The Old West

From the historical to B-Western to today’s re-imagining of the Western Genre in film, we cover it all. When asked the question “What clothing did they wear in the West?” We reply: “The same as what they wore the East (or Europe, for that matter).” 😉


In all truth, women’s clothing in the West followed the same styles as what was worn in other parts of the country although styles were often reinterpreted on a less elaborate level. Later, with the advent of movies and later television, we see various interpretations of the clothing people wore in the context of storytelling and while perhaps not historically accurate, they occupy an important place in fashion and to us, that is all good. There is no “right” way and we make it all to suit the one person who counts: our client.

Linda Darnell

Linda Darnell

And here is the Lily Absinthe answer to the B-Western approach, with stunning embroidered and beaded silk corsets and lush ruffled skirts, each one representing a different style of the “Saloon Look” we’ve seen since the westerns of the 1940s.



Remember Marilyn Monroe in “River Of No Return”? Here’s the Lily Absinthe version of that iconic gown…but on a sizzling redhead!

48Historically, “Hurdy-Gurdy” Girls and Madams who employed “working girls” would have been dressed in the fashionable fancy gowns of the time, the Madam’s “girls” would have had their castoffs. This shot of Lily Absinthe Old West “Working Women” is a great example of what a bit of Fuller’s Earth, hairspray, silk, and “Schmutz” can do for a superb Old West Saloon look!


The Old West was filled with ministers, preachers, and parsons, all with their own version of Hellfire. Here’s our version of a professional armed with his own brand of Old Time Religion!

watermark51Old West Entertainment came in all flavors with travelling shows, carnivals, and buskers. Here’s our Lily Absinthe version of a seductive Snake Charmer…how can you resist her gaze?


Your Old West Experience or Film isn’t complete without our Lily Absinthe Gowns, our background dresses are beautiful in their subtlety, all with the classic Lily Absinthe tailoring that we are famous for and the perfect complement to our Leading Lady gowns.

The Old West Experience didn’t stop at the Saloon or the Drawing Room! This Era introduced new gender roles and women quickly adapted to their new life. Some of these involved farming, working with cattle, and other chores that pertain to rural life or frontier towns. One of these specifically American images is of the “Cowgirl” or the authentic version: “Cow-boy Girl”. Out West, many women embraced the freedoms of changing society and laced their corsets more loosely (or adapted them for softer shapes) cast aside their sidesaddles for riding astride and “feminizing” traditionally masculine looks for horseback.  It’s become a romanticized look today, and one that we embrace here at Lily Absinthe…we’re finishing a new line of corsets specifically for “Cowgirl Shooters”, Trail Riding,  and our Cowgirl sisters out there.


“Cow-Boy Girls” went through their own fashion trends. At the turn of the century, ladies still were lightly corseted in these liberating suits, but in photos, you will find regional designs that start showing up…some considered scandalous, (copying the beautiful Native American Tribal beading designs) and some more modest, like incorporating embroidery, decorative buttons, and applique work.  Wooly chaps (called: “Woolies”) became popular, and leather chinks or “half-chaps” were often used, (I’ve used them myself when riding outside of Tombstone, the “cat’s claw” bushes are named just so for a reason!) along with copious amounts of leather fringe.


Most American women in towns were traditionally more proper, because not everything in the Old West happened in a saloon, as the Film Industry would have you believe!  “Day Dresses” were the fashion solution for every woman, to go shopping or visiting, to go to teas or even to get married in!  Diaries and novels show that some women would have “one good dress” and would re-fashion it for a decade or so, to keep up with the current fashion trends. This particular example with it’s neckline would be more for a party or tea.


This gown has the passing fad of the “Parasol Pocket”, not because it was meant for an actual parasol, but for it’s parasol shape. One sees them in original photos with fashionable women having their hankies displayed in them. We think they’re charming!


Looking under the layers, showing the “bayleuse”. It’s a removable ruffle of a stronger textile (ballgowns show more decorative ones, however) that support the skirt’s train from the ground, and can be removed and cleaned when necessary. We use these in all of our trained Lily Absinthe gowns and love how they make the skirt seem to “float”.

Be the Fashion Card…in your New Old West Lily Absinthe Gown <317

Of course, not all men were “Cow-Boys” in the Victorian Old West, most gentlemen wore suits of wool and linen each day and would dress up a bit when they would go to town or for special functions…especially in Old West, because a person was defined by their clothing.


Towards the turn of the century, people were introduced to newfangled contraptions for sport, such as the “Safety Bicycle”. Men and women both were introduced to the beginning of what became known as “Sports Clothes” and in this situation I’m wearing a “Cycling Dress”, it has military style tailoring and is worn with a corset and hat, but does create a statement!


We hope you enjoyed our approach on the Old West Styles, and invite you to peruse our other pages and invest a little time and come visit us at our work studio for Your New Victorian and Old West Look, because…

The Best of the West is found Here <3