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Properties of Wool — “How Wool Saved My Life”

Stephen

We’ve talked about wool quite a bit this month. We’ve talked about wool’s propertieshistory, and even the way it has influenced our language. Wool is the fiber of civilization for so many reasons. One of the most basic is that wool is nature’s first line of defense against the elements. In the age of tech-fibers and synthetics, it’s interesting to read this testimonial from Stephen. He’s a sportsman, model, and wool apparel enthusiast who wrote to tell us exactly how wool saved his life. This is his story.

My name is Stephen and I am a 25 year old model living in New York City. I work as a captain at the Manhattan Yacht Club and hold a 100 ton Coast Guard captains license. In my free time I rock climb, cross country ski and mountain bike, all within the city limits of Manhattan. I have a great respect for wool, since I owe it my life.

Last January I was Cross Country Skiing up in New York’s Adirondack Park. It was sometime during the first polar vortex and I was home spending some time with my family. Our property is connected to one of the largest pieces of public land in the country and we had a fresh blanket of powder, so I decided to go for a solo ski out through my back woods to the lake. After making my way through a half mile of frozen swamp, passing by the beaver dams, the old fallen oaks and hitting the estuary of Dunhams Bay Brook, I was nearly to the main part of Lake George. It was cold. When I say cold, it was record cold, somewhere around negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of this, I chose to wear wool knee socks, a thick wool sweater and a wool cap layered into my clothing.

I remember the sky being as blue as I had ever seen it and the trees a crisp evergreen as I skied my way onto the main part of the lake. I had been going over water of the estuary for over an hour and assumed that the lake would be just as safe. I was about 100 feet or so from shore when I heard it. CRACK. I looked down and there was black water where white ice once held me. I knew I was going in and there was nothing to be done about it. I immediately went into shock and had no sensation of the actual temperatures that I was being submitted to. I wanted to avoid hyperventilation so I took slow and calculated breaths.

What did I need to do to survive? I attempted to pull myself out of the hole, but the ice kept breaking under my weight. I was able to slide both poles and remove one ski before my hands had lost all feeling. The ice was too thick to chop through and too thin to support me, so, with one ski on, it became clear that I would have to do a series pulling myself up and breaking through the ice to make it back to shore.

I kept my focus on breathing. I have to thank yoga for teaching me to breathe because that is likely one of the first reasons I was able to make it to shore alive. I continued pushing my way to the nearest dock and ignoring the slow break down that my body was experiencing. One push at a time, that is all that mattered. The next push. By the time I got to the dock of the summer home, the right side of my body (which still had a ski attached) was spent and numb. My left side had retained some energy because my leg was able to kick, which kept whatever warmth I had more into that side. I slung my right arm like a rope around the dock post and then the left, and using every last (and I mean every last) bit of energy that I had, pulled myself from the freezing waters.

I was not out of the woods just yet. My right leg was still stuck because of the ski attached. Instead of panicking, I took a few more breaths and calmly found a way to free my right leg from the water. I was not able to take the ski off so I ripped off the whole boot with it and ran up to the deserted summer home (Lake George is a summer colony in upstate New York so the homes are all empty and no one is around for miles). With my still-booted left foot, I desperately tried to kick down the glass door, but that door was solid. I looked around and saw another home further down the lake. This one had an old style windowpane on their green door and I was able to punch through on my first go.

The house was not winterized, so the pipes were frozen solid. No hot water. I found some lighters but my fingers were useless at this point so it would seem that I would need to find another way to warm up. Not to mention I was also bleeding now from breaking in. All over the house there were the plastic bins. I began to tear them open to look for a blanket, a quilt, anything. The last bin I opened had a quilt in it, in which I quickly wrapped myself.

My adrenaline was ebbing and I was starting to wonder about my fate.  I still didn’t have a working phone and I didn’t have a means to thoroughly warm myself. As I attempted to use my frozen fingers to light some newspaper, I saw out of the corner of my eye, a 1970s phone sitting on a stack of dusty phone books underneath a desk. I picked it up… and there was a dial tone. I found out later that the phone was not in service but lucky me, you can always call 911.

When the rescuers came to save me, I was bleeding, shivering desperately and had no feeling in most of my body. My fingers would not regain the ability to feel for 4 months. I had never been this cold in all my life and later when my friend had come to pick me up at the hospital, the doctors told me that the wool keeps you warm even when it gets wet, unlike cotton which would have been like having sheets of ice directly on your body. If I were not wearing wool socks I likely would have had frostbite in my legs and needed an amputation. If I were not wearing a wool sweater, my heart would have likely failed. Ever since learning this, I have been throwing away my cotton clothing and replacing it with wool.

If wool saved my life there is a chance it could save someone else’s too.

Stephen kept his cool and stayed calm. His survival was in part due to wool, but it was also his quick thinking, excellent physical condition, and determination to live that saved him. That, and a good old-fashioned land line. And he wants you all to know that the beanie and shirt he’s wearing in the photo above are absolutely made of wool!

Stay warm, and stay woolly.

 

More Wool Fun Facts for January

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More fun facts about wool from another one of our old Education & Testing Department pieces:

Wool History:

Wool has been an integral part of human life and culture. One of its nicknames is the fiber of civilization.

The sheep industry began in central Asia over 10,000 years ago.

Wool-spinning began in 3500 BC. The first sheep were black; white sheep were a genetic exception that became highly prized because they produce dyeable fiber. Today, black sheep are the genetic exception.

In biblical times, wool was used to collect water; a fleece was left out overnight in the desert to draw dew, to be wrung out the next morning.

Wool fiber has overlapping scales. When heat, moisture and pressure are applied, the scales interlock into an irreversible tangle, as you may have discovered if you ever accidentally washed and dried your favorite wool sweater. This is called “felting.”

Wool was probably first used in felted form as lining for helmets and armor, padding for sandals, cushions for riding horses and camels, and as durable, portable housing for nomadic peoples.

For Asian nomads, wool was so important that in the fourth century, the Chinese called their territory “the land of felt.”

Today, felt is used in felt-tip pens, industrial applications, garments and heavy-duty wool blankets.

 

The Politics of Wool:

Spain recognized the commercial value of wool, making it a capital offense to export merino sheep.

England’s first great industry was wool. In the Middle Ages, it was the natrion’s largest export resource, with every European country relying on England for wool.

Germany eventually broke England’s hold on the wool market in 1765, when a Spanish king sent 92 rams and 128 ewes to Germany. By the turn of that century, Germany was flooding England’s wool market.

The Medici family of Florence, Italy built their wealth on the wool trade. Their banking industry allowed them the financial ease to offer patronage to artists like Dante, da Vinci and Michelangelo.

Australia’s economy is based on wool and sheep. The first sheep arrived in Australia in 1788 on an English ship full of convicts.

The American Revolution was in part ignited by a stiff tariff imposed to restrict American wool trade to England.

 

Wool Language:

“Dyed in the wool” means genuine and permanent.

To “fleece him” means to swindle him.

To “pull the wool over his eyes” is to fool him.

“Shoddy” is also a wool reference. The term meant re-used wool in Civil War times, and became associated with inferior workmanship.

A “spinster” was an unmarried woman who earned her keep by spinning wool.

A “wolf in sheep’s clothing” is a predator disguised with gentleness.

A “bellwether” is the lead sheep in a flock, and is used to note a change or new direction.

 

More fun facts about the properties of wool will be coming your way this month, because January is a wonderful month for staying warm, and wool does that so well. 

Congratulations to our Ducks for a Fantastic Season.

We are so proud of our Ducks. It’s been a fantastic season. And if you are wondering, yes, we had the blanket designed and the loom threaded in yellow and green. It would have been a wonderful moment to hit that switch and run those blankets, but there’s always next season.

As you know, we are a family owned and operated concern, with that family being the Bishops. The Bishop family goes way back with University of Oregon football. In 1894, the University of Oregon’s first football team took the field. They were known as the Webfoots back then, after a group of Massachusetts fishermen who played heroic roles in the American Revolutionary War. The U of O Webfoots didn’t score a touchdown that first season, but Oregonians are tough. They came back ready to play in 1895.

Below is a team photo of the 1895 team (the ball is proudly emblazoned with that player’s upcoming year of graduation). In both photos, he is second from the right in the lower row, wearing a turtleneck and one of the less outrageous haircuts sported by the players, is young Clarence Morton Bishop. And wouldn’t you know it, he is credited with making the first touchdown in the school’s collegiate football games in 1895.

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Below is another archival item on the football career of “the first Mort” as he is referred to around here. Click for a larger view.

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And hey. GO DUCKS!

 

Pendleton Heritage Umatilla Wool — VIDEO

 

We are Pendleton Woolen Mills, and wool is what we do.  So here are some amazing wool facts for you, courtesy of us, from our trusty “Wool, A Natural” booklet, a little classroom staple for many years now.

Wool is a Miracle Fiber that Stands the Test of Time

Wool is a natural fiber, growing from the follicles of sheep. In a time of sustainability and environmental consciousness, this renewable resource remains longer-lasting and better looking than anything man-made. Even though advanced processing methods have made wool more versatile and easy care, man has not improved the miracle fiber itself. 

Wool is Naturally Resilient and Wrinkle Resistant

This is due to the ability of the fiber to spring back into shape after bending, creasing, or compression. Resilience gives wool its ability to hold a shape, resist wrinkles and withstand wear. This makes wool great for travel. It resists tearing because it’s flexible. Wool can bend back on itself 20,000 times without breaking (cotton only 3200 times before breaking/silk 1800 times/rayon only 75 times). Wool can be stretched or twisted and its cells return to their original position.

Wool is Naturally Comfortable

Wool fibers cannot be packed down. They spring back to shape keeping their open, porous nature. Wool provides the most warmth with the least weight. The air that is trapped inside (about 80% of wool fabric volume) makes wool an excellent insulator to keep the body at its normal temperature year round: warm in winter and cool in summer. Wool is the original outdoor “performance” fiber. 

Wool is Naturally Water and Stain Repellent

Wool repels light water, like a rain shower, because of the membrane on the outer scales. In very wet conditions, wool absorbs up to 30% of its own weight without feeling damp. And because of insulation ability, wool “breathes,” allowing the body’s natural moisture to pass through. The hairy surface of wool and its freedom from static make it the easiest of all fabrics to keep clean or to clean after soiling. 

Wool Maintains its Luster and Resists Fading

Wool has a permanent natural luster it never loses even after years of hard wear. It absorbs dyes until it is completely saturated so colors stay brilliant in spite of sunshine, perspiration and impurities in the atmosphere. No other fiber can be spun or woven into such a variety of weights, textures, finishes and colors. 

Wool is Naturally Flame Retardant

Unless it is in direct contact with flame, wool will extinguish itself. The denser the weave and the greater the fabric weight, the less likely it is even to char because of its smaller oxygen content. Fire departments and insurance companies recommend the use of wool blankets, rugs or coats to put out flames.

We will be bringing you more fun facts about wool this month, because January is an excellent month for keeping warm. 

 

With Good Wool to All, and to all a Good Night.

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THE PENDLETON 49’ER JACKET REDUX

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The Nouveau ’49er for Holiday 2014, in a new boucle-accented plaid. See them here and here!

The Pendleton 49’er is a perfect illustration of the adage that quality never goes out of style.

This jacket is an American classic, still going strong after more than sixty years. But where did it come from?

The answer starts with the changes for women in World War II, when American women proclaimed, “We can do it.” Rosie the Riveter’s  WWII image was used in countless posters and bond drives during WWII. A serious woman dressed for hard work with her hair in a kerchief, Rosie’s image still fixes us today, gazing out at onlookers over a flexed bicep.

She was a symbol of women stepping up to fill the need for factory workers during wartime, but she was also part of the emergence of one of Pendleton’s most enduring items of womenswear: the 49’er jacket.

Pendleton’s success with men’s shirts had happened twenty years earlier, but during WWII, men were not the only people enjoying distinctive plaids and ombres in pure virgin wool. Women began to borrow men’s work shirts for both work and warmth. It’s possible that by wearing their husband’s shirts, women kept the memories of their husbands, fiancés and brothers close, though many undoubtedly needed some serious work wear that was simply not available for women at the time. Whatever the reason, women loved Pendleton shirts.

In 1949, when market research identified an opportunity for sportswear for women, Pendleton entered the market with their first women’s line. This was a test offering of classic skirts, jackets and shirt, to test exactly how the American woman would react to a branded line of virgin wool sportswear. The positive response was resounding, but no one could have predicted the enormous success of a single garment introduced that year.

Says Linda Parker, head of Pendleton Communications, “The first women’s line in 1949 was composed of five items.  It is amazing to me that out of such a limited initial offering that the 49’er would develop such an immediate following and reputation.”  The jacket referred to both the year of its introduction, and the California Gold Rush, in a nod to Pendleton’s Western roots.

The designer was Berte Wiechmann, a young woman who came to Pendleton from Jantzen,  another iconic Portland apparel company. Miss Wiechmann sewed the original samples herself, taking styling particulars from the Pendleton men’s shirt. The 49’er jacket featured discreet tucking at the yoke, and two bias-cut patch pockets near the hem. The boxy cut showcased Pendleton’s famous plaids, and larger iridescent shell buttons softened the look.

Miss Weichmann was very particular about these buttons. She insisted on a special black shell from Australia and Tahiti, supplied by J. Carnucci & Sons, NJ.

In 1956 alone, Pendleton would use $150,000.00 worth of these buttons.

Yes. You read that correctly. One hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth of buttons alone, in 1956.

The desirability of the 49’er was immediate, despite the introductory retail price range of $14.95 to $17.95. Says Parker, “We have many testimonials of how young women saved their babysitting and strawberry-picking money in order to buy a 49’er.  Women everywhere had it on their wish list of gifts.” The first consumer was the collegiate girl, who were in the grips of a menswear inspired trend. The 49’er was perfect over a white cotton dress shirt over “trews,” narrow wool pants.

The first print ad for the 49’er ad was done by Fred Love in 1950. A college girl in a MacLamond tartan 49’er pretends to ignore the cartoonish interest of the college boy behind her, snug and stylish in her 49’er. Love continued to illustrate the ads through 1951, when famed illustrator Ted Rand took over the job of communicating the Pendleton 49’er with ads that are still iconically beautiful. He changed the focus from the teenager to the woman, and incorporated elements of the Western landscape when he could.

The 49’er’s simple, casual styling continued to be a perfect fit for the emerging suburban lifestyle of post-war America. During the post-war years, it served as one of the easiest solutions for outerwear over all the Baby Boom baby bumps. Parker explains, “I personally think that Ted Rand shares some of the kudos for making the 49’er a household name with his inspired illustrations.”

Ted Rand began illustrating Pendleton ads in 1953. His elegant women and echoes of the Western landscape moved the jacket from the campus to the suburbs, where it became the staple of a woman’s wardrobe. The popularity soared and knock-offs abounded, to the point where the company had to seek legal protection of the design. Yes, the 49’er is a patented jacket!

The earliest 49’er in the Pendleton archives is a red, yellow and chartreuse version owned by Mrs. Sarah Brourink, who sent it to our archives in the year 2000 after wearing it for 51 years. Here is a vintage example in the exact plaid.

In the years of its prime (1949-1961), over a million Pendleton 49’ers were sold to American women. And it continues to sell well now, after re-introduction in the early 2000s. Collectors still chase after the originals, and beautiful examples can be seen on elated bloggers. Our re-issues do extremely well whenever they are included in a Fall or Holiday line.  Whether in the arresting brights of a bold Buchanan tartan, or the shaded colors of a subtle ombre plaid, the silhouette is still unmistakable. Still made of 100% virgin wool woven in our USA mills, the 49’er works dressed up with a skirt and a belt, or dressed down with jeans. Like a good wool men’s shirt, it serves as a go-to second layer for the backyard or the office.

And we’ve had a little fun with our original archival jacket. We brought it out, compared the specs, and refashioned the original design. Back in 1949 the collar points were a little more dramatic, the back shirring more subtle and the length slightly shorter—all details that give our fashion icon a decidedly modern edge and make it new again.

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Fashion is fleeting, but style endures. The Pendleton 49’er is a perfect illustration of the adage that quality never goes out of style.

 

Editor’s note: This post is an update on a favorite post, just as the Nouveau ’49ers are updates to this classic jacket.

The Original Westerley: Dude, it’s finally back.

ColoradoManager&signYou may know it as The Dude’s cardigan or the Big Lebowski sweater, but we debuted the Westerley cardigan in 1974 as part of our High Grade Westernwear line.

Original History

The Westerley drew inspiration from beautiful Cowichan sweaters that are hand-knit by Pacific Northwest tribes. Our version was machine-knitted by Winona Knitting Mills of Minnesota, a two-facility company owned by the Woodworth family. Winona Mills was one of the very few USA knitting mills who offered a 2gg knit, a term meaning only two knit stitches per inch. A 2gg sweater is heavy enough to work as outerwear. As the long-time leader of our menswear division expressed it, “You could wear it in a monsoon, and you’d stay warm.”

The vintage Westerley was knit in 3gg, and it was almost as impressive as the 2gg for thickness and warmth. The Westerley was one cozy sweater. We offered it in the western, outdoor and casual lines for over ten years. Over its run of production, the zip front, ring zipper pull and shawl collar stayed the same, as did the Greek key-inspired pattern. Archival visits show that the Westerley’s color variations are surprisingly wide.

The sweater went out of production in the 1980s, but found the limelight in the early 2000s, thanks to an obscure movie that didn’t stay obscure.

The Big Lebowski

This Coen brothers film was released to low to middling success in 1998, but quietly grew into a cult favorite. No one can pinpoint the exact reason why. Was it Donny’s clueless questions? Walter’s chin-strap beard? The German nihilists? The dream sequence scored by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition?

Well, it was probably a grand confluence of all of these important factors, plus the masterful turn taken by Jeff Bridges as The Dude. He staggers in and out of trouble, wearing alternately sweats, shorts, pajama pants, a bathrobe, a purple t-shirt and a battered Westerley cardigan.

Jeff Bridges wore his own clothes for this role, and though there were two sweaters hand-knitted as back-ups, he preferred wearing his personal Pendleton Westerley.

“The Big Lebowski” continues to grow as a cultural phenomenon. It’s not a movie anymore, it’s a lifestyle. Its fans, the Achievers, have conventions and their own documentary. And as the movie’s audience has grown, so has the demand for a re-creation of The Dude’s sweater.

The First Revivals

Pendleton’s first run at reproducing the “Big Lebowski sweater” came in the Fall of 2011. The Dude Cardigan was not an exact replica. It had the weight and coloration of the original Westerley, with a slightly different knit pattern and a leather zipper pull. This homage sweater generated an enormous amount of publicity, especially because the sweater worn by Jeff Bridges in the movie was going to auction that same year. The provenance of the auction sweater came into question and it was withdrawn from auction. Pendleton’s version sold out almost immediately.

New Dude

In Fall 2013, we brought back the sweater in the original 3gg knit under the Westerley name. We went to the archives, and settled on two versions: a cream with red and black pattern, and a desert brown version with navy and gold pattern.

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We offered the Westerley in another archival coloration in charcoal and blue early in the fall of 2014.  These were all great Westerleys. They were archivally accurate, beautifully made and selling well to fans of traditional menswear. We stand behind these Westerleys!

But this was not the sweater the Achievers wanted, and the Achievers would not be denied.

The Original Westerley

Well, it’s here. We have researched the archives and studied the movie to capture the coloration as best we can for our newest version, known as The Original Westerley.

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This is 100% lambswool in 3gg knit, and it’s ready to take you through your next monsoon, or maybe to your next Lebowskifest. We’ve even restored the ring zipper pull, to which we’ve attached a small bowling pin keychain. We think it really pulls the sweater together.

The Dude abides. And so does his sweater. Come see us in our stores (see Ben, the manager of our Colorado store, above), or order online before they’re gone.

 

Jackson Sundown and the Pendleton Round-Up

Note: In honor of the Pendleton Round-Up, we’re sharing an older post about Jackson Sundown, who is one of the great riders of the American West. We’re adding new photos to make the read worth your while. Let’er Buck!

 

The Pendleton Round-up  is going on right now—an amazing rodeo adventure in Pendleton, Oregon, celebrating its 102nd year. Our designers travel there for inspiration, entertainment, and to watch our westernwear in action on rodeo competitors and fans. Oregon Public Broadcasting has a video titled “Pendleton Round-Up: The Wild West Way”  that’s well worth watching, and Cowboys & Indians magazine has some great background.

Among the historic images, you’ll see this shot:

This is Roy Bishop and Jackson Sundown posing at the Pendleton Round-Up. This image actually made the fashion blogs in 2009, when recreations of Roy Bishop’s fringed coat and Jackson Sundown’s oval-print shirt were part of Pendleton’s Centennial offering. But the story is about more than fashion history. This photo is about rodeo history.

The association of Pendleton Woolen Mills and the Round-Up goes back to the very beginning, when along with his brothers Clarence and Chauncey, Roy Bishop established the first mill at its current location in Pendleton, Oregon. The brothers combined their production and retailing expertise with an idled mill, a river, and fine fleece provided by local wool growers. Back then, PWM was a blanket company. Our first and most valued customer was the Native American, and the Bishop brothers worked hard to fill the strong demand (we still sell approximately 60% of our blankets to Native customers every year).

The Bishops were key to the conception of the first Round-Up. Rodeos are big business now, and they were big business then. It was an undertaking to get to a rodeo, especially for a working cowboy. The Round-Up needed something special to draw the crowd. It was unheard-of to include Native Americans to a Western rodeo, but Roy Bishop rode out to meet tribal leaders and invite their participation. He was politely received and quietly listened to, but he left without receiving a definite answer.

The rodeo’s starting date approached, and still he waited. On the morning before the rodeo began, Roy stepped out on the mill’s loading dock. In the distance, he had his answer when he saw the dust of the tribes as they made their way to the Indian campground. The cooperation between the Columbia Basin tribes and the Pendleton Round-up, unique among modern rodeos, continues to this day.

So what about the other person in this photo?

Jackson Sundown was born Waaya-Tonah-Toesits-Kahn in 1863 in Montana. During the Nez Perce war of 1877, he rode with Sitting Bull, retreating to Canada with the Sioux. He eventually returned to Washington, then to Idaho, then to Montana, supporting himself by working, breeding and breaking horses.

In 1912, at the age of 49, Waaya-Tonah-Toesits-Kahn began entering rodeo events in Canada and Idaho using the name Jackson Sundown. The crowds went wild when he tied his braids under his chin, lifted his sombrero and started the ride, his wooly angora chaps streaming.

He took so many prizes that other riders refused to challenge him. Stock owners pulled their animals when they saw his name on the list of possible riders, as after Jackson Sundown rode a horse, it might be so thoroughly mastered that it never bucked again.

Jackson Sundown entered the Pendleton Round-Up several times, placing but not winning. In 1915, in a controversial decision, he placed third and decided to retire from rodeo riding. But a sculptor named Alexander Phimister Proctor prevailed upon him to try one more time. In 1916, he did. Jackson Sundown came out of the gate on a horse named Angel, and the spectacular ride that followed has become legendary. The crowd went wild, and threatened to take down the grandstands board-by-board if Sundown wasn’t awarded the title he had so clearly won.

At twice the age of his competitors, the lanky six-foot tall Indian not only won the bucking championship, but the all-around title as well. He lived out his life on the Nez Perce reservation, raising horses and passing on his skills until his death in 1923. He’s been inducted into more rodeo and athletic halls-of-fame than I have space to list. He is a key character in a novel by Ken Kesey, The Last Go ‘Round.

Jackson Sundown is also featured in a terrific documentary called “American Cowboys.” This is a detailed look at the frustration of competitive riding for contestants of color. It was playing at the Tamastslikt Cultural Center just outside Pendleton, which is a fantastic place to learn about the history of the tribes of the Columbia Basin. It may or may not be part of their permanent installation, but this documentary includes footage of Sundown riding. Sadly, photographs of him riding rare; this may be the only one.

It is sad that a man who possessed such incredible skills in horsemanship isn’t memorialized while sitting a horse. But there are plenty images of Jackson Sundown that show just how much he understood the role of wardrobe in a great performance. Chaps, hat, and that aloof expression. Jackson Sundown had it all, a fact well-illustrated by this logo for the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Yes, that is Jackson Sundown.

So today, in honor of the Pendleton Round-Up, please enjoy these images of Jackson Sundown; Nez Perce warrior, compatriot of Sitting Bull, bronc rider, horse breeder, main character, documentary subject, fashion blog icon, Round-Up Champion and Inductee into the Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

And a true proponent of individual style.

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Pendleton Wool Decade Shirts for Women: Steal His Shirt

Women have been carrying on a love affair with men’s style since the 1940s.

1940s teenager in Pendleton wool shirt. We won't apologize for the cigarette, because everyone smoked in the 1940s, including doctors while they performed surgery.

Call it Boyfriend Style, call it Menswear-Inspired, call it dressing like boys or whatever you want to. Women have always loved wearing male-inspired fashion and men’s garments. Especially, it seems, men’s Pendleton wool shirts.

Photo courtesy of Rachel Comey Boots

Boyfriend style is hot right now, but it’s not new. The Pendleton 49’er grew directly from this trend. To quote our blog post on this iconic jacket:

Pendleton’s success with men’s shirts had happened twenty years earlier, but during WWII, men were not the only people enjoying distinctive plaids and ombres in pure virgin wool. Women began to borrow men’s work shirts for both work and warmth.

1940s women in Pendleton wool shirts. The fetching ax-wielder on the right looks like Mad men's Peggy Olson AKA Elizabeth Moss, doesn't she?

 It’s possible that by wearing their husband’s shirts, women kept the memories of their husbands, fiancés and brothers close, though many undoubtedly needed some serious work wear that was simply not available for women at the time. Whatever the reason, women loved Pendleton shirts.

We answered this love by introducing the Pendleton 49’er jacket in (you guessed it) 1949. (As an aside, how much does the woman on the right resemble Peggy Olson?)

Women loved the 49’er, but continued to raid men’s closets. Here are two 1950s icons of femininity, rocking their Pendletons.

Marilyn Monroe in a Pendleton wool shirt.

Jayne Mansfield in a Pendleton wool Board shirt. With chihuahuas. Cooking breakfast, because that's how all chihuahua owners cook their eggs.

These photos of Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield offer a clue as to why Boyfriend Style was so popular in the 1950s.  It was associated with relaxation, home, comfort, ease, the outdoors. It probably offered them a break from their sexpot styling, though this Life magazine series of Jayne Mansfield cooking breakfast in a Pendleton shirt still manages to radiate her kittenish allure.

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(As another aside, clearly Jayne inspired today’s selfie-pout).

The desire to steal his shirt didn’t end in the 1950s. Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall style showed up in the 1970s, creating a wave of skinny-tie-and-vest wearers. Women tucked shoulder pads under the bigger shoulders of men’s shirts and jackets and belted them tightly to create the signature silhouette of the 1980s. The 2000s brought the rise of thrifted style. Countless women reworked shrunken men’s Pendletons into their looks. And when we introduced our Fitted line, market intelligence informed us that a surprising amount of these slimmer-cut shirts were selling to women. Women still love wearing Pendleton men’s shirts.

When we decided to celebrate our Nine Decades of Pendleton Wool Shirts, we knew that women would want to celebrate this milestone, too. So we developed three Decade Shirts for women using plaids from our archives.

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Three styles, five fabrics, all available at pendleton-usa.com. The Prineville is a popover with a 3/4 placket. The Ranch Hand is based on our Men’s Canyon model, the original High Grade Westernwear shirt. The Ponderosa uses our beautiful Sir Pendleton worsted fabric, meaning there’s almost a mile of yarn in every shirt.

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To finish things nicely, because we love to do that, each shirt has a special Decade Shirt label in the placket. We wanted to give you everything you love in our Men’s shirts with Women’s more fitted shaping.

Here are the Decade Shirts for Women in action.

Photo by Lauren Field

You can see the special Decade label in the shot above. Copyright 2014, Lauren Field All rights reserved by Pendleton Woolen Mills

03930003Copyright 2014, Lauren Field All rights reserved by Pendleton Woolen Mills

photo by Blaire Russel

Copyright 2014, Blaire Russel All rights reserved by Pendleton Woolen Mills

photos by Travis Hallmark

Copyright 2014, Travis Hallmark All rights reserved by Pendleton Woolen Mills

Our Decade Shirts for women celebrate our past and inspire our future. But even so, we know from experience that you’ll continue to steal his shirt.

Macklemore: a Northwest Artist with Pendleton Wool

Macklemore is originally from Seattle, WA. Maybe that’s why his videos use Pendleton wool  letting us act as a signifier for the west and the wilderness.  We’re glad he hasn’t forgotten his Pacific Northwest roots.

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The train seats are upholstered with our Canyonlands fabric, and bring to mind the Portland Express run by AMTRAK last year. The blanket on the camel (okay, so maybe we don’t get that one, either) is one that benefits the American Indian College Fund called the Earth blanket. These are both great songs, but we’re still partial to his first big hit, which also celebrates a Portland passion; going to the thrift store. We don’t have anything in this one, but hey, don’t you love finding Pendleton when you’re thrifting?

 

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