Westworld: Scifi Meets the Old West

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Let’s get this out of the way right from the get-go: Westworld (2016) is NOT a “historical costume” TV series in any way, shape, or form. What it is is really good sci-fi with some costumes that are theatrical takes on late 19th-century clothing worn in the “Old West.” If you’re looking for history, or a historical setting, or historical accuracy, move along, kiddo. If you’re looking for an entertaining and thought-provoking TV series, fire it up!

IMPORTANT SPOILER WARNING: One of the things that makes the first season of Westworld so interesting are all the layers of mysteries in the plot. I’m going to try not to give away any MAJOR plot points, but I will have to mention some things that aren’t apparent until midway through (or at the end of) the season. So, if you want to fully enjoy this show, I recommend watching it first, then reading this review!

Westworld TV show HBO

Yes, there is indeed a lot of this sort of thing!

Westworld is set in some unspecified time in the future at an “Old West” (yes, I’m going to keep putting that in quotes) theme park for REALLY rich people. The theme park is an immersive experience for the “visitors,” made even more so by being peopled by convincingly-human androids (“hosts”) who 1. don’t know they’re not human, and 2. accept the Old West world around them, including the visitors, as the real world. The series focuses on a number of interconnecting characters, including those who work to design, build, and program the hosts; visitors to the park; and some of the hosts themselves. It asks questions about what makes someone human, and the nature of time, and the roles of emotions, but it’s also just a damn interesting and entertaining story.

So why am I reviewing Westworld for Frock Flicks? Well, for one, to let any readers who were wondering, like I was, whether it was worth a watch (yes, but not if you really want it to be a historical show); and because the costume designers have said that they did a lot of historical research for the “Old West” costumes and aimed for a lot of realism, so I thought it would be interesting to take a look at those historical influences.

Costumes in Westworld

The costumes for the first episode were designed by Trish Summerville (no period film credits, but contemporary films like Gone Girl); then Ane Crabtree took over (Pan AmMasters of Sex, the not-period-but-still-interesting-to-mention forthcoming The Handmaid’s Tale). The Telegraph says that the costume designers spent a lot of time:

“…trawling images of people who actually lived in the Wild West from the 1850s to 1890s. ‘A lot of the time those photographs are actually people’s personal photos that you find online through their ancestry,’ [designer Ane] Crabtree remembers. ‘… It’s actually the most interesting and individual way to research and that’s where you find true character, when you look at people’s versions of that time. Western clothing was invented to be worn long term and in harsh climates and also for hard work, but there’s also this really cool thread of individualism that was super exciting to add to each character by looking at those photos.” (Why the Westworld costumes were so complicated to create)

So that end, let’s look at the major characters — well, those who wear “Old West” costumes — and look at 1. what the costume designers were going for, and 2. how the costumes relate to what was actually worn in the late 19th century West. That being said, re: #2 — it can be REALLY HARD to find visual sources for what was worn on a daily basis. There are, of course, tons of photographs from the late 19th-century American West, but most of these are posed portraits in which the sitter was wearing their best clothes. And while more casual photos certainly exist, trying to FIND them in any logical manner that doesn’t involve 30,000 hours trawling through image databases is very difficult. That’s what I had to do to find the images I’ve got here, so since I have a life, and have already spent 10,000 hours (rough estimate) on this post, my research isn’t going to be quite as thorough as I’d like…

1885c Cranberry Harvest Party

A good example of clothing worn casually in the American West. “Cranberry Harvest Party,” c. 1885 | Wisconsin Historical Society

The Hosts in Westworld: Good Girls

As opposed to the prostitutes! Again, looking specifically at those wearing “Old West” clothes (i.e., in the park)…

Dolores – Flashback

Dolores is the consummate Girl Next Door. She’s beautiful, she’s peaceful, she’s innocent, she’s pure, she’s kind…

Each time Dolores wakes up in bed, she’s wearing a sleeveless chemise with inset lace and ribbon “beading” (the woven-through ribbon — I always wonder why that is called “beading”?):

Westworld (2016)

Dolores is the perfect girl.

Yes, this is exactly the style of chemise worn in the period as a woman’s primary under-layer:

Chemise, 1880s | Metropolitan Museum of Art

We only get a quick glimpse at Dolores’s corset, in a scene where she’s painting by the river and has taken off her bodice. Most notably, it’s an underbust corset (meaning, it doesn’t cover the bust). Does she wear this all the time? Don’t know!

Westworld Dolores corset

Dolores’s underbust corset. Hey at least it’s worn right-side-up… WAIT. IS IT? The busk is being worn left-over-right (and yes, I looked for other images to be sure this photo hadn’t been flipped). So either it IS being worn upside-down, or whoever made it didn’t put in the busk properly. Ha!

Okay, so, underbust corsets pre-1900ish? Not a thing. Corsets always supported the bust in the 1870s-80s. (Yes, underbust corsets are totally a thing nowadays).

Your usual 1870s-80s corset covered and supported the breasts, like this one. Note right-over-left busk.
Wedding corset, 1887, Chicago History Museum

Underbust corsets (which were then worn with a separate bust-supporting garment usually called a “bust bodice”) didn’t come into style until the turn of the 20th century. Again, right-over-left busk.
Wedding corset, 1901, Chicago History Museum

And now, The Blue Dress:

Designer Crabtree has spoken about the color choice:

“I know that the color is very important to Jonathan Nolan, one of the show’s creators, and I can’t say 100% all the things that this color means, but I know that starting from the beginning, it was certainly a color that existed in the 1850s — 1890s in terms of the West. It’s also a color that makes her come up in the forefront of every scene because there’s straw and dirt and earth tones. This way, she pops from the frame. We reserved that color for her throughout the whole of the show. It just looks so beautiful, and it’s a simplistic design choice because it hearkens to the West. It’s the color of the sky, and where we’re shooting in terms of the desert, it really stands apart from that landscape, especially if you’re talking about wide, expansive shots in Utah where everything is very red. It began as a very easy choice – what’s going to make her stand apart from the locales? Further than that? That’s all Jonathan, so I can’t speak to that.” (The Colors of Westworld)

and

“Blue has a long history as a colour of innocence and purity — look at any depiction of the Virgin Mary, and she’ll be wearing blue, so it seems a significant hue for Dolores Abernathy, played by Evan Rachel Wood and the oldest inhabitant of the show’s Western-themed theme park. ‘There are so many secrets on Westworld so I don’t actually know Jonathan and Lisa’s ultimate reason for having her in blue — it’s quite a giant rabbit hole of reasoning and inspiration… We wanted Dolores to stand out in the frame though. It’s a beautiful rich blue which photographs incredibly in the locations which we have. In reality also it’s a colour that existed back in the 1800s.” (Why the Westworld costumes were so complicated to create)

Looking at the dress itself, it’s very late 1870s/early 1880s, what is often called the “natural form” era:

Westworld (2016)

It’s made from a slate blue, nubby, linen-esque fabric. The bodice has a low, scoop neck and is trimmed with a beige-y woven trim and a pleated ruffle.

Westworld (2016)

It’s a separate bodice and skirt — the bodice closes center front with buttons and extends below the waist in a “basque” style.

Westworld (2016)

The skirt is an A-line, narrower at the hip, fuller at the hem, and she wears at least one petticoat underneath.

Let’s compare this dress with what real Western women were wearing in the 1870s-80s. If we look at posed portraits, we see very similar styles to those worn on the East Coast or in Europe. Of course, it took time for fashion news to travel to the Midwest and West Coast, but it definitely got there! And while a woman on a ranch might not have 100 dresses, she definitely had a best dress that was relatively up-to-date, at least within a few years:

This Texas woman wears what is probably the most similar to what Dolores is wearing, a long, basque-waisted bodice; fitted-ish sleeve; A-line, full skirt. This lady may be wearing a small bustle pad over her bum. Portrait of a Woman, 1875, Texas, Gillespie County Historical Society

A little bit later, with less skirt fullness; still along the lines of Dolores’s dress, although it has the skirt drapery typical of the era (which is missing from Dolores’s dress). This is the period in which dresses still draped towards the back, but bustles weren’t worn. Cerissa Mott age 17 yrs, 1879, Nevada, University of Nevada, Reno, University Libraries

We can’t see whether she’s wearing a bustle in back or not. Photograph of a Woman in a Dark Dress, 1882-1907 [it’s definitely closer to 1882], Kentucky, The Williamson Museum

Now we’re getting to the mid-1880s, when a draped overskirt would be required; she’s definitely wearing a bustle. Full length portrait of Belle Ryon Davis, [mid- to late-1880s], Texas, Fort Bend Museum

Now we’re into the 1890s, which you can tell by the puffed-top sleeves, and past Dolores’s era.  Portrait of an Unknown Woman, 1878-1909, Texas, Friench Simpson Memorial Library

Dolores isn’t dressing up in her Best Dress to have her portrait taken, is she? So let’s look at some more casual wear for comparison, in which we’ll see some women wearing similarly well-tailored styles as Dolores, and others even more casually dressed:

The girl on the right is wearing a “Mother Hubbard,” a loose work dress. The ladies left and center are wearing fitted, structured bodices and skirts along the lines of Dolores’s dress. “Glenbrook,” 1875-1900 [I’d say 1880s], Nevada, University of Nevada, Reno Library

Lots of blouses and skirts along with aprons and Mother Hubbards. Notice how messy the hair is!  “People by a covered wagon,” 1880-89, Utah, Brigham Young University

The little girl (center) looks dressed up, while left and right are more practically dressed. The girl on the left has a lightweight cotton bodice but it’s pretty fitted.  Amos Warren, Springville [Utah], 1880-1920, Brigham Young University

The girl far left reminds me the most of Dolores — fitted bodice, long skirt, decorative apron. The older woman (center) is dressed for work, and the girl on the right is still in a shorter-length girl’s skirt.  Elyth Lewis, Spanish Fork [Utah], 1880-1920 [I’d say 1880s], Brigham Young University

The fuller sleeves are from a later style, but these dresses again have the tailoring and fit of Dolores’s gown.  Mrs. E. Marshall, Salina Utah, 1880-1920 [I’d say late 1880s], Brigham Young University

Very practical, but they still have full skirts with pleated ruffles on the hems!  Scofield [Utah] Grocery Store, J. K. Percell Store, 1880-1920, Brigham Young University

The main thing we don’t see in any of these photographs is a lower neckline for daywear. Low, usually square necklines were typical of afternoon and evening dresses in the early 1870s. It’s another element that helps date Dolores to the early- to mid-1870s, although the fact that she’s wearing it as a day dress (given the fact that she probably couldn’t afford very many dresses, and so wouldn’t have cause to own an “afternoon” dress as opposed to a day dress) is suspect from an accuracy angle:

A low, square neckline was very fashionable in the 1870s… but would be more likely to be worn for a specifically “afternoon” or evening dress. Maria Federovna in middle 1870s day dress, via Gogmsite

As a side note, the blue dress features an interesting technological innovation. According to Crabtree, “The blue dress worn by Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) had to be recreated from the pilot, which meant finding an alternative to the vintage fabric that was no longer available when the show went to series. It wasn’t just about making many versions of the exact same thing and sometimes variations of an important costume were made by Crabtree because ‘on set there was a million theories so I was always sort of designing for a million theories just in case’ (‘Westworld’ Secrets From Costume Designer Ane Crabtree).” In order to do so, they “…had to [3D-print the fabrics], because we needed multiples of everything. Dolores’s [Evan Rachel Wood] outfit, for instance, involves a bodice, a skirt, and a petticoat, and we had enough of the original vintage fabric to make three or four of each. But then we reprinted about four more in 3D, because we needed to dress her stunt double, too (Of Course Westworld’s Costumes Are 3D-Printed, Too).”

Now, I would rant about Dolores’s hair, which is 1. since it’s worn down, a style that would only be worn by young girls, and 2. ridiculously perfect, as it bugged me throughout most of the series — until I realized that of course it’s perfect and romanticized! She’s the perfect girl next door, of course she has to have princess hair!

Westworld (2016)

There’s nothing historical or realistic about Dolores’s hair, but that’s the point — it suits her character!

Dolores – Current

Designer Crabtree says:

“Dolores’ two costumes represent aspects of both timelines; the way the fight sequence with Man in Black played out in ‘The Bicameral Mind’ cutting between Dolores in her feminine blue dress and her practical cowgirl attire was one way to show just how disorientating things are for a host stuck in these loops. Whereas the blue dress is [original costume designer] Trish Summerville’s creation, the pants look is all Crabtree.” (‘Westworld’ Secrets From Costume Designer Ane Crabtree)

Westworld (2016)

Dolores’s “cowgirl” look: men’s button-down shirt, trousers, boots, and belt with gun and holster.

Did women ever wear pants/trousers in the Old West, as so many Western movies like to depict? OCCASIONALLY, if the woman in question was literally dressing as a man, like Calamity Jane, a frontierswoman, professional scout, and later performer:

Cabinet photograph captioned in the negative, Calamity Jane, Gen. Crook’s Scout, 1880s, via Wikipedia.

But, by and large, our image of 19th-century cowgirls in pants is one that was created by theater and movies. I’ll let a memoir of the late 19th-century West ‘splain things:

“There is something else that I have seen in rodeos, and occasionally in illustrations of Western stories in magazines that I take exception to. That is, girls wearing pants! In my whole experience on the range, I never saw a cow-girl. Girls in those days rode side-saddles, and wore long skirts to ride in. Under no circumstances would they be seen wearing trousers and riding a horse a-straddle.” (Deep Trails in the Old West: A Frontier Memoir)

Although this is clearly an upper class woman dressed in formal riding clothes, not work wear, the skirt and side-saddle are still key.
“Woman on a White Horse,” I’m guessing 1880s, Texas, Heritage House Museum

Maeve – Flashback

Maeve has two different outfits in her flashback scenes, both full skirts and blouses:

Westworld (2016)

This outfit looks very similar to the informal photography shown above.

Westworld (2016)

I have no idea about the sleeveless blouse she’s wearing here — is it supposed to be a chemise or corset cover? Because I’ve never seen ANYTHING like it in the period. Notice Maeve’s daughter…

Whose dress and pinafore looks just like those seen in photography of the period!  Photograph of Horse-Drawn Cabin, 1889-1890, Texas, The Portal to Texas History

Angela

She blips in and out of different roles, but the main one I want to talk about is when she’s posed as a victim of the really-horrible-outlaw-whose-name-I-can’t-remember:

Westworld (2016)

This looks to be a cotton chemise worn under a soft, corded, button-front, shoulder-strapped corset.

Most corsets of the era look like the one I posted above, but this isn’t completely crazytown:

Yes, occasionally corsets had straps in the 1870s-80s.
Corset, 1880s | Metropolitan Museum of Art

And soft, corded, unboned, button-front corsets for work or sports did exist! “Corded cotton button-front sport corset with crocheted mesh cups, c. 1870s-1880s.” | via Pinterest

“SIDE LACING SPORTS’ CORSET, 1875-1885” | Augusta Auctions

The Westworld Hosts: Prostitutes

The prostitutes in Westworld wear flashy, shiny, fashionable to the mid- to late-1870s bustle gowns with evening necklines and sleeves. Designer Crabtree said:

“Their look comes from a lot of reading I’ve done about the ‘soiled dove’ which is a great term for a prostitute… There are great books about it which I read 17 years ago and re-read for this. There weren’t a lot of job offers or things for a woman to do in the Wild West and of course being a prostitute or if you were lucky, a madam, was one of the main jobs. They do refer to that career as ‘soiled doves’ and how they were beautiful jewels in the midst of quite desert-toned Western clothes worn by the men, so they always stood out.” (Why the Westworld costumes were so complicated to create)

Westworld (2016)

Maeve, the madam.

Westworld (2016)

Evening neckline and sleeves, shiny fabric, draped overskirt, and a lot of accessories.

Westworld (2016)

Clementine (right) is the other key prostitute character.

Westworld (2016)

Her outfit is VERY similar to Maeve’s.

Westworld (2016)

Both Maeve and Clementine sometimes wear their dresses without the underskirts…

Westworld (2016)

… but I’m pretty sure only indoors.

So now, what did real prostitutes wear in the Old West? Oh goody, the totally-hard-to-document thing! The problem is most of the photographs of known prostitutes were again posed portraits, and prostitutes would have even MORE reason to want to look respectable and/or fashionable (“screw you! I’m rich and fabulous!”) than your average woman!

Here’s some photographs of known late 19th-century Western prostitutes, all dressed fashionably:

Almost perfectly period for mid- to late-1860s, although her blouse looks very menswear — I wonder if this is some kind of Civil War thing? Edited to add: duh, just noticed the fireman’s hat to her left. Clearly this is some kind of fireman’s uniform reference! Julia Bulette (Nevada), before 1867 | Via Wikipedia

Totally up to date and formal. Mattie Blaylock (Kansas), I’m guessing late 1870s | Via Wikipedia

Going full fashion! Mattie Silks (Illinois, Kansas, and Colorado) | Via Wikipedia

Ain’t nothing slutty about this madam and her daughters! Jane Elizabeth Ryan (Colorado) and her three daughters, I’d say late 1880s, via Google Books

But what did prostitutes wear when they were on the job? I’ve read some primary sources mentioning underwear, and a lot of unsubstantiated popular history saying that they might wear “tastefully revealing attire” (Upstairs Girls: Prostitution in the American West) or “flannel or cotton night-gowns… [or] a thin house-dress with nothing underneath… [or] no clothing whatever except slippers and stockings” (The Barbary Coast: An Informal History of the San Francisco Underworld) — but I have a rule of not trusting unsourced popular histories.

Here are a very few potentially-casual images I’ve found for some real documentation:

I’m guessing early 1900s, based on the standard-fashionable clothing being worn.  Denver (Colorado) bordello, Our Ladies of the Tenderloin: Colorado’s Legends in Lace via Google Books

Really hard to tell exactly what’s being worn on the ladies in the window; the ones on the street seem to wear standard daywear. And, of course, no idea whether the caption on this image is trustworthy… “Old west brothel, named simply “The Club” | via Pinterest

Standard 1890s daywear. Supposedly Jennie Bauters’ brothel, Jerome, AZ | Jerome Historical Society/Tours of Jerome

Our Ladies of the Tenderloin: Colorado’s Legends in Lace via Google Books

Dressing or night gowns. Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work via Google Books

A very obviously posed studio portrait showing shorts (!!) along the lines of Westworld’s sans-underskirt look. You see similar looks on actresses and other performers of the period. “Saloon Girls Lottie & Nellie Virginia City” | Via Pinterest

Westworld (2016)

Sparkles!

On a side note, Crabtree was asked about the prostitutes jewelry: “Those came from Joseff of Hollywood, this incredibly cool old-world place that made all the jewelry for Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyck’s classic films. Going there is like going to a museum — it’s one of the few places left like that. (Of Course Westworld’s Costumes Are 3D-Printed, Too).”

The Westworld Hosts: Good Guys

Alright kids, I’ve run out of steam, so here’s what you get for boy-related discussion. Most of the interviews given by the designers seem to be more referencing Western films than real historical clothing:

“In the West, it became a thing that the white hats were the good guys and the black hats were the bad guys — it became a kind of unsaid western rule; the Sheriff wore the white hat. The John Wayne or the Gary Cooper had the white hat while the dangerous villain or the ones who were dark and sexy had black. It’s based in reality but we use it for character story in Westworld… It’s the hardest decision I tell you. It takes as long to decide on what hat style because it’s the first thing people see in these wide, expansive shots so it means so much.” (Why the Westworld costumes were so complicated to create)

Westworld (2016)

Teddy wears a blazer, waistcoat, trousers, and wide-brimmed “cowboy” hat.

Westworld (2016)

Note the open-neck shirt and lack of neckwear. I was initially thinking that the pants in this series were too modern, but…

Comparing that look with real historical clothing:

This man’s suit, worn for a formal photograph, follows similar style lines with the addition of a closed, white shirt and tie. Photograph of Jemima Moore and Jim Welch, 1885-90, Texas, Private Collection of T. Bradford Willis

Various sizes and shapes of brimmed-hats, but none of them are the standard “cowboy” hat. Also, the gents are buttoned up to the neck. Notice, however, how modern the pants look! “People by a covered wagon,” 1880-89, Utah, Brigham Young University

A range of options for more-casual-wear.  Tidwell, Utah, 1880-1920, Brigham Young University

The main observation I have is that from my reading, bowler hats would have been much more popular in the era than the Stetson/”cowboy” hat.

The Westworld Hosts: Bad Guys

Westworld (2016)

Armistice, a bad woman who dresses like a man, which is much more accurate than Dolores’s feminized version.

Westworld (2016)

Hector, my current crush and lover of all things leather.

Westworld (2016)

Including leather motorcycle jackets.

Westworld (2016)

Rowr!

What did real bad boys of the Old West wear? Very similar clothing to that worn by any other man!

Sometimes they went less formal… Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday, Jesse James and Charlie Bowdre, in Las Vegas in 1879 | via Wikimedia

Sometimes in work wear… “Robert Ewing “Bob” Younger (October 29, 1853 – September 16, 1889) was an American criminal and outlaw, the younger brother of Cole, Jim and John Younger. He was a member of the James-Younger gang” | via Wikimedia

They also dressed up. Jesse and Frank James, 1872 | via Wikimedia

And REALLY dressed up (note bowler hats)!  “Butch Cassidy as part of the Wild Bunch at Fort Worth, Texas” | via Wikimedia

The Westworld Visitors

Again, these costumes were much more influenced by film than not:

“For them, we looked to fashion from the 1850s through the 1890s, and mixed it with very iconic references from Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns. We also looked at images of Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, and even Steve McQueen to create these rugged, manly looks that’d make the guests feel like they were stepping into another time. It’s by design, by the way, that we made the guests’s outfits a lot more opulent and beautiful and bespoke; they’re supposed to feel superior to the hosts.” (Of Course Westworld’s Costumes Are 3D-Printed, Too)

Westworld (2016)

Logan. Hey, he’s got neckwear!

Westworld (2016)

I really like the shape of Logan’s (right) hat. Good guy William (left) is very casual, very white-hat.

Compare them to yet more average-guy-wear from the period:

Photograph of Horse-Drawn Cabin, 1889-1890, Texas, The Portal to Texas History

Two men, 1890-1900, Colorado, Denver Public Library

Of the Man in Black, the ultimate baddie, Crabtree says:

“There’s a very old-school hippie weaver in upstate New York, near Woodstock, who wove the fabric for his jacket. We had another artisan hand-paint it afterwards. And his hat we got at Baron Hats — I was totally starstruck walking into that place, because everyone in Hollywood goes there to have hats made, and they have all these beautiful wooden hat forms on display.” (Of Course Westworld’s Costumes Are 3D-Printed, Too)

Westworld (2016)

The literal Man in Black.

Westworld (2016)

Yep, he’s in black!

For comparison… Black Bart, American stagecoach robber, 1888 or earlier | via Wikimedia

And at least one female visitor decides to go Team Menswear:

“In episode 3, we put the beautiful Bojana [Novakovic, who plays Marti] in a vest and cowboy hat. That was cool because it was the first time we got to put a woman in that rugged gunslinger role — and she looked so sexy! It was fun figuring out how to make the women look just as powerful as the men. And I definitely believe that some of the women visiting the park would look at the men’s outfits and say, ‘Fuck it, I want to be a badass, too!'” (Of Course Westworld’s Costumes Are 3D-Printed, Too)

Westworld (2016)

I’m not too sure about her semi-fitted, sleeveless blouse from a historical angle, but I can totally imagine a contemporary woman wanting to wear something like that in their fantasy version of the Old West, so, sure!

 

Have you seen Westworld? What did you think of the mix of historical and film references in the costumes?

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

11 Responses

  1. Fran in NYC

    I enjoyed this series very much! I think the designers had to walk a fine line between the real Western clothing and what the guests would expect & like, based on their fantasies about that time & place. I thought they did a great job threading that needle.

    Reply
  2. mmcquown

    There are pictures of women mine workers wearing pants under their skirts while working. The one picture near the top of a woman in pants, the one with all the buttons down the sides, might be chaps, but then she would have had top be wearing something under them.

    Reply
  3. Bronwyn Mroz Benson

    I really enjoyed Westworld and never even thought about the accuracy they might’ve been going for. This was really interesting to read!

    (The other prostitute with Maeve is Clementine, btw.)

    Reply
  4. Janis Martin

    In the first introduction to Logan, he and William enter the compound and are shown “bespoke clothes” (specifically mentioned as such). He goes off to have a tumble with one of the hosts and comes back to meet William. Getting himself together, he zips up his trousers. The show made it into a moment, complete with the sound effect of the zipper.
    Bespoke? History be damned. Took this costume designer right out of the story line. Get some honest-to-god button fly trousers!

    Reply
  5. picasso Manu

    Undergarments often trips those shows off, don’t they? I seem to recall from an earlier post that this one is a repeat offender in the “wear corset upside down” thing.

    Once is an accident, more is… Willful ignorance?

    Hair looks good, even if most of the hairpin budget went to the “ladies of the night”… Even hairpiece there, I’m impressed! (not so much with the Disney Princess, but you can’t have everything, I suppose… *sigh* )

    Reply
  6. Morgan Wilson

    I love the upside down corset. Definitely paused the show at that point to clarify to my husband that that was not right. He didn’t care. Ha!

    Also, for your picture of Julia Bulette, I remember reading that she was made an honorary firefighter in Nevada. I’m not sure why (besides the obvious) though I think she may have donated a lot of money? I always remember her picture because she’s just so tall.

    Great post Kendra!

    Reply
  7. Teresa

    I remember reading that Julia Bulette was, in fact, a patron of the firefighters–she did make generous donations to the fire brigade (or whatever they called it). Visit Virginia City, and you can see her grave site, set some distance from other graves and surrounded by a white picket fence.

    Reply
  8. janette

    Really interesting post. I especially enjoyed the old photos. (Love old photos) I once worked in a historical theme park in Oz. We were told the prostitutes dressed pretty much the same as everyone else only their skirts were slightly shorter. The men’s trousers were buttoned, something that new staff/volunteers always complained about.

    Reply
    • mmcquown

      Let me say this about that: I have worn both zippered and buttoned trousers, and I have come to this conclusion: if you lose a button, you can still wear the trousers; if the zipper goes, forget it! That’s why most military trousers are buttoned.

      Reply

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