Daisy and Lola at work

Saturday, May 1, 2010

On dressing the part and playing the part and more...

Having had ...er..discussions... with saloon keepers and saloon girls who wish for working girls to be allowed to run around the streets of Deadwood in can can dresses during the day, one starts to ponder... what should be allowed in Deadwood now?

The admins in this historical sim where players are asked to stay fairly true to characters appearance of the mid to late 1800's Deadwood, South Dakota are faced with this question almost daily - mostly from newcomers who haven't done much research (see the links on the side under Resources).  Most have based their idea of working girls of all kinds on old Hollywood movies, television shows,  RL costumes and clothing offered for sale in Second Life.   They may have spent several hundred Lindens on an outfit they like that makes their avatar look mighty fetchin'.

As Daisy points out, although we are playing 19th century prostitutes, saloon, dance hall and parlor girls,  today's eyes aren't gonna be turned on or shocked a lot by what turned on and shocked people way back then.  And, as she also points out, the Deadwood tv show changed their cuss words from "damn" to "fuck" as we aren't really gonna be shocked if someone says "damn" a lot - "fuck" gets the point across.. don't ya fuckin' think?

Early prostitutes and girls working in the saloons in Deadwood most likely would have dressed similar to how you see Daisy and me dressin' on the cover page picture up there... nothing fancy for sure.   Dancing girls haven't really arrived yet.    Still... we would most likely have our dancing girls in dresses no more than knee high, with flashy colored slips underneath, low cut front for sure, maybe baring our arms inside the saloon.  And outside we might dress like the ladies in town with dresses to our ankles --  our blouses would probably be low low cut to advertise our trade, though we might still have long sleeves on.

But we're still gonna run across knee to crotch length dresses and bared shoulders

So, what about them crotch length, bright red, blue, purple, feathered dresses? Should we or shouldn't we relax the rules, and tolerate a more sexy modern look?

So, here's a close up of Lola in her 19th century working girl clothing:

And then here's the more jazzed up modern look -- this is one I have in inventory -- oh yeahhhh, I love it but.. how right is it for Deadwood now?  Or in the future?

And Lord help us, below are samples of what comes up if you type in "Saloon Girl" in Xchange:

Black Rose for all your play and role play needs! 

 Sally the Saloon Hussy...

Clearly meant for modern wild west, but the text does say Saloon girl -- are there saloon girls around today?

Text says "Sexy corset set perfect for any steampunk or old west setting where you are looking for the kind of outfit a saloon girl would wear!"   Um, well.. maybe if you leave everything on...

This one seems reasonable - not for on the street as the arms would be covered.. and some of it is "upstairs" wear.. but  not bad. "Madam" Can be found here

Addison Leigh is working on some really good information on the working girls of the times that will help players decide what kind of working girl they might want to be  (prostitute, saloon girl, parlor girl, upstairs girl, madam?) and how to appropriately dress their avatar to play that part.

But the question does remain -- do we dress our avatars to turn on our 21st century eyes?  Or are we role-playing the characters so much so that the 19th century look works?

Your comments are invited!


  1. Something that can also make playing a shady lady difficult is that so few of the other ladies in town dress to fit their role. With her hair down and shoulders bared it should be obvious that Daisy is a whore, but almost all the ladies have their hair down, and bare shoulders and exposed cleavage are common. So what is a whore to do? Where a shorter dress? Dress in a flashy Hollywood-esque saloon girl outfit? I can see how someone who wants to stand out as being risque struggles with it.

  2. It's more how you play the character. It's pretty hard to find decent period hair style done up all proper for a decent price.

    If you stand about actin' like a Whore much like Daisy and Lola, then we should assume they're whores.

    If they act more refined, then we can assume they're proper ladies. I treat you how your character acts, and Daisy & Lola are clearly whores.

  3. I very much liked your post about saloon girl clothing, Miss Lola

    I have easily found several inexpensive (freebie and dollarbie, even), era appropriate hairstyles and clothing. So much I started my blog, The Artful Shopper http://theartfulshopper.blogspot.com/ because bargain hunting for Victorian clothing and accessories is a small obsession of mine.

    If you're looking for really authentic period hair and are willing to pay, try:

    •Historical Heroines, which is completely devoted to historical hairstyles, which run about 150L each (with free demos!).

    •Curl up and Dye has two gorgeous styles that are perfect for the Deadwood era, with the upswept hair and curls down the back: Isabella and Penelope. Those are 250L each.

    •Exile has a style called Emmanuelle which would also be in line for proper Victorian ladies to wear, for 250L. For whores, there's a great free style at the front of the store called Susan, which is a loose bun that works well for any working class woman or working girl.

    I wanted to fit something clever in about Deadwood not being the Twelve Oaks Party in Gone With the Wind, but it didn't pan out . Really though, it's not that difficult to find the clothing, hair and accessories that will really complete the immersive experience!

    (and apologies if this came off sounding like an ad for my blog!)

    .. Lillie Lamplight