Sunday, April 26, 2015

How to Pants a Hero by Paty Jager #historical #western

While working on the Work In Progress(WIP) the other day, I had a scene where the heroine needed to take the pants off the injured and unconscious hero. This is when they first meet. My fingers stalled. How were men's pants fastened in 1900? Were they the same as the early books I'd written?

I went to my research books and pulled out an 1897 Sears, Roebuck & Co. Catalogue which is a replica, and The Writers Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West by Candy Moulton.

Thumbing through the Sears pages I made a decision of the type of pants my hero would wear. There were several choices from the tailor made pants for $.75 made of wool and cotton blend to the $5 pair of pants made of imported French and German worsted in a variety of striped patterns. There were also overalls (jeans) made from different weights of blue denim. These were anywhere from  $.38 to $2.38 for a pair of white painters' overall.

vintage pants on Ebay
My hero isn't a cowboy or a person who rode horses a lot. He works with his hands making writing tablets for the blind out of wood. And he himself is blind. So I determined he would wear an average price-range, wool trouser with flannel drawers underneath.

But I still didn't know how the pants were fastened. I learned from The Writers Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West that men rarely wore a belt. The pants were so high waisted the top button was above the hips. Once it was buttoned, the pants didn't fall off. If a man didn't have a waist thinner than his hips, he could use suspenders to keep his pants up. Men's pants had a fly front just as today, only there were buttons instead of a zipper. The buttons were hid under the fly.

And so my heroine has to remove the unconscious hero's trousers so the doctor can inspect him for injuries.
Here is an unedited excerpt on the de-pantsing of the hero by the heroine from Claiming a Heart the third book in the Halsey Homecoming trilogy.

She stood by the cot staring at the last piece of clothing she had to remove. Wool trousers. Drawing in a deep breath, she steeled herself for the task. The red flannels he wore would cover his lower body, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to touch him so intimately. After all, she’d have to slide the britches over his hips and down.
“Lookin’ at him ain’t gettin’ the job done.” She leaned down and unbuttoned the waist button. Working the other buttons under the flap loose required her fingers to touch a part of a man’s body she shouldn’t be touching.
She held her breath and worked the buttons loose as quickly as her stiff fingers would go. A whoosh of air relaxed her lungs when the buttons were all free of the holes. Sliding her hands inside the pants and down his hips, she worked the garment down and eventually off his legs.

Sweat beaded her brow when she stood at the end of the cot holding his trousers. 


Cindy Jones said...

I had a pair of Levi jeans that were button fly once. What a nuisance they were. But compared to the the corsets the ladies wore the guys got off easy.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Cindy! I agree. Women had a lot of layers and uncomfortable clothing. Men deserved some bit of inconvenience. ;)

Kaye Killgore said...

I loved that passage. Now they would just cut the pants off.

Cheri Clifton said...

Thanks for the de-pantsing info, Paty! I also have the Writers Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West, a great reference book. How did you obtain a replica of the 1897 Sears Catalogue? Good to have on hand.

Charlene Raddon said...

Great post. I have a friend, an expert on costuming, who has started writing a series of books on clothing aimed particularly at writers with more detail and specificity then most books offer. I don't know when they'll come out but I'm very eager to get my copies.

Paty Jager said...

Thanks for stopping in Kaye. I agree, these days they don't care about the cost of clothes or that they person may not have another pair.

Hi Cheri! I use the Writers Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West all the time. And the Sears catalogue. It gives great pictures and prices of things. I found it in, I believe, a Barnes and Nobles years ago. The shelves they put marked down books.

Charlene, thanks! I would love to know more about your friend's book when she gets it published. It sounds like a great reference book for those of use who write historical westerns.

Kathy Otten said...

Cute scene. :) I also have that writers guide and an old replica of a Sears catalogue. And I have How the West Was Worn, by Chris Enss, and The History of Underwear, by C. Willet and Philiss Cunnington. Sounds interesting with him making books for the blind.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Kathy! I have The History of Underwear too. But I'll have to go find the How the West was Worn. I think I need it for my reference library. ;)

Thanks! This is another book with a blind hero. Why I do this to myself I'll never know! But it is challenging to have him "see" things without his sight.