Thursday, June 14, 2012

Oh, Bullocks! (Disambiguation: The Store Not Sandra)

"That is very funny, but labeling people can be dangerous."

So true Cassandra, so true. Clothing, however, is a different beast and today, we're learning about this label:

And this label
And this label
 Are we seeing a pattern here?
 Housed in a gorgeous Art Deco building commissioned by John Bullock and designed by John and Donald Parkinson, the Bullock's Wilshire opened its rather impressive doors in 1929.

Bastion de style: 3050 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles.
I know we like to say this a lot around here, but really, this store had EVERYTHING. Everything glamorous and high-end that is: a exterior facade design by George Stanley*, a perfume hall, a porte cochere, a saddle shop, sixty custom-designed clocks, travertine floors,
Travertine in Nature (Impressive, yes?)  Photo: M. Samaee
Travertine in Bullocks. (Still impressive)

a tea room, future celebrity employees (among them June Lockhart, Pat Nixon and Angela Landsbury) a Chanel shop, several decades of exclusively handwritten receipts so as not to have the none-too-melodious sounds of cash registers disturb the peaceful and genteel shopping environment

a climate-controlled fur room, a Doggery (for the sophisticated canine) and an in-store Salon Boutique for Irene Lentz Gibbons- better known by the single moniker, Irene- stylist for the grande dames of LA and later costume designer at MGM.

The Irene Salon

An Irene display, including sketch. Photo M. Hall. Source:
More info on Irene's work at Bullocks can be found here:
And Irene in general
Apparently the definitive work on Bullocks Wilshire (or so 2.5 hours of internet research would suggest):
Awesome info and photo tour of the building today:
For your other labeling and other vintage clothing-related interests, check this out:

Bullocks Wilshire closed in 1993. The following year, the building was purchased by Southwestern Law School. Extensive restoration and conservation was done, and 3050 Wilshire now houses the Dean's Office (formerly John Bullock's top floor office) and the Leigh H. Taylor Law Library. It is closed to the public but once a year they do offer the "Tea and Tour" event. For info on that see here:

And if you have trouble finding a gift for that persnickety person just take a cue from this:
"His wife and daughters found it impossible to buy clothes for him, except for sweaters and handkerchiefs. He preferred to choose his own outfits, and every two years he went to Bullock's Wilshire in Los Angeles and bought a supply." Thomas, Bob. Walt Disney: An American Original. Disney Editions, 1994. p.226

If Walt Disney can shop there so can you....provided you have a time traveling contraption of some variety. 

 Okay, gotta go. Me and the Doctor have to go buy some high-end scarves and bowties. 

*George Stanley designed the original Oscar statue from a design by Cedric Gibbons- MGM's Art Director- also btdubs the brother-in-law of Irene, herself twice nominated for an Academy Award. OMG, everything's coming together.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Yeah, it's been more than a couple days. There may have been a concussion-related incident somewhere in there, but you know what? Now we get to say this: Western Costume Blog- We're Better with Brain Injuries!
If any one wants to make me a graphic for that, I'll totally post it, provided, of course, it meets with the family-friendly(ish) rating of this station. So then...Swords. Cool people have them.

Obviously. Let's learn things and be cool too.

Sword Anatomy- Courtesy of
Names of different parts of Medieval SwordsThe names of the different parts of a Medieval sword are as follows together with facts and information about their history:
  • The Blade - The blades of Medieval swords which were used in England were usually straight with two sharpened edges. The history of Blades shows that they were first made of Bronze, then iron and culminating in the steel Medieval swords
  • The Crossguard or Quillion - This was the handle of the sword resembling the shape of the Christian cross. Expensive to produce and sometimes covered in precious metals - bronze, silver or gold
  • The Edge - The cutting part of the blade. Medieval swords were designed to be used for blows directly against the opponent's body or shield and in the edge to edge style of sword fighting
  • The Forte - The strongest part of the swords blade, nearest the hilt
  • The Fuller - The central shallow on a straight double edged blade - also referred to as the 'Blood Gutter'!
  • The Grip - The hilt of swords held in the hand of the Knight. The Grip was often made of horn or wood, covered in leather and contoured to fit in the hand
  • The Hilt - The Hilt is the handle of the sword made up of the crossguard, grip and the pommel. The personal engravings on the hilt, and its expense, would often ensure that when a blade was disguarded the hilt would be re-used
  • The Pommel -The pommel was part of the hilt which acted as a counterweight to the blade on Medieval swords
  • The Tang - The tang was the unsharpened end of the sword blade covered by the hilt
(The Other Tang)

Different swords have slightly different terms. It's okay. Terms can be fun. It's not like there's a surprise spelling test next Wednesday, you know between recess and group-project time. Also, I'm sure if you start rattling these off to random strangers your cool factor will just skyrocket. I know mine does.

Western (American) Sword Anatomy- Check out for even more detailed info.

Fun fact: The medieval Greatsword could be up to 91 inches length. That's nearly eight feet. That's the deep end of residential swimming pool. Four words: Get out the way.

Reading instructions in plain English is just too easy for you? The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts teaches you how to use potentially deadly weapons in Olde English, and ...wait for it... translated medieval German. Hardcore, no?

Now go on, have fun*, and remember the sage words of
"Getting a good Scottish Claymore for under $300 is not an easy task.."   Thanks for reading, and good luck with all of your sword related adventures.**
*Play safe, friends.
**Kingdom not guaranteed with purchase or removal of sword.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Pharomachrus Mocinno Walks Into A Bar...

No but seriously folks, today's blog is inspired by a bird we saw the other day. Yes, we're cool like that. Also, where have we been? Right. So very sorry about that. You know that thing when you clean out your closet and you feel kind of great because things have finally been sorted, sold, donated, recycled, trashed, incinerated I mean responsibly disposed of... and then you realize you still have to put whatever you still own back in the closet. 

If my closet was an Armani store, I suppose it might look something like this.
 Anyway, we had to re-sort and stow our leftover spring sale merchandise and I can't really tell you what happened aside from the fact that it somehow all got put away and when I regained consiousness I was in the middle of my sixth Michael Bay movie.* How was your week?
But now we are back with more blog. Huzzah! As the sale is over, ye olde blog will now consist of costume-related fun facts. Because, that's right, knowledge is power. So, back to that bird we saw...feathers in costume. Hey, Fun Facts...Engage and Roll Out.**

If the quetzal (Pharamachrus moccino) had been any kind of store, Aztec royalty would have had frequent shopper cards.
It's brightly colored plumage was highly prized and used in elaborate headdresses.
And I can't get novelty bobby pins to stay in my hair.

Also, yeah, if this blog needs more of anything, clearly it's more Latin. So let's take a look at some insanely rad Hawaiian feather cloaks. These items are brought to you by the 'i'iwi (Vestiaria coccinea) and the 'o'o (Moho nobilis)

Here's a link to a cool and really in-depth paper on the conservation of three such feather cloaks.

And now for some feather fans (jump in any time South Carolina Football Spirit Squad). But really here's two Edwardian ostrich plume fans, as photographed and posted by

And in case your just a fan fan: here's some fun links.  In addition to bunches of information they also have a fan with a screaming cat on it. Who doesn't need more screaming cats?  This site gives us many wonderful things, including an exhibition on Sylvain le Guen- a contemporary fan maker. Seriously check it out. The work is amazing.

See you in a few days. Now that it's not just captions to yard sale photos, some actual research may be required for posts. Also, if anyone has a question or topic of costume interest/inquiry we can totally look into it. For now though, have a very splendid evening.

*Starscream, you have failed me for the last time. ...Again.
**No, I will not stop with the 80s cartoon references.

Also, extra credit is available to anyone who can a) finish the joke I started in the blog title and/or b) make a fan incorporating Starscream and feathers. Send in pictures. I'll post them. I promise.

Monday, May 21, 2012

And Then What Happened???

Hello Readers!
 So, the Sale happened. And it was exciting and crazy and at the end of the day just a downright fascinating experiment in sociology or perhaps cultural anthropology. Yeah, I love me some soft-ish sciences. Here in the post-sale world, we are left with the question of whether or not to continue the blog. Well, truthfully, it was a question for about six seconds. I like writing it. Y'all good folks seem to like reading it. So, for the time being, we're planning to continue posting. As to our after-Sale content, we'll get to that more tomorrow because- have we mentioned the Sale happened?- and I'm just not sure that I've actually regained consciousness. For this evening, I'm planning to follow the assuredly sage-like advice on page 8 of my new Crate and Barrel catalog and "Chill Out"...and yes, it's a page about snow-cones.

P.S. This weekend at the civic center: COSTUME vs VINTAGE. Two concepts enter the octagon. Only ONE survives.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Visitors Guide to Spring Sale

Whether this is your first trip to the Spring Sale or you are a veritable Spring Sale world traveler, here are some tips you may find helpful for your voyage tomorrow. Let's read, shall we?

Climate: The usual late springtime climate in North Hollywood can be quite toasty. Dress lightly.

One should keep in mind, though, that the mornings can be a little chilly due to an occasionally persistent marine layer. A light jacket is recommended.

Then again, layers are always a good plan.

Transportation: Most visitors to the sale travel via automobile. The address for Western Costume is indeed 11041 Vanowen St. North Hollywood, CA 91605. However, the main entrance to the Sale parking lot is located off of Vineland Ave north of Vanowen but just before the railroad tracks. You can park in the front of the building on Vanowen but someone may point you in a more sale-ward direction
For those traveling by boat:


Or horse:

We seriously commend you. Also, zeppelin parking is available at the Target.

Culture: Be prepared for an uber-bustling market place. (Complete with actual bustles)
Some shopping carts and racks will be provided for your shopping convenience. Treat your fellow shoppers and SpringSale staff with courtesy. We don't want things to get out of hand.

Don't worry though:
There's plenty of stuff to go around. Please note this important change to the SpringSale set up. The racks displaying the costumes are zip-tied together. Do not attempt to separate families of racks. No one wants to see a rolling rack on a wild rampage because it has been separated from its babies. We imagine it might look something like this:
Only much more aggressive. Do not taunt the zip-tied rolling racks.

All items at the Sale are priced via color coded tags. These tags correspond to prices and a look at any of the many price signs will show you how much your items cost. Here is an artist's rendition of what those signs might look like. Also, the "artist" is my cell phone. Also, this is what the signs look like.
Once you have finished shopping and are waiting to make your purchases it is quite helpful to organize your items by color tag. All reds together all greens together, etc. This will expedite your check out and get you out into the world wearing your new fabulous purchases as soon as possible. Because we know how excited you are to wear your upcoming acquisitions.
Also, they make great holiday gifts for your friends and family, just saying.
Ah, yes, right, lost our train of thought there for a moment-actually I had to run to the airport. True story. I had to pick up this trunk.

Alright, the trunk part isn't true though the bit about the airport totally happened. The trunk is, however, for sale and like all our other items can be purchased with cash or credit. 

Um... okay so we don't really do food here but if you buy this under-the-sea-tulle-sequin-chiffon-wonder-number we'll throw in the ChexMix box for free. Yeah, we're super cool like that. Also, we've heard a rumor that there will be water available but for the sake of superior hydration possibilities you may want to bring your own as well.

So then, our intrepid SpringSale Shoppers, we'll see you tomorrow from 8am-2pm. Thanks for shopping and thank you SO MUCH for reading. Much love and stuff TeamYardSale2012

For real and serious, we love you!!
Peace out, homestars!!!!