Miss 19 asked me one day, “Mum what is B-Western?” Well I could explain to her what it meant for Single Action shooters by way of category, dress, firearms etc but what did it really mean?
Now I also knew it related to the silver screen era, John Wayne, Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and the like. So a little research got me looking further at the term.
In short, (because we don't need the full explanation on here) film production in the late 1920's and into the 1930's and 40's saw the double billing or short inexpensive films added to fill a program. Mostly due to rental of space to show a film and therefore to make it worthwhile not only for theatre goers but for the management and staff.
Western movies were said to be the most predominant in the 30's and accounted for 25-30% of production. Therefore the term, B-Western!
However, costume wise, it is all about the smiley pockets, piping, fringing, different coloured cuffs and yokes, bright coloured fabrics, embroidery and a little bit of bling thrown in for good measure.
There are many fine examples of such with the most revered being those created by Nudie Cohn. In particular to the country music artists over many years.
I found these little gems on some Grand Old Opry dvd's borrowed from 'Emerald'. Priceless! I'm sure I recognised one outfit on a DVD that we saw at the Ryman Auditorium when we were there in 2014.
This one of Ernest Ashworth wearing his 'Talkback Trembling Lips' outfit that matched his song! What a classic! Blinged up bars of music, the writing and of course the lips across it.
I think it was this one of Porter Wagoner's we may have seen at the Ryman or at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
In the realm of costuming I have completed a few B-Western outfits now and think there will be more to come.
Here is 'Lil McGill' from Texas, in her Annie Oakley inspired outfit (as worn by Gail Davis in the tv series of Annie Oakley in the 1950's). We saw the original on display at the Oklahoma National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame and it just had to become an outfit for Lil! She won best dressed B-Western Lady at the 2015 US Nationals – Winter Range, 2015 World Championships – End Of Trail and then the trifecta, 2015 South West Regionals – Red Dirt Rampage.
(2nd Place, Sonora Blaze, 3rd Place, Paniola Annie)
Our Aussies can be partial to a bit of B-Western flair as well and when 'Katie Younger' and 'Robb and Co' hit the USA in 2015 they wanted an Australian themed get up. So National emblem and flower with kangaroo's, Southern Cross and the Australian flag were the order. They won 2nd Place Best Dressed Couple at the 2015 World Championships – End of Trail. Katie has the first B-Western outfit I ever made in a red and black combo.
'Sonora Blaze' from Colorado also required a show stopper and we got to doing this Dale Evans inspired number but in the turquoise instead of the original coral colour. Sonora won 2nd Place Best Dressed at the 2016 US Nationals – Winter Range.
'Flat Top Okie' from Oklahoma, required a shirt to match the boots he'd bought and after searching for the right colour fabric came up with the perfect match! Add in some custom styled design and a little bit of bling and there you have it.
And so we come to the latest creation in this genre. Another beautiful outfit for 'Lil McGill' with bits of a Patsy Cline outfit and inspiration from Annie Get Your Gun costumes for Betty Hutton, Lil will be the ultimate ray of sunshine getting around the range in this number! There are a couple of things left to do, like pearl snaps, embroidered triangles for pockets and careful trimming of embroidery threads but I can't wait to see this one decked out with Lil's final touches!
Bling it if you can!
P.S. Weirdly, I am looking forward to more smiley pocket experimentation, I think I nailed it on Lil's skirt. Have to do pockets on shirt now!