Tag Archives: vintage sweater

1920 Sports Sweater

This sweater is a real survivor. It’s almost 100 years old, and it has managed to escape the scourge of vintage knits – the moth. I see a lot of these sweaters in old photos from 1915 through 1922 or so, but they are very rarely actually found on the vintage market. Several years ago I let one get away, and I vowed to buy the next one I found that was not held together by a few threads.

It took a while, but finally this beauty came my way. It had everything I was looking for – a great color with contrast, excellent condition, and it was made for a woman (front laps right over left). And who could resist those pockets?

This style was made for both men and women, as shown in this illustration from the 1921 Bradley Knits catalog. The only thing my sweater is missing is a label, but it could have been made by Bradley. Or maybe not, as there were many producers of wool knitwear during this time period.

The details are so nice, and add to my love of the cardigan. This sweet little pocket flap really makes me happy.

The buttonholes seem to be made by hand, using the matching wool yarn. I’m not sure why my colors are all over the place. The sweater is not this purple.

Besides the green stripes, notice the knit-in stripes of red.

And finally, a reminder that the overlock machine was not invented in the 1970s. The overlock was commonly used on sportswear, even earlier than this sweater.

 

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Filed under 1920s fashion, Collecting, Proper Clothing, Sportswear, Winter Sports

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.

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Filed under Collecting, Proper Clothing, Vintage Clothing

Jantzen – Made in Canada

Jantzen made their name and fortune on swimsuits, but started out as a knitter of sweaters, socks and gloves.  The company was founded in 1910 as the Portland Knitting Company.  Later in the decade someone got the idea to make bathing suits using the machine that knit sweater cuffs.  It produced a knit suit that was ribbed, and thus was a better fitting bathing suit.  By 1918 the company was renamed Jantzen Knitting Mills, and the main product was their famous swimsuits.

This souvenir postcard shows the administration building of Jantzen.  The card is not dated, but the cars are late 1920s models, and according to several sources, this building was constructed in 1929.  The growth of Jantzen must have been amazing, as the back of the cards claims that over 1,750,000 swimming suits were produced annually at the Portland facility.

What is also interesting is that the card mentions that Jantzen was also manufacturing swimsuits abroad.  It was a kind of reverse out-sourcing, where the company produced in other countries not to import to the US, but to sell in that country.  Note that in the 1920s, Jantzen was making swimsuits in Oregon, England, Australia, Canada, and New Jersey.

In 1941 Jantzen returned to the sweater business  as part of their new sportswear line.  My sweater, from the 1940s, was made in Canada for the Canadian market.  It came to me as a gift from Deborah at BigYellowTaxiVintage, which is located in Canada.

Jantzen is still in operation today, but as far as I know all their manufacturing is now out-sourced.  They do make very nice, 1950s vintage inspired suits.

Unlike many companies that were sold and resold over the years, Jantzen has retained a large archive of material, both garments and paper items such as catalogs and advertising.  The archive. located in the 1929 administration building,  is not open to the public, but it is a nice thought knowing that the archivist can reach far back into Jantzen’s history when necessary.

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Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, Sportswear, Vintage Clothing

Catalina Sweater, 1946

The other day when I said that I enjoyed getting emails from readers who have something interesting to share, I was hoping it would inspire a few good letters.  I was not disappointed!

Sarah in California sent photos of a Catalina sweater she found.  She knew I’d like it because of the ad above, which I posted five years ago.  You see, her sweater is very similar to the one in the back of the ad, with the same pattern and the tie ends.  She says that even the fit is the same.  It’s always fun to find an ad for a vintage item, especially something like a sweater which can be pretty difficult to place a date on.

Photos courtesy of and copyright of Sarah Roussin.

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Filed under Collecting, Vintage Clothing