Harlequin Print Top from Catalina

Catalina is another of those great old sportswear companies that I love to find.  It was located in California, a fact that the company used in their branding.  Many of the labels brag that Catalina was a “California Creator,” and that their products were “Styled for the Stars of Hollywood.”  In the early years they were mainly a maker of bathing suits, but they moved into sportswear by the 1940s.  Especially great were the figural design sweaters they made.

I found the blouse above several weeks ago, and I’ve spent some time thinking about it.  If not for that exaggerated collar, it is pretty typical of the late 1950s and early 60s.  But that crazy collar might make someone assume that this is a product of the 70s.

It is not.  Collar aside, this shirt dates from that period of time – the late 1950s and early 1960s – when people had an ongoing love of all thing Italian.  That included harlequin prints, Sophia Loren and Emilio (Pucci) of Capri.

harlequin-inspired designs from Emilio (Pucci) of Capri from a 1957 McCall’s mini-catalog


Besides the styling and the fabric, the label points to an early Sixties date.  This blue label was only used for a short time at Catalina, and while I don’t know the exact dates, all the garments I have ever seen with it date from the late 1950s or early 60s.  You can see a lot of Catalina labels on the VFG Label Resource.  While the Resource does not always lead to an exact dating, it is invaluable in giving a general idea of when a particular label was used.

The rolled short sleeves and the squared-off hem with side vents are commonly seen features in casual clothing of this era.


Filed under Sportswear, Vintage Clothing

13 responses to “Harlequin Print Top from Catalina

  1. Nostalgia alert: my first pair of Capri pants (1957) had a harlequin print on a white background. It was a smaller scale than this blouse, and had turquoise and black diamonds as well as pink and yellow and who knows what else. I loved them. I wonder how that blouse would look with the collar turned up in back? (Very 50s!) Would the collar points hang any better?


  2. What a cheery color and print combo! I have to say the rolled sleeves and squared off hem are some of my fave looks – you don’t have to tuck in but you still look neat! I’m going to share this with my seamstress pal as inspiration! thanks Lizzie.


  3. Oh boy, I remember Catalina! Mom had blouses, and also a turquoise swimsuit– very structured, with boy pants and a modesty skirt panel and bust support, I think it zippered. Thanks for a trip down memory lane.


  4. Yes, memories! Those are the colors of my youth.


  5. I for one…enjoy reading about all the memories revived from just a simple little blouse…and collar.

    I remember turning up my collar, because it looked “cool”….and my husband turning it back down like he thought is was suppose to be…and fixing it for me.

    He was not aware (not being fashion conscious) this was the “in thing” in the 50’s. He was an athlete and only aware of …who was on first. smile.


  6. I totally agree with you about the Italian influence, Lizzie. I also view the pointed collar, as a reinforcing design element, for the diamond shapes of the harlequin print.

    Yep, that blue Catalina label is always welcome. It’s a yummy little shirt!


  7. Reminds me of raspberry and lemon sorbet. So cute!


  8. What a fun, charming blouse! That big collar would have probably fooled me–proof that it is always important to do further research.


  9. Goodness! This is darling! And something I would totally wear! I love harlequin print and this is so bright and cheerful!


  10. I ordered a copy of Blueprints of Fashion — which you recommended — and it arrived yesterday. There’s a photo of Butterick blouse pattern 5272 on page 104; it’s from 1950, and all three versions have these extreme collar tabs. Gosh, this is fun!


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