Ready to Wear Clothing

Looking pretty snazzy . . .

Looking pretty snazzy . . .

“In the 1800s, cowboys and other manual laborers wore what was called “ready-to-wear” — second-hand clothing that had been discarded by the higher classes.

With few exceptions (such as military uniforms), new clothing was not mass produced back then. If you wanted an outfit, you went to a tailor, who measured you and custom-made the shirt, suit, trousers, coat, or whatever. If you out-grew your duds or just got tired of them, you might sell them to a second-hand (or ready-to-wear) store, where they would be bought by folks who needed inexpensive clothes for work.

That’s why you’d often see cowhands riding the range wearing a suit coat or vest and dress pants (rather than jeans). Also, many veterans continued to wear parts of their former uniforms for work.

By the way, did you ever wonder why chimney sweeps usually wore top hats and tuxedos? Well, the fancier the clothes were, the harder they were to re-sell… and the lower the second-hand price. Chimney soot was tough on clothes, so a black tux at a rock-bottom price was just what the sweep needed!” Cowboy Bob

Random Cowboy Beauty and Cash

Cowboys Hot Springs, Arizona  Maxfield Parrish

Cowboys Hot Springs, Arizona
Maxfield Parrish

I’m in a cowboy state of mind this past week–though as a kid I wanted to be an Indian. The more I raise animals and spend time with only the birds and the fields the more I appreciate hats and solitude–just like one of my characters, William Weldon. My son and I used to play this on the piano for his lessons. Maybe it’s a bit maudlin but so be it:

As I walked down in the streets of Laredo
As I walked down in Laredo one day,
I spied a cowpuncher, all wrapped in white linen
Wrapped up in white linen and cold as the clay.

“I see by your outfit, that you are a cowboy.”
These words he did say as I slowly walked by.
“Come sit down beside me and hear my sad story,
For I’m shot in the chest, and today I must die.”

“‘Twas once in the saddle I used to go dashing,
‘Twas once in the saddle I used to go gay.
First down to Rosie’s, and then to the card-house,
Got shot in the breast, and I’m dying today.”

“Oh, beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly,
And play the dead march as you carry me along;
Take me to the valley, and lay the sod o’er me,
For I’m a young cowboy and I know I’ve done wrong.”

“Get six jolly cowboys to carry my coffin,
Get six pretty maidens to bear up my pall.
Put bunches of roses all over my coffin,
Roses to deaden the clods as they fall.”

“Then swing your rope slowly and rattle your spurs lowly,
And give a wild whoop as you carry me along;
And in the grave throw me and roll the sod o’er me.
For I’m a young cowboy and I know I’ve done wrong.”

“Go bring me a cup, a cup of cold water.
To cool my parched lips”, the cowboy then said.
Before I returned, his soul had departed,
And gone to the round up – the cowboy was dead.

We beat the drum slowly and played the fife lowly,
And bitterly wept as we bore him along.
For we loved our comrade, so brave, young and handsome,
We all loved our comrade, although he’d done wrong.

Cowboy Hat History and a Few Friday Funnies

Roping a grey wolf. Everett Collection

Roping a grey wolf. Everett Collection

Will Rogers quotes swiped from www.truecowboy.com

There’s two theories to arguing with a woman. Neither one works.

 Never miss a good chance to shut up.

We can’t all be heroes because someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.

If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

I never expected to see the day when girls would get sunburned in the places they now do.

There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence.

What the country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds.

Diplomacy is the art of saying “Nice doggie” until you can find a rock.

An onion can make people cry but there’s never been a vegetable that can make people laugh.

If you’re riding’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there.

Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier’n puttin’ it back.

Chiricahua Apache

Chiricahua Apache

History of the hat:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stetson

http://bossoftheplains.blogspot.com/

Radio Lab interview with Jonnie Hughes author of The Origin of Teepees:

http://www.radiolab.org/story/boss-plains/