1970s fashion, sewing, sewing patterns

Authentic Western Patterns

I have a great deal of western and square dance patterns from Authentic Patterns, but I don’t know much about them. They have 70s style illustrations and photos, and are pretty cool styles. All I knew was that they were out of Fort Worth, Texas. Then I went looking.

I found that Authentic Western Fashions, Inc. was established in 1970, after Bob McClelland, Sr, a fabric salesman, found a gap in the market. He was the inventor of the infamous (in vintage sewing circles) three armhole dress. I’ve sold a lot of three armhole dress patterns over the course of time. It’s exactly what it says it is: a wrap dress with three armholes. Still very popular, so if you have one, you’re a lucky camper. But apparently, Mr McClelland spoke with fabric salespeople in the course of his work and found that there weren’t a lot of true western style patterns on the market. That’s how Authentic Western Fashions came to be.

McClelland hired Marlene Syms, from Oklahoma, as his designer, and off they were to the races. Specific fabrics were sold as well: stretch lame and iridescent eyelash fabric. Imagine how eye catching these were! Of course, it goes right alone with the country stars of the era with their spangles and sequins, so I guess it’s not really a surprise, though I’d love to see the actual fabrics they were intended for.

Within four months of creation, the company had patterns in several hundred stored nationwide. Plans were made to expand to English riding costumes, as well as cheer and twirling outfits. Though I’ve never seen those, a 1976 article mentions body suits, pantsuits, square dance dresses, and even bush jackets for men. I have a number of western wear patterns for men, women and kids, including a lot of square dance outfits.

It appears that Ms. Syms unfortunately died in 1976 as a result of a car accident in Oklahoma. Though a classified ad is seen looking for a printerman in 1977, the last mention of Authentic Patterns is in a store ad in 1979. It may be that they hired another designer, or perhaps they were still selling Ms. Syms’ designs, as westernwear is fairly classic in style, so it could withstand a certain amount of time without looking dated. No mention is seen of the company in ads after that point.