And For More “The Wild Wild West”…

Wild Wild West1

While James West might have been the star of The Wild Wild West, he could not have succeeded without the help of his associate Artemus Gordon, played by Ross Martin. Although just as suave and debonair as West, Gordon was more the cerebral type, utilizing his mastery of disguise and mechanical devices to foil the villains’ various nefarious plots. Gordon’s mechanical device were often instrumental in rescuing West at some critical moment. It was a perfect contrast to West’s more direct physical approach and provided a nice one-two punch that set the show apart from either the usual sorts of Western or spy television series of the 1960s.

Today we’ll take a brief look at Gordon’s costumes which tended towards the flashy (when he wasn’t in disguise). We begin with a few in black and white:


Gordon dresses just as flashy as West although his clothes tended to be a bit more functional (no wardrobe malfunctions here! 🙂 ). Interestingly enough, the gunbelt pictured above is far more historically accurate than the usual run of low-slung “buscadero” rigs that were usually used in film and television Westerns during the 1950s and 60s.

Below are a few pictures of Gordon in his various disguises:

And here are a few of Gordon as himself- note that like West, the colors on Gordon’s outfits were selected to take advantage of the newly emerging color television technology: 🙂


Gordon’s bright blue suit with complementing tie and waistcoat makes an interesting contrast to West’s more understated brown/green color palette.


And here we have a contrast between Gordon’s brown windowpane plaid coat and West’s hunter green jacket. And finally, here’s Gordon and West at their finest:


The above is a little over-the-top, combining 1960s rental wedding wear with older elements. The waistcoats could work for c. 1900 although the ivory silk satin might be pushing things a bit (by the 1870s, waistcoats/vests were becoming subdued). It’s hard to tell from the picture what sort of coats they have on but they work. The shirts are a bit overdone with the ruffled sleeves; it definitely reads 1960s formalwear. While the above outfits are by no stretch of the imagination representative of the historical 1870s, they work for the purposes of the show. 🙂


A Brief View Of Men’s Clothing- The Frock Coat

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In a previous post, we gave an overview of the sack coat and sack suit during the late 19th Century from 1870 through 1900. While the sack suit was probably one of the most commonly worn outfit for men, there were other styles that bear mention, principly the frock and morning coats.

The frock coat got its start in the early 19th Century as an informal alternative to the dress coat (also referred to as the tailcoat or claw-hammer coat) and as such, was a coat with full skirts that extended to the knee and had a distinct waist seam that gave it a tailored appearance. In contrast to dress coats, the skirts on the frock coat was constructed of distinct upper and lower pieces rather than being cut as one piece.

In the examples below, the difference between the types of coats is readily apparent and especially in the skirt:

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Note the distinct, fuller skirt pieces on the frock coat. Also, frock coats could be single or double-breasted:



Frock coats were primarily made from wool although other materials such as linen were also used. In terms of color, frocks coats came in a variety of colors with darker colors predominating. Also, frock coats were made in both single and double-breasted styles; the double-breasted style was considered to be more formal than the single-breasted version. Finally, the frock coat could be worn open or closed.


Here’s an example of a frock coat made from linen:


Frock Coat, c. 1860 – 1870; Augusta Auctions

Below is an early version of the frock coat. As the 19th Century progressed, the skirts gradually became less exaggerated:


Frock Coat, French c. 1816 – 1820, constructed of wool/silk twill; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (M.2010.33.7).

And now some from the 1870s:


From Gazette of Fashion, and Cutting-room Companion, 1870


Frock Coat, American, c. 1870s; Kansas State University Museum (1984.21.1 ab)

And the 1880s:


Frock Coat, c. 1880 – 1890; McCord Museum (M973.49.7)

And finally, the 1890s:

Frock Coat1

Frock Coat, c. 1890; Victoria Albert Museum T.624-1996)


As a general rule, frock coats became shorter and more tailored with a slimmer silhouette and were often worn with a pair of lighter-colored trousers as shown in some of the pictures above. Also, it’s interesting to note that during the 1880s and 90s, we increasingly see frock coats being worn open with wide lapels.

Frock Coats1

Frock Coats2

For people desiring to recreate period fashions of the late 19th Century, the frock coat offers one possibility for those desiring a more formal, conservative look. However, it must be noted that the frock coat is more representative of the period prior to the 1870s and as such, it was being supplanted by the morning coat for formal wear. In a future installment, we will be covering the morning coat so stay tuned! 🙂

(To Be Continued)

Show Update #2

It’s getting towards showtime and Karin is working furiously on her new creations. Below is the latest one, on a stunning Absinthe – Arsenic – Apple Green:

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Gold Corset

In these pictures, the color almost appears to be brilliant gold. It’s positively glowing and just a small sample of what we do!


Here’s our model Catlin of Killer Cupcake Photography posing in the corset:

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Definitely has an Original Sin vibe going on here!!

Karin summarizes perfectly:

“Can you tear your eyes away from our mesmerizing snake charmer? Beware her serpently wiles…”


This is just the first of many postings regarding the Cirque Chapeau show. Although it was a small gathering, it was well attended and the entertainment was top notch with the legendary Pop Hayden performing his “Magnetic Water” sketch.

And of course, along with the fabulous fashions were some fabulous ladies to model them, making for a stunning one-two punch. Stay tuned for more to follow….


Your reporter with some friends…

And of course, the one who put things together on the corsetry end, our own Karin McKechnie!