Mohair Sweater, Circa 1960

My first fashion history teacher was my mother.  In telling me about the clothes she wore as a young woman in the 1940s, I became fascinated with how clothing styles changed and how they reflected the times in which the wearers lived.  I’ve always loved stories about women and the clothes that have been important to them.

While I was young, I witnessed two major changes in the the way women dressed – the switch from the conservative styles of the early 1960s to the Mod styles of the mid 60s, and then from the Mod styles to the 1970s which brought about a greater acceptance of women wearing pants and a more eclectic way of dressing overall.

Growing up in a small town in the mountains of North Carolina, I was made aware at an early age that fashion as seen in magazines and on television was not always what was being worn in my community.  The girls I knew always complained that we were at least two years behind the rest of the country, but looking back I realize that it wasn’t just this area that suffered a fashion lag.  What woman or girl in the 1960s could afford to replace all her clothing every season?  And so wardrobes were made more stylish as clothing was replaced or altered.

One garment I recall from my childhood was the bulky mohair sweater.  Whenever I come across one of these sweaters, I’m instantly reminded of my older cousin Nancy and the other high school girls who rode my school bus.  All these teens were wearing mohair sweaters in the early 60s, but by the time I would have wanted one, they were no longer the style.  I estimate that the girls I knew were wearing them in the early 1960s, and my search for images confirms that this was the era in which they were popular.  The latest image I found was in a 1965 Montgomery Ward catalog.

Like most of these sweaters that I’ve seen, the catalog states that this one was made in Italy of a blend of mohair, wool, and nylon.

I’d love to hear any memories you might have of wearing mohair.  Please tell me how itchy it was so I can get over this sense of loss at never getting to wear it as a child.

24 Comments

Filed under Collecting, Proper Clothing, Vintage Clothing

24 responses to “Mohair Sweater, Circa 1960

  1. I did not wear mohair sweaters in the early 60s, but my grandmother used to knit for us and she made us mohair hat-scarf-mitten sets at that time. Mine was powder blue and my sister’s was red. They itched. And made lousy snowball throwing gloves. They stuck to the snow.

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  2. I was born a bit late for this trend but I remember my grandmother always wearing mohair cardigans. She would have been about forty in the early sixties but carried this trend well into the 1970s.

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  3. Ruth

    Never wore it either, mixed with wool would have made me break out in rashes! (Pep club skirt from junior high did a number on my legs is how I found out wool and I aren’t meant to be, plus the sneezing.) But there was a young woman in my dorm in the late 60’s who had a sweater made from Angora and mohair. I’ve never touched anything so soft, that sweater was like a magnet for fingers!! The hubs wears socks made of Angora mix and i can handle those easily. Have you ever handled Llama wool/fiber? That’s another soft alternative to wools.

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    • There is a llama farm near me and I visited a few years ago. Lovelystuff!

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      • Ruth

        It would seem that there was an attempt to breed more mohair goats when it got so popular and the farmers wanted to make more money off it, but the wool was not as good quality. That’s why today it can vary in quality so much. Think I’d rather switch to the Alpaca or Llama wool as it seems to have less variation in quality. Wonder if that’s why some Cashmere is wonderful and some is scratchy. Guess a lot depends on what fillers are used with it, if any.

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  4. confession: I’m old enough to have worn mohair sweaters during my freshman year in high school (I wore them over blouses, so the itch was under control). The best being a lemony yellow cardigan like the style shown in that ad, worn with a white Peter Pan collared blouse, matching yellow and white checked box pleat skirt and yellow suede ‘gillie’ style shoes to match. Oh man was I on top of the world wearing that outfit!

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  5. Ellen Ruggles

    This post brings back memories. I persuaded my mother to let me order a v-neck mohair pullover from the Simpsons catalogue. I proudly wore it to my junior high classes and one schoolmate proclaimed that it was the colour of neopolitan ice cream – muted shades of strawberry pink, chocolate and vanilla. I went to school in rural Nova Scotia, Canada.

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  6. I distinctly remember having a light green fluffy mohair sweater in eighth grade–ca. 1961-2. It itched, but at that point I was willing to suffer for fashion. I made an a-line skirt to go with it, perhaps the second item I remember sewing for myself. If memory serves correctly, the “cool girls” at my junior high wore the sweater off the shoulders, but I didn’t.

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  7. I remember my mom wearing a mohair sweater coat in the early/mid 60’s. I had a v neck as I recall. i do remember them in the late 70early 80’s in designer sportswear and in evening with short and long taffeta skirts-think it was Blass-they became very popular and copied a lot.

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  8. elke

    I was in high school in the early 60’s, and many of my classmates had the mohair cardigans, mostly in rather insipid pastels. If i remember correctly, they were about $3.00-4.00 Canadian at the time. My grandmother decided I needed one, and knit me a beautiful dark red/black mix v-neck pullover in pure mohair. I still have it, though I haven’t worn it in several years. Warm, lightweight, non-shedding.

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  9. My favorite knit sweaters that I made (2000 and onward) that I still wear all have mohair in them. Silk or modal mixed in. Oh they are so deeply soft and so maddenling fluffy. The purple mohair cardigan…gosh, I’ve got to go put it on right now.
    “Ain’t no hair like mohair”

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  10. For some reason, bulky mohair cardigans became popular in the winter of 1973-74 in my high school in Michigan. Maybe it was colder than normal. Anyway, I wore an old one of my mother’s, and yes it was super itchy. Then imohair came into style in the mid-to-late 1980s, and I crocheted a batwing sweater. Again, it was uncomfortably itchy. So you didn’t miss anything!

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  11. Eileen

    In the New York metropolitan area, mohair sweaters came in just as I became a teenager (1962 or so). I loved them for their deep, bright colors–turquoise, hot pink, gold. One of my favorite outfits paired a moss green sweater with a wide-whale corduroy skirt and Mary Janes that were moss green suede and fake alligator.

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  12. Old Hat Vintage, Cindy

    I wore mohair sweaters in high school in the 80s! And ever since! I collected and wore vintage as a teenager which naturally evolved into selling today, but one item I rarely ever have for sale are mohairs because I keep them all! My kids know I love “fuzzy sweater season” Probably have 30 of them. They are warm and lightweight, interestingly textured, come in cardigans, cabled, pullovers, mod patterns, tweedy, pastels and not….I have many, many sweaters but mohairs are my favorite! (Yes, itchy but that’s true of any wool sweater.)

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  13. I was given a mohair jumper – a hand-me-down from my stepmother – in the early 1990s. IT WAS SO ITCHY. You honestly did not miss out.

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  14. When I was 15, my dad gave me an acrylic/mohair sweater that had been his favorite when he was in high school in the mid-1960s. It’s now my favorite sweater, too! It’s only 25% mohair, so I fortunately have not had any trouble with it being itchy!

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