… the clothing worn in the Wild West? Calico Dresses and Buffalo Robes*, by Katherine Krohn, looks at clothing and fashion in the American West from the 1840s to the 1890s. It covers everyone from Native Americans to cowboys and farmers to city slickers, with brief mentions of non-European immigrants and the military. In addition to clothing, this book looks at accessories and hair styles for both men and women. Where people got their clothing is also mentioned – whether it could be made at home or purchased from a store or catalog.
Calico Dresses and Buffalo Robes would be useful to people interested in costuming for theater or re-enactments (or just for fun), as well as those writing about the time period or with an interest in it. The text is accompanied by photographs and illustrations from the late 1800s. There is a section on trendsetters and rule breakers, such as Levi Strauss and Calamity Jane. An epilogue looks at how Western fashions have changed over time and how they are still popular today.
This book is short, designed to be a brief overview and introduction to the topic rather than a comprehensive work. A bibliography and list of recommended books and websites will help people who want more detail. Words that are likely to be unfamiliar are defined in the text and included in a glossary at the end.
* Other books in the Dressing a Nation series include Buckskin Dresses and Pumpkin Breeches, Petticoats and Frock Coats, Hoopskirts, Union Blues, and Confederate Grays, and The Little Black Dress and Zoot Suits.
Reviewed by Fran (staff)