

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The color of the plant or flower doesn’t necessarily correlate to the end result of dye color. There are hundreds of plant choices. Here’s a sampling of some common ones, a few of which surprised me:

wg1sunflower – pressing the seeds creates a bright yellow oil; combining different plant parts produces dyes in the color of tan, gray, and green

indigo – rich blue color obtained from the leaves– the dye is colorfast, very desirable

goldenrod – root contains a brilliant yellow dye

wg2white birch tree – leaves give a yellow dye; inner bark creates lavender, tan, or purple

elderberry – purples and blues

bloodroot – juice of the stem and roots for the color red

flowering dogwood – bark produces a red dye; root produces violet wg3

Have you started your gardening yet? Do you prefer planting vegetables or flowers? Or neither? Have you ever hand-dyed an object? When I was younger, some of my friends dyed their leather shoes (ie. for dance class). I tried it once but they didn’t turn out right.

There must have been something special about the town weaver – a professional craftsman who knew what he was doing.

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The Lost Art of Ironing

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The lost art of ironing—I say this tongue-in-cheek because I’m glad those days are gone. But does anyone else remember growing up and helping their mom create wonderful, crisp little piles of folded sleeves and collars, and warm linens that draped so beautifully you could hang them in a store window?

And remember how good they smelled, coming in off the clothes line?

l1I was the only girl in the house, and as soon as I was tall enough to stand behind an ironing board, it was my job to press the tea towels and bed sheets. This usually took place once a week in the evening, in front of our black-and-white TV, watching Carol Burnett.

Tea towels were my favorite because I could easily manage their size. I’d fold one in thirds along the length, press the two seams, then fold it horizontally in thirds again, and press it. Those were the days before automatic steam irons, so I hand-sprinkled water onto the cloth, then lowered the iron to sear them, fully enjoying the sizzling and popping sounds I received as my reward. My mom’s tea towels came in all colors. I admired and appreciated each one, and noticed instantly if she ever bought a new pattern.

I guess it was a girl thing. 

We never had a lot growing up, in fact I think we only had one set of sheets for each bed, but they were always freshly laundered and pressed. Today, my mom would cringe at the state of my own linens, if I allowed her to look. But then, she never worked full time as a writer like I do, so it’s NOT MY FAULT. 

Recently on a visit to a pioneer museum, I stopped in the kitchen and marveled at the irons they had on display, resting on the stove where they were heating. There was more than one type? You could have several irons of various sizes and shapes? How decadent! 

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I wanted each one!

I’m not sure what I would do with them. Maybe, since I’m a writer, I’d just sit and gaze at the clunky irons and wonder about the mother-daughter stories behind them.

a3See the one with the ridges? It’s called a rocking style fluting iron and was used to ruffle, crimp, or press little pleats into starched fabric. It also gave the fabric a special sheen. Fluting irons were often used for collars and cuffs to give added distinction—and were in their heyday in the mid to late 1800s. Blacksmiths often forged cast iron stands, called trivets, for the fancier irons.

There were dozens and dozens of different types of irons. Slender ones for hard-to-reach places like sleeves, irons used just for hats, delicate laces, or for pressing flowers, or for billiard tables. And—I would have loved this—small irons made for children. I’ll never take my single iron for granted again!

Times have changed and I’m glad we no longer have to iron everything we wear. I’m in love with poly-cotton blends. My husband, God bless him, irons his own shirts and laundry. Yet, there’s still this little niggling of guilt that I don’t do it for him. It’s NOT MY JOB, I tell myself, and wonder where the guilt comes from. Probably because growing up in a house full of boys, I was the only girl and the only one assigned to ironing chores.

They turned out to be wonderful memories….

Have you seen the recent remake of the movie Hairspray, and John Travolta’s character as the mom who is the professional laundress? I would have loved that job!

Do you have happy ironing memories? Do you still love a good crease? <g> Did you ever make your own starch? My mom had a store-bought spray starch she used once in a while, but I was never allowed near it. What chores were you responsible for as a kid, and which ones did you enjoy the most?

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I’m giving away a book! WESTERN WEDDINGS, an anthology I share with Jillian Hart and our very own Filly, Charlene Sands, to one lucky person who posts a comment today.

 

 

 

 

And my new book is in bookstores now!  wanted-in-alaska-web-image

Click on the link to Amazon.  Wanted In Alaska (Harlequin Historical Series)

Visit me at www.katebridges.com

 

Cosmetics Through Time: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

 

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Do you ever wonder what it would be like to live without your lipstick?

Cosmetics have been around for thousands of years, promising to make our lips rosier, eyes brighter and complexions clearer. p2

In 4,000 B.C., Egyptian women lined their eyes with leaded paints and copper. This was poisonous to their health but they didn’t know it. For nail polish, the Chinese used beeswax, egg whites and gelatin, dating back to 3,000 B.C.. Certain colors were restricted to royalty. Using the wrong color nail polish was punishable by death.

In Greco-Roman times, the Middle Ages, and Elizabethan times, pale faces were much more desirable for women than any skin touched by the sun. A tan was considered crude and reserved for women who worked the fields. Unfortunately, this led to various creams applied to the face to reduce blood flow, such as lead paint or arsenic face powder, which caused illness.

p3In the mid 1800s, Queen Victoria declared that wearing makeup was vulgar, and should be reserved only for actors. Prostitutes used it, too. This rigid attitude carried over to North America, and so women rarely wore cosmetics until the late 1800s, toward the end of her reign. By the time her son King Edward VII became king in 1901, makeup and its manufacture was beginning to flourish.

On the Western frontier in the 1800s, wearing no makeup was often the preferred look, but there were little tricks women used to make themselves look better. Makeup that looked natural was usually the goal.

Blush: Pinching the cheeks made them rosier, also pinching the lips. Rouge was available to buy in small tins.

Mascara: Some women used beeswax on their lashes to make them look thicker. Kohl is a mixture of soot and other ingredients and was used on the eyelids and eyelashes to darken them—first used by  Egyptian queens. Darkening the area around the eyes also helped protect the eyes from sun glare.

In France, Eugene Rimmel was the first to develop a non-toxic mascara in the late 1800s, sometime before his death in 1887. It was a cake-like substance. Modern mascara as we know it was invented in 1913 by  T.L. Williams, a chemist, for his sister Mabel. He saw his sister applying coal dust and Vaseline to her lashes, and so he made and marketed the stuff. He named his company Mabelline as a combination of her name and Vaseline.

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Eyeliner:  Some women used burnt matches once they cooled.

Petroleum jelly:  Vaseline petroleum jelly was patented in the 1870s.

Hair removal: From about 3,000 B.C. women were removing body hair with scary ingredients they made from things like arsenic and starch. By 500 B.C. Roman women were removing body hair with razor blades and pumice stones, and using tweezers to pluck their eyebrows. By the early 1800s, European women were making homemade depilatories—walnut oil was one popular ingredient. From 1895 to 1904, Mr. Gillette perfected the development of his safety razor.

Underarm deodorant:  Mum deodorant was the first invented in 1888 by an unknown inventor from Philadelphia.

Lipstick: Egyptians used a type of henna to stain their lips—back then it was a poisonous substance made of plant dye, iodine and bromine. Cleopatra wore lipstick made from crushed carmine beetles, which gave her a deep red pigment. Lipstick became popular as we know it during the 16th century by Queen Elizabeth I, where lipstick was made from a combination of beeswax and red plant stains.

Acne fighters: Pharaohs in Egypt used a combination of mineral water mixed with sulphur. Ancient Romans bathed in hot sulphurous mineral water. During the 1800s, sulphur treatments were applied to the skin but it was very drying and didn’t always work.

Hair: Sheen was created by brushing the hair a hundred times at night; using lemon rinses; adding eggs to shampoo. Hennas have been very popular since Egyptian times to color the hair. Hair dyes were often used discreetly in England and America during the 1800s, although one didn’t admit it in public.

Max Factor is often referred to as the father of modern makeup. He was born in Poland in the 1870s (original name was spelled Faktor). Later, he moved to Moscow and worked with theatrical groups, where he created cosmetics, fragrances and wigs. He became the cosmetic expert for the Russian royal family. In 1904, he immigrated to New York with his family, and that year at the St. Louis World’s Fair, he introduced his handmade rouges, lipsticks, wigs and creams to American women. His items became so popular he developed his own line of cosmetics.

Besides my list, do you know of anything else women used for personal makeup and grooming? Do you recall anything your grandmother used? I once found an old curling iron in a trunk that didn’t have an electrical cord, but it was obviously intended to be heated in coals. I was shocked they thought of that way back then.

Is there a certain cosmetic that you couldn’t live without?

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These Boots Were Made For Ridin’

Today I’ll be taking a peek into some cowboy boot history and will be giving away this cowboy 
boot ornament to one of our comment posters. I have always had a boot fetish, from combat to cowboy, boots are one of my guilty pleasures.  My favorite pair at present are these brown moch side-button boots which I love dearly. The rest are a variety of tall, short and mid-calf boots. Tug on, side-zip and lace-up–I love them all! When it comes to cowboys, boots aren’t just fashion, they’re a necessity and contrary to a certain country song, they’re boots AREN’T made for walking. In fact, the wedged heal and narrow toe encourage them to stay in the saddle  😉 

So why do cowboy boots have those wedge heels? While in the saddle, the tall heel minimized the risk of the foot sliding forward through the stirrup, which could be life-threatening if it happened and the rider were to be unseated. There was often considerable risk that a cowboy would fall from a horse, both because he often had to ride young, unpredictable horses, but also because he had to do challenging ranch work in difficult terrain, that often meant that he could accidentally become unseated by a quick-moving horse. If a rider fell from a horse but had a boot get caught in the stirrup, there arose a very great risk that the horse could panic and run off, dragging the cowboy, causing severe injury and possible death. The tall shaft, comfortably loose fit, and lack of lacing all were additional features that helped prevent a cowboy from being dragged since his body weight could pull his foot out of the boot if he fell off while the boot remained stuck in the stirrup.

When mounting and, especially, dismounting, the slick, treadless leather sole of the boot allowed easy insertion and removal of the foot into the stirrup of the Western saddle. The original toe was rounded and a bit narrowed at the toe to make it easier to insert.

The cowboy boot is often described as descended from the Hessian boot, a boot style that which was common among cavalry in Europe in the 18th century. However, the northern European cavalry boot was not necessarily a direct predecessor. As the working cowboy was often underpaid, a mass-produced boot style, the Wellington boot (named after the Duke of Wellington) was popular with cowboys in the USA until the 1860s..

During the cattle drive era of 1866–1884 when the pay for cowboys rose somewhat due to overall increases in the price of meat, better wages, combined with a cowboy’s often-nomadic lifestyle, led the cowboy to invest in quality leather saddles and boots. While a cowboy was not apt to ruin a good pair of dress boots while working, basic style elements permeated even working boots, and made the Wellington obsolete. Thus, the style commonly known as the cowboy boot appeared in the mid 19th century, with the higher heel, elaborate stitching, and other decorative features distinguishing the new style from the military issue boots that preceded them.

This is a fun tidbit I got off the Hyer Boot site:

“The Hyer Boot Company was founded circa 1880 by brothers Charles and Edward Hyer. As boys they learned boot making from their father, William, a German immigrant who began practicing shoemaking after he came to the United States in the mid-1800s. Charles moved to Olathe in 1872 where he found work at the Olathe School for the Deaf teaching shoe and harness making. He opened a small cobbling shop on the side and hired his brother Edward to help him run it.

Tradition credits Charles Hyer as one of the first to invent the cowboy boot. Company promotional materials state that a Colorado cowboy stopped by the Hyer shop on his way home from the Kansas City stockyards in 1875, requesting a new pair of boots that were different from his Civil War-style boots. He wanted a boot with a pointed toe that would slide more easily into a stirrup, a high, slanted heel that would hold a stirrup, and a high top with scalloped front and back so he could get in and out of his boots more easily. Charles accepted the challenge. The unknown cowboy was so pleased with Hyer’s work that he returned to Colorado and told others about his new boots.”

So there you have it, some cowboy boot evolution—a style that’s still going strong today!

Anyone else remember tugging off your dad’s boots at night?  He’d drop into a chair and sometimes my brother and I would see who could get a boot off first—it wasn’t easy!  Anyone have cowboy boots kickin’ round in their closet?

Amelia Bloomer: A Style Revolution

Throughout American history until the early twentieth century, women’s clothing was restrictive and cumbersome.  Corsettes, stiff petticoats, crinolines, hoop skirts, bustles and busks were all designed to cinch, pad, flounce and lift, sometimes in layers, often in uncomfortable fabrics, draped and shirred and pleated to add even more weight.  Some of those styles were downright unhealthy!

 

One of the first women who chose more comfortable clothing was British-born Fanny Kemble, daughter of touring actors who married a plantation owner.  Critics were outraged over Fanny’s loose fitting pants that she wore under a skirt that came to her knees.  But coming to her defense on the pages of her Senecca, NY newspaper The Lily was Amelia Bloomer.

 

Born Amelia Jenks, she married Dexter Bloomer in 1840.  Dexter was an attourney and a publisher of a county newspaper.  When Amelia first wrote for his paper, she took up the cause of temperance.  In 1849 Amelia took over The Lily, a temperance newspaper.  Influenced by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia addressed issues of women’s rights, educating women about unequality and the possibility of social reform.  The paper became a model for other suffrage periodicals. 

 

Amelia, along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, adopted the mode of dress sometimes called the new American Costume.  The style was also referred to as Turkish pantaloons.  When Amelia staunchly defended the clothing, other papers picked up the story, referring to their clothing as bloomers.  Eventually Stanton and Anthony agreed to forego wearing bloomers so that their cause wasn’t seen as a mere dispute over clothing.

 

You might recall another woman who started a trend nearly a century later: the lovely Kathryn Hepburn wore trousers with stylish disregard for what was considered appropriate.  However Hepburn’s popularity and intelligence soon aided a style revolution that the country–and women–were ready for.

 

Later Amelia and her husband moved to Mount Vernon, Ohio and in 1855 to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where she continued to write and speak on the issues of women’s rights.  When age caught up with her, she left the battle for equal rights to her successors. 

 

Throughout the Village of Seneca Falls, NY there are bronze statues and monuments that bring the women’s movement to life.  One in particular is a real car stopper: Life sized sculptured figures of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Amelia Bloomer.  I would love to see these in person!

 

Not only are these women shining examples of the courage and tenacity it took to win equal rights for the sexes, but they pointed out the foolishness of nonfunctional clothing and changed the way people thought about fashion.

 

Thanks for dropping by Wildflower Junction!  I’ll draw a name from your comments today and send the winner a copy of my December anthology, THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS.

 

LEARN MORE ABOUT AMELIA BLOOMER

    ORDER THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS

My Men Wear Levi’s

 

I know why “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” is such a big hit. It’s the jeans. From teenagers to baby boomers, we can all relate. Slipping into a comfortable pair of jeans instantly lowers blood pressure, gets us humming, and on our best days, makes us feel sexy.

When I was in high school, the competition was between Levi’s®, Lee® and Wrangler®. These days, teenagers have a greater variety to choose from.  But I still love those originals.

In my Westerns, my men wear Levi’s. If they’re Mounties, they wear breeches while on duty, but off, they’re all in denim. There’s nothing like a man wearing only a pair of jeans, is there? 

      

Levi’s originated in San Francisco during the California Gold Rush. They were still popular twenty-five years later during the Klondike Gold Rush, where my books are set.  When I recently visited San Francisco, I discovered Levi’s flagship store in Union Square, the heart of the city. That’s it behind the palm trees at the top of the stairs.

In 1873, Levi Strauss was the first in the world to design a pair of blue jeans. He had a business partner, Jacob Davis, a tailor who came up with the idea for adding metal rivets. When their patent for metal rivets expired in 1891, dozens of other garment manufacturers added rivets to their jeans and jackets.   

Levi Strauss was born in Bavaria, Germany. When he was a boy (named Loeb at birth), he and his family emigrated to New York City. They ran a dry goods store. In 1853 when he was twenty-three, Levi moved to San Francisco. He opened a wholesale dry goods store of his own. Levi outfitted many smaller stores that were springing up all over the west coast. Items included jackets, overalls, coats, umbrellas and bolts of fabric.

Blue jeans were originally designed to withstand the wear-and-tear of the gold fields. The rivets gave extra strength to the pockets and kept the seams from ripping, while the denim twill weave was extra strong to withstand the assault of hard labor.

Denim twill weave gets its strength due to the diagonal ribbing that can be seen on the reverse side of the cloth. Maybe that’s why jeans mold to thighs and backsides like a great pair of leather gloves.

What’s the difference between denim and jean fabric? 

During weaving, denim has one thread that’s white, one that’s colored. Jean fabric has both threads in the same color. Hence those cheap imitations your mother tried to spring on you as a child.  “Oh, honey, they’re the same!”

The origin of the word denim is disputed. Some say it came from England, some France. Others say it was a mispronunciation of the French town where serge fabric was manufactured, “Serge de Nimes.” The debate continues.

There’s no clear reason why we began to interchange the word ‘denim’ with ‘blue jeans.’ In 1873, Levi’s blue jeans were originally referred to as ‘waist overalls.’

Regular ‘overalls’ (the kind with a bib) got their name because they were worn on top of trousers during work. In Britain, overalls were called dungarees. Dungarees got their name from the course calico cloth they were sewn from, originally from a place in India called Dongari Killa where the British had a fort. Dungaree cloth was thin and often poorly woven, and not to be confused with denim.

Blue jeans have always been a symbol of youth and rebellion. According to the Levi Strauss & Co. website, Bing Crosby was a big fan. In 1951 he went hunting with a friend in Canada, but when he tried to check into his Vancouver hotel, the front desk clerk wouldn’t let him in because his denims were not considered high class. The clerk didn’t recognize America’s most beloved singer. Luckily for Mr. Crosby, he was finally recognized by the bell hop. When Levi Strauss & Co. heard of his plight, they sewed him a tuxedo jacket, made of denim, of course. By 1958, newspapers claimed that ninety percent of America’s youth wore jeans everywhere except “in bed and in church.”

Jeans are more than a pair of pants. They’re a symbol of how we feel about ourselves. Don’t many women have a story about shedding a few pounds so they can get back into theirs? Valerie Bertinelli says so in her biography, LOSING IT.

Two years ago, I cleaned out my closet and finally threw out a pair I was saving…for over twenty years! I hadn’t realized it had been that long. They were already tight when I first bought them, and as soon as I had a glass of water, they no longer fit at all. Why was it so hard to throw them out? Maybe they were a symbol of my youth.

But you know what? Over the last few years, I’ve replaced them with some great below-the-belly-button jeans I hesitated to try before. (Mature women know what I’m talking about. Was I the only holdout?) The new ones look hipper than those other ones ever could and make me feel like a foxy mama.

Today I went shopping with my teenage daughter and she was thrilled to get a new pair of “skinny jeans.” Our parents used to say our jeans were painted on—today when I looked at my daughter, I knew how they felt looking at us.

So what about you? Do you have a favorite pair of jeans in your closet?  Or a favorite piece of clothing that makes you feel great when you wear it?

 What do your men wear?

 

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High-Steppin’ Through History

 

 

Inspired by Pam’s “shoe” theme, I started browsing the web and found some great sites on 19th century shoes. Being a visual writer, a picture can spawn an entire story so I thought I’d share some of the interesting sites, pictures and tid-bits I found. 

First up are antique 19th century embroidered shoes, which I adore! These are my kind of dress shoes! (Site: Angel Fire)

 

I happen to have a bit of a green fetish and just love these suede 5-strap button shoes.

Just as lovley are these white satin fan-tongue court shoes

Some shoe history from My Vintage Sole:

  • The 19th Century Shoes were lace-up styles and became popular in the late 1800’s and continued into the early decades of the 20th century. The lace-up shoes or boots are higher than the button-up shoes. The reason could have been that laces could be drawn tighter, giving more support for the high top.
  • An interesting point regarding Victorian Morality (Victorian Era 1837-1901) is that women’s ankles were to be covered to protect them from men’s prying eyes. Ironically though, the intricate tight lacings of the ankle boots had a titilating effect.
  • The higher, front-laced 19th Century shoes/boots had sturdier soles and became even more popular when Queen Victoria started wearing them at her Scottish castle Balmoral. The two-toned lace up boots have been known as Balmorals since then.
  • Glimpses of the foot exposed while walking inspired bootmakers to adorn their creations with silk fabrics and metallic thread embroidery. For revealing shapely ankles, buttons were preferred over laces.
  • In the 1890’s, ornately decorated boots with flowers and birds were worn by opera-goers and became known as “opera boots.”
  • During this time period walking boots could be functional as well as fashionable. Sensible, utilitarian boots were a cold-weather staple in the latter half of the 19th century. The typical walking boot was lined with flannel, had a half inch heel and cost about $5.50.
  • The early 20th Century is often referred to as the Edwardian Era (1901-1910) after Queen Victoria’s successor, King Edward VII. The elite of this day also referred to this time as the Belle Epoque, or “Beautiful Age”.  
  • In 1850 shoes become “crooked”, meaning they are designed so that there is a difference between the right and left foot.
  • In the 1860’s the “Louis” heel (curved outline, flared at base) appear on shoes and are still commonly seen on shoes and boot to this day.
  • In 1870 the high-button shoe or boot is in fashion. The most common high-button shoes that we associate with have the flap of leather that folds over the front and is fastened by buttons on the side.
  • A button-hook (metal hook used to pull button through button hole) is an essential tool for everyone owning a pair of high button shoes.

 
This is a replica of the ladies high top shoes, with holes on each side for laces. They have a toe cap (you can see the stitching for the toe cap in picture). The heels date from about 1867, but this shoe also has metal eyelets which were not patented until the 1890’s. They have rubber heels which were patented in 1889. Genuine black kid, American made.
 
 
While I’m on my vintage clothes kick, here’s an outfit to go with those lovley satin shoes…a marvelous classic circa 1865 lady’s two piece golden russet colored silk faille dress.  
I do believe that whole “barefoot and pregnant” saying is quite fitting, as any pregnant woman can attest…shoes simply do not fit in those last few months of pregnancy. Here’s a fine and elusive post Civil War three piece lady’s maternity ensemble.
Personally, I have two favorite types of shoes: boots in winter and flip-flops in summer…when not barefoot. In THE GUNSLINGER’S UNTAMED BRIDE one of my favorite scenes is when Juniper talks Lily into taking off her boots to walk barefoot through the river with him 😉
I have some replica boots with mock buttons up the side (zipper on the inside *g*) which tend to be my faves.  This summer I’ve been sporting green beaded dragonfly flip-flops. 

 
 
 

 

 How about you?  What is your favorite type of shoe?

 

 

 

**I also found a great page titled How to dress like a gentleman– A guide on the history of the gentlman’s shoe-dress like a true genta fun site if you’re interested! 

Rugged, Hunky Cowboy Attire

Stacey KayneIn my last post we  took a peek into my heroine’s carpetbag, giving us a view of Lily’s attire.  Last week I received the cover for THE GUNSLINGERGUNSLINGER’S UNTAMED BRIDE, and I was thrilled to see Lily in the background wearing a fabulous fashionable dress of her era.  Juniper is looking deliciously dangerous, his Stetson tugged low on his brow, hands hovering above his revolvers…his range coat whipping in the wind–which hopefully isn’t too chilling, as he didn’t have time to pull on his shirt.

I thought I’d take a look at the guys this time around.  Namely of the Cowboy variety.  While Juniper Barns is an ex-gunfighter in THE GUNSLINGER’S UNTAMED BRIDE, he’s also an ex-cowpuncher/cowpoke. I read somewhere that these terms came into use in the stockyards where cowboys used poles to prod (punch/poke) cattle into the appropriate pen and up the ramps of  loading chutes. 

When I think of cowboys, I automatically think wide-brimmed hats, range coats and cowboy Western Cowboyboots! In the book I’m currently writing (third in my WILD series) Garret Daines is a cowboy to the root of his soul.  Raised on the cattle trail, he’s finally owner of his own cattle ranch–which he’ll have to fight to keep.  His cowboy attire isn’t just hunky…it’s necessity, designed for his life in the saddle, and as much a part of his job as his horse and trusty cowdog.  Garret’s dog is a fun addition in this book.  Boots was a Christmas gift in the first WILD book, and saves Garret’s life in his own book. 

Here’s some fun facts on rugged Cowboy duds, listed head-to-toe, and how they protect and assist him:

Cowboy Attire

Cowboy Hat – a cowboy’s trademark, and usually made of high quality, durable felt. The wide brim shaded his eyes and protected his face and neck from the sun, as well as tree branches. In the rain, his hat acted as a mini umbrella and kept him warm–and could also be used to dunk into a watering hole for a drink.

Bandana – or as Lily calls it, “a multi-purpose tool”, provided extra sun protection and was also used as a dust mask while driving herd.  Juniper found his handy for tying up an unruly woman, and then as a useful bandage after her retaliation. 

Long Johns – while not the sexiest of his attire, these one-piece suits were usually made of red wool and served an essential purpose.  They kept him warm in winter, and in the summer, they also kept him cool.  The wool would absorb his sweat, acting as a coolant, and preventing his shirt from rotting.  Juniper likely could have benefited from a pair, as his shirt seems to have turned to dust  🙂

Shirt – long sleeved with a collar, even in the summer, again to provide protection from the sun, thorns, branches, and steers. 

maverick-2.jpgDuster – Long coat, range coat, this cowboy jacket was usually made of oiled canvas and would act as a rain slicker in wet weather and also protected him from the dust and thorny scrub.

Gloves – A cowboy needed a pair of buckskin gloves to prevent rope burns.

Pants – My cowboys tend to like denim britches, though wool was the most common.  Levi’s were available in the 1800’s and worn by some cowboys, but they began mainly as mining attire.  Suspenders were also used to hold up his britches.  Belts and decorative belt buckles didn’t gain popularity until the 1900’s.

Chaps – a sexy addition to any cowboy, or cowgirl.  Chaps protected pants and legs from thorny scrub, onrey steers, and biting horses.  They kept a cowboy dry in the rain and worked as a an anchor to hold him in the saddle of a bucking horse.  Chaps come in a few varieties, and I’ve used different styles in my books.  In MUSTANG WILD, Skylar wears armitas chaps, which are fringed on the side, ankle length and held in place by the buckle above the posterior and three straps that wrap around the backs of her legs.  In MAVERICK WILD Chance wears batwing chaps, they go clear to his boots, and flair wide down the leg and at the bottom, flapping out when he walks across the scene.  In the third WILD book, Garret is ranging during a Wyoming winter, and he wears woolie chaps, made of fluffy buffalo hide–an extra layer of warmth.  These fury chaps were also made from shaggy sheep wool.

Cowboy Boots – unlike the verse of a certain song, a cowboy’s boots were NOT made for walking.  It’s been said that a cowboy would try to do just about anything from a saddle, and for a good reason, his boots are made for riding.  The pointed toes and wedged heels didn’t make for comfortable long-distance treks afoot, but they worked great for slipping into stirrups, Western Spursand the tall shafts protected them from snake bites, thorns and horns. 

Spurs – On a large ranch, cutting horses (used to herd and sort/cut cattle) were rarely groomed which resulted in thick, matted horsehide.  Spurs were not meant to hurt the horses, but to act as a prod through densely matted horsehair.  In a lot of the old west movies, spurs jingle…but that wasn’t a necessity–jinglebobs were added decorations, as were silver conches on a the spur straps. The styles of spurs are endless.

Saddle – as much a part of a cowboy’s attire as his chaps.  While a cowboy rarely owned the horse he rode, he did own his saddle. Spending up to fifteen hours a day on his horse, a good Western Cowboysaddle was essential to his lifestyle, and could last up to thirty years of wear and tear.

Last but not least, his gun belt.  Most cowboys were packing, wearing a low riding holster which hung loosly at the hip.  Riding through rough country posed many dangers…coyotes, cougars, bears, and cattle rustlers.

Put that all together, and you’ve got a rugged and ready cattle wrangler.

So…what are the first images that come to mind when YOU think of a cowboy???

Inside Lily’s Carpetbag

Sam Elliot :::Sigh:::   This picture of Sam isn’t theme related, but he does make me smile and helps me to unwind while taking a breather from writing lockdown.  Somehow I went from having plenty of writing time on my next book, to chasing deadlines that snuck right past me. Realizing it was midnight, and I didn’t have a post for today (which officially started two minutes ago in CA– ack!) I tacked up this picture of Sam, sipped my tea and waited for him to tell me what I should blog about.  Sexy, rugged, reliable cowboy that he is…he told me.  He said, in that dreamy honeyed-hickory, baritone voice, “Let’s see what Lily has in her carpetbag.”    Lily’s Western Wear

For some reason, while developing the heroine for THE GUNSLINGER’S UNTAMED BRIDE, her wardrobe played a big role.  Lily’s an upscale San Francisco business woman (not my usual heroine) and I needed a crisp clear image of her daily office attire.  During my quest, I fell in love with antique and replica clothing sites.  I was able to find outfits that defined my heroine, or at least the persona she lived behind.  When Lily first hit’s the page, she’s rather rigid and stern–a woman on a mission who dresses for success and takes pride in her appearance.  This striped Lily’s Western Wear2dress suited her business side to a T, feminine yet prefessional. 

For her long four-day journy into the mountains, she packs durable, sensable clothing .  The russet number on the left is the perfect traveling coat for the long carriage ride.  Lily likes to maintain a professional outlook, but she’s not all drab colors and straight lines. She enjoys frills and fashion. I loved the swirls and fancy fabrics of this next dress.  Lily wears a similar dress on her arrive at the Pine Ridge Lumber Lily’s Western WearCamp.  Sophisticated and stylish, and completely mystifying to the rough-and-tumble lumberjacks—as well as Juniper when he first sees her. He can’t imagine what a woman of her stature would be doing in a lumber camp (beware of the Smith & Wesson in her skirt pocket!). 

While outfitting this heroine, I began to realize she was a woman quite hung up on labels.  She labels her workers by their job titles, and everyone she meets by the clothes they wear.  This poses a real challenge when she meets Juniper–his wardrobe is a clear contradiction to everything she’s come to believe about the gunslinger who killed her father.  As she’s dragged deeper into Juniper’s world, she begins to look beyond simple attire, and learns a lot Western Wear_Blueabout herself during the process.  As the story progresses and Lily’s rigid exterior begins to soften, so does her wardrobe.  The fabrics and fit become softer, giving her more room to breathe…and to love  😉  

This was the first time I’d ever “dressed” one of my characters.  When I started searching for period clothing sites, I had no idea how finding Lily’s wardrobe would help to craft this character.  

For anyone who’d like to check out more antique and replica clothing, here’s a few sites:

http://www.fashion-era.com

http://www.antiquedress.com

http://www.victorianelegance.com