49er Look-Alike

Yesterday I wrote about how easy it is to confuse a Key West Hand Print with that of Lilly Pulitzer.  Considering that the two were designed and made by the same team, that is understandable.  But there are other times when one item might be mistakenly taken to be something else.  In many cases it is a matter of copying.

In 1949 Pendleton introduced what had to be one of their most popular designs ever – the 49er.  It was the beginning of their women’s line, and as you might know, it is still being made today.  During the 1950s, the years when the jacket was so popular, there were a lot of other makers who cashed in on the design.  Several years ago I posted about one I found that had originally been sold at Sears.

I found the blue and grey example this week at my not so secret shopping place.  My first thought was that I’d discovered a Pendleton 49er among the Old Navy and Forever 21 trash littering the bins.  But an examination proved that this was another wannabe.

There was no label, but I did see traces where one had been sewn into the neck seam.  That was not good, because Pendleton sewed theirs onto the back yoke.

Here is the label from a vintage Pendleton 49er, that was a gift from Mod Betty several years ago.  A zigzag stitch was used to attach the label on the yoke.

The buttons on this jacket are a plastic that are meant to look like shell or mother-of-pearl.  An authentic vintage 49er has grey mother-of-pearl buttons.

Probably the most obvious difference is the way the pockets were cut.  On a 49er the bias cut pockets are mirror images of one another.  On this jacket they are cut on the bias, but no attempt was made to match them.

Note the beautifully matched pockets on my 49er.  Also note how the horizontal lines of the plaid match across the sleeves and the body of the jacket.

Interestingly, the plaids match up quite well on one sleeve…

but note how far off they are on the other side.  On the other hand, the two sides of the collar are quite well matched.

My fake does have the same type of pleat to the shoulders, and the sleeve cuffs are constructed in the same manner.  The wool is nice; not as nice as Pendleton, but it is passable.

I did buy this jacket anyway.  I like the colors, and it will be a good layering piece for the rest of the winter.  But darn it, I sure wish it had been a Pendleton.





Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, Vintage Clothing

20 responses to “49er Look-Alike

  1. Yes! So many knock-offs! And for someone who lives in Oregon I actually only have knock-offs! I have yet to find a true ’49’er that I like and fits my budget.


  2. seaside

    I love this tutorial on Pendleton vs knockoffs. Ever since I started following your blog, I have learned so much. The blue plaid seems a serviceable enough garment while the red Pendleton is a standout.


  3. I’d never heard of the 49er…now I’m going to be heading to Ebay. It fits in with the “old New England” preppy look I forgot to mention in my last comment. (Harvard and Edgartown meets Maine.) The L.L. Bean wide wale cords, chambray shirt, tweed jacket, maybe some “Nantucket Reds” pants. And all of it needs too look old and beat up, like you’ve had it since prep school. It’s mostly a guys look, though you still see some older women in oxford shirts and tweed midi-skirts. Kind of an “anti-status” status look. (The official car is an old Volvo.) I would definitely rock the 49er with jeans and duck boots as a take-off on that look.


  4. So much is in the details – thanks for the Pendleton “road map”.


  5. I love the style of the 49er jacket. My step-father-in-law gave to me the 49er jackets that he purchased for my husband’s mother (she died of cancer in 2009). I might not have thought to buy one myself, so I’m grateful for the chance to try it out. By chance, I decided to wear it this morning (heading out for church) with wool slacks. My oldest daughter wears the second of the two. We really like them, and really like Pendleton clothing. The quality is wonderful. I have to admit, I thought it would be fun to try to make one myself someday, as my skills grow and I find the right materials. As the others said, thanks for the history on the 49er and Pendleton. Several years ago, we visited Oregon… We loved visiting Pendleton.


  6. I used to buy 49ers ( or what I thought were 49ers) when I was in college and lived right next door to a Goodwill store. Now where did they go? Now I’m wondering if this jacket in a found photograph is real or fake: http://americanagefashion.com/?p=1231


  7. LIzzie, as a non-seamstress, I really enjoy posts like this. It helps me to see just how much attention to detail and skill go into really well-made clothing.


  8. Lizzie – what a delight to see the 49er that I sent you all those years ago (it seems) to good use to educate all of us on what to look for when determining real or fake.

    As others have said, but I’ll add my vote – I love the comparisons and learning that the devil really is in the details, and I totally look at the photos of that 49er and see all of the tiny decisions they made that make up such a fine piece.

    Thank you and please keep up the good work!


  9. Althea Hathaway

    Howdy, I have collected some 15+ 49ers and knock-offs. I’ve managed to sell one so far, but I keep acquiring! I have three suits, two Ps and one that is very close to your featured Sears knock-off. I will send pic soon.
    XoX Althea, Born 1950s and smitten for these fab plaid wool box jackets at age three. No kidding.


  10. Nice detective work, Lizzie! 😀


  11. That looks exactly like a jacket of mine! — its label is Sears. (And side-bar, my fashion dictionary says this cut is called a beer jacket. Interesting, when you consider the beer suits of Princeton kids — overalls with a similarly-cut jacket. Seen here: http://www.gentlemansgazette.com/ivy-style-book-review/ and here : http://www.boastusa.com/princeton-beer-suits/ Really just taken from workmens’ clothes I suppose.)


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