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Hurrah for Hollywood!

Feb 09, 2011
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Occasionally Threads takes a trip to visit Western Costume Company in Los Angeles, California, to visit their extensive vintage clothing collection. We find great inspiration for articles and can choose from their incredible collection for Threads’ back cover garments. Last week we left blizzarding and blustery Connecticut and flew to 70 degree weather in sunny Hollywood for one such visit.
Western Costume is a magic world of its own filled with friendly and gracious guardians who know how to help the people working in the many facets of the entertainment industry pull their acts together. Over the next weeks you’ll see more photos of this year’s adventure, but here are a few photos to get you interested.

Here is a wall of 1940 shoes sorted by color. Stage and film productions can rent existing costumes or get help in developing new costumes. 

One of hundreds of rows of clothing three or more layers deep and sorted by decade, country, or style.


Looking for a few hoop skirts or petticoats?


 Here the costume designer for the next Men in Black movie pulled a few dresses from the 1960s.


 Behind the scenes you will find hat makers, dress makers, and here the leather shop.

 There is also a world class reference library where you can study every costuming element in detail.

In the vintage collection area, the staff post reminders to help them date a particular garment. As you can see, there are a few other items of interest–I particularly like the photo of the dachsund puppy in the real hot dog bun. There’s a costume for everybody. The years listed beside the synthetic fabrics indicate when they were introduced.



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  1. suzannity February 10th

    I noticed that the garments on the back covers of Threads are usually (always?) from Western Costume Company. Their website has a great gallery but I really appreciate this peak behind the scenes. The information on the poster boards is very interesting. Too bad more of it isn't legible. Definitely will put it on my list of places to go if I visit LA.

  2. User avater TessaBear February 10th

    This would be a great place to visit! I will be looking forward to all you want to show us. I'd really like to see my long term passion, HATS! Loved the John Koch series!

    It is coincidental, but I've been watching Downton Abbey on PBS and they talked about Angel costume in London. I was wondering if there was such a place in the US. I guess you have showed me there is.

    I'll have to check out Western Costume Company's site.

  3. User avater mandymarie20 February 13th

    I'm totally jealous! Western Costume is on my bucket list. I imagine it would take years to explore that fantastic place. One of my favorite parts of Thread magazine is the historic costume photo on the back of the magazine, which usually seems to be from Western Costume's inventory.

  4. joans43 February 15th

    Now I know how it always seems that the costumes are so perfectly PERIOD-PERFECT !! Such a great "peek "! Thank- you Threads

  5. costumelady71953 February 15th

    I have been there many times when I worked in live theater when I lived in Southern Calif. It is truly an incredible place. The pics do not show the size of the place... think a grocery store filled floor to celling with costumes. It was hard to stay focused on our goals when we were there.
    I retired and moved to a small town in Arkansas and who should I meet here but a lady that used to work there. talk about a small world.

  6. Learnernc February 15th

    I love learning about all these vintage items!! Thank you "Threads" for all the wonderful information you give us. Your site has something for everyone.

  7. Jenerator February 15th

    Seeing the list of years that various synthetics were created takes me back to Billy Joel's history lesson "We Didn't Start the Fire," and the line "Orlon, Dacron, Bay of Pigs Invasion" - except that now I look it up, I see I got the words wrong, and only Dacron was mentioned!

  8. User avater petvet February 15th

    You have just added something to my bucket list! I want to go there.
    I was the costumer for a few plays at our city's dinner theatre. I would LOVE to be involved in costuming for movies or even plays & musicals. I enjoy all the details making sure everything is correct for the period. Maybe for my retirement job...

  9. User avater orsinimedici1951 February 15th

    Wish I had access to Western Costume right now!! I'm costuming the 1911 tragedy play, Triangle, about the shirtwaist factory fire. Making most of the womens costumes, but the menswear is the challenge for the period! My passion is hats too, and speciaise in period hat reproductions. My greatest wish is to be discovered by Rebecca Eaton!!! LOVE Dowwnton Abbey too!!

  10. User avater sassycrafter February 16th

    What a treasure trove! I'm adding this to my list of travel wishes.

  11. loislev February 26th

    I loved the inside tour!! I do the sewing for our community threatre. I have done all costumes for The King & I, 7 Brides for 7 Brothers,, Annie, Joseph and Technical Dream Coat and many others productions.
    Right now I'm looking for "True Sequin" fabric. It's rows of sequines sewn on with a chain stitch on satin or poly fabric and the sequin overlay like fish scales.
    By chance would anyone know were I can purchase more?
    I'm making the UW Marching Band of WI Band Directors "glitz" jacket. Can any help me? You can privately e-mail me.

  12. User avater WallaceBBille November 26th

    Wow.. amazing..I loved the inside tour!!

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