1970s Charlie Chaplin Sweater

I’ve written about nostalgia, and how the idea of our grandparents’ past played such a huge role in the fashions of the late 1960s and early 1970s. I think it pretty much started with the 1967 film, Bonnie and Clyde, staring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as beautiful and stylish versions of two of the nastiest small-time crooks around in the 1930s. The trend continued, and developed into a style of its own in the form of 1930s inspired slinky disco dresses in the mid 70s. Kitsch died, but style remaind.

My sweater is pure nostalgic kitsch. The stars and icons of the 1930s were seen everywhere from posters on our walls to the sweaters on our backs. My sweater is labeled Pronto, and this company also produced sweaters with the images of W.C. Fields, Laurel and Hardy, and Little Orphan Annie.  The sweaters must have been popular, as they were even counter-fitted under the label, “an original import.”

This was made before imported became such a problematic word. Seems like the only people really worried about imports in the early 1970s were the textile and garment makers and the trade unions.

This is one object I don’t actually remember, but I was sure it had to be from the early 70s. Because the law concerning care labels went into effect in 1972, the detailed care label is a good indication that the sweater is from 1972 or later. The RN number was another clue. It was registered to Knits by Caron, which was listed as an importer and wholesaler.

But I got really lucky, as there is a book, Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp in America, 1947–77, by Lisa Stein Haven, that mentions this sweater. It was advertised in Seventeen magazine in a 1973 Saks Fifth Avenue ad.

The sweaters came in this greenish-yellow color and also in white. The stripes are the same on all the sweaters, with the images of the stars being embroidered on by machine. Close up, Chaplin’s hair looks like a mass of French knots.


Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, Vintage Clothing

12 responses to “1970s Charlie Chaplin Sweater

  1. I remember these sweaters.


  2. Yes it would have been a Seventeen Mag. hot item. I had not yet been covering the market -too early-in my career. I do know by ’77 the “novelty” sweaters appeared in ” Junior” vendors. The sweaters with dolls etc. with yarn hair/braids (similar) to this on. Then while” buying” Holiday / Christmas the Christmas sweaters literally burst onto the market. Also – the “soft sculpture” merchandise appeared same time. Some mid level sportswear designers were doing it on vests and jackets. Funny how one item brings back literally visuals!


  3. suzstyle

    I have a little orphan annie one just like it. Tried to drop in a photo here but could not . I do estate sales and scooped it up at one last year! So cute I’m going to do a photo shoot using it !!


  4. Arlene Cocke

    Sure enjoyed this story!


  5. Christina

    Oddly enough I think the likeness is good considering the application. The raspberry stripe on the sleeve is a mystery though.


    • All the sweaters in the series have that stripe. A sort of a trademark, maybe?


      • Jess

        I know this thread is a about 2 years old, but I just acquired one of these sweaters randomly and out of the blue, at a swapmeet haha. I had no idea it was a vintage collector’s item, I just enjoyed how odd it was.
        I’ve been researching because I was considering reselling it and wasn’t sure of it’s value. I stumbled upon an article of Charlie Chaplin’s history with the FBI, of which goes over his political stances of the time and the years of his alienation from America. I believe the red stripe is a satire of how Hollywood blacklisted him as a communist, which makes this sweater a fascinating historical piece to me.


  6. Pingback: 1970s Charlie Chaplin Beach Towel | The Vintage Traveler

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