Texas Cowboys, Costume Research, Hat Creek Outfit by Van Broughton Ramsey

Name: Texas Cowboys, Costume Research, Hat Creek Outfit | Artist: Van Broughton Ramsey Media: Cutouts glued to manila card | Year(s): 1988
Van Broughton Ramsey | Texas Cowboys, Costume Research, Hat Creek Outfit | 1988 | Cutouts glued to manila card | The Wittliff Collections, Alkek Library, Texas State University

About the Work

Using antique photographs as inspiration plus vintage style fabrics and a collection of antique buttons, costume designer Van Broughton Ramsey said, “We made all the costumes, except for a very few things.” For each of the major characters, at least six duplicates were made of each costume. Since the film was shot out of sequence, careful records were kept for the amount of wear on each. In addition, duplicate costumes were made for actors’ doubles and stunt actors, each in the same stages of wear, meaning that some costumes were made a total of twelve times. If someone was shot in the movie, the day before that sequence was filmed, the costumes covering the body part to be shot went to the property department who attached squibs [small explosive devices with fake blood packets]. Once that scene was filmed the costume, now covered with “blood,” was no longer usable. The actor would change into a second costume for a second take. Ramsey remembered “The costume people would have a third costume in reserve and pray they didn’t need a third take.”

“Hats were very significant . . . . With sixteen guys in the cattle drive, you have to be able to recognize [each of] them when you see them in silhouette.” Ramsey chose hats for every character that helped to describe his personality. For instance, Call was “very rigid, almost Amish looking.” Consequently, his hat was black, high-topped and straight off the shelf.

Ageing the costumes and leather was one of the most timeconsuming parts of the project. Authentic style boots, unlike modern ones, have no toe boxes and were made with two pieces of leather from hides that were first run through washing machines and dryers to age the material. Each main character had five pairs of boots custom made and then a man sanded the seams and wear areas. For the run of the production, one man worked full-time aging boots and other leather goods.