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.