Annie Oakley: That Scarf, Those Shoes, That Blouse
I first came upon this opinion after watching PBS. I had only a vague knowledge of the name because it’s often mentioned when girls dress up in cowboy getup. Someone mentioned to me once that I looked like her, so I intentionally watched a biography to see if there was any truth to it. After watching one slow span after another of photos, I began to realize something: Annie had a radical dressing style.
The biography soon gave commentary on that subject. She was a woman of the Victorian Era, and women of that era wore long skirts and their hair up. Yet Annie chose not to. Her hair was always down and her skirts were to her calves. Sometimes she wore the shooting medals she’d won, sometimes she wore a cowboy hat, and sometimes, she wore riding gloves.
I don’t like the look of cowboy hats or brown, fringed dresses. I don’t like fringed gloves or that any girl who’s wearing anything cowboy-ish is called Annie Oakley. But I like that Annie is remembered for the image she carefully created; she skipped on stage, pouted when she pretended to miss, and stamped her foot like the little girl her dresses implied. And yet she wore corsets.
She was clearly a woman of her own very conscious invention, even though she had to work within the social mores of her time. I’m the same way–I don’t have the time or energy to completely invent my own clothing, so I have to stay with what I can find in stores. Annie embroidered and embellished her own costumes, but she wasn’t a fashion designer. She was a girl with talent.