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Posts from the ‘pendleton fashion’ Category

3 Ways to Wear Plaid, Fall’s Biggest Trend

What’s the single biggest fashion trend out there right now? PLAID. (Check out Vogue, Women’s Wear Daily, or Harper’s Bazaar if you don’t believe us.)

We at Pendleton don’t typically chase fads, but our ears perk up when it’s one we’ve been perfecting since the 1920s. Indulge us in a quick trip down memory lane, then we’ll show you three ways to style plaid for today.

Pendleton + Plaid: Some Quick History

We’re pretty obsessed with plaid, as well as its more distinguished subset, tartan. For the uninitiated, tartans are basically registered and/or historical plaids. (All tartans are plaids, but not all plaids are tartans.) Traditionally, Celts would wear the family’s tartan as a proud assertion of family identity. Scottish families even registered their family plaid with the Scottish Tartans Society. We even have our own official tartan, the Pendleton Hunting Tartan—it’s green and blue with touches of red.

We started making plaid wool shirts almost a century ago, in 1924. But things really exploded in in the ’60s, when The Beach Boys wore our Board Shirts on the cover of the album Surfer Girl. (Did you know the band was originally called The Pendletones? Yep!)

Things only took off from there. Plaid got a big boost with the ’90s grunge scene, and it’s been pretty popular ever since. Everyone from George Lucas to Gwen Stefani has been spotted in a Pendleton plaid shirt. And don’t forget Diane Keaton, Neil Young, Marilyn Monroe, Johnny Depp, Lady Gaga, Jack Kerouac and Kurt Cobain, to name a few!

Ready to try some plaid yourself? First off, there’s nothing wrong with looking like you’ve stepped out of a vintage ad…


…but it’s easy to make plaid more modern too. Here are 3 ways we love to wear the timeless pattern.

1. The Long Plaid Coat

A plaid coat says “I know what’s hip right now” with the added bonus of looking just as stylish in 10 years. It’s versatile enough to go with a worn-in tee on the weekends and your workwear during the week. Put simply, it’ll never go out of style. We love a long plaid wool coat paired with your favorite ankle boots, denim and a simple solid pullover:

How to Wear Plaid: Pendleton Plaid Coat

Shop this look

2. The Plaid Fit-and-Flare Dress

Girly, grungy or traditional? It’s all how you style it. This plaid Audrey dress is one of our bestselling pieces, likely because it’s so open to interpretation. It works just as well with heels and a blazer as it does with chunky ankle boots, a leather moto jacket and Smells Like Teen Spirit. We like it with a wide wrap belt to highlight the fit-and-flare shape:

Pendleton Plaid Audrey Dress - How to Wear

Shop this look

3. The Plaid Shirt Dress

Your most casual option of these three is a plaid wool shirt dress. It’s where weekend warmth and comfort meet style. On warmer fall days, throw it on instead of yoga pants and a sweatshirt for a look that’s just as cozy and much more fashionable. If it’s cold, layer on leggings, tall boots and a soft, thick scarf:

How to Wear a Plaid Shirtdress

Shop this look

We know the fashion industry will move on to the next trend in a heartbeat, but we’ll always have a soft spot for plaid—and fashion in general that transcends trends.

OK, your turn: How are you wearing plaid this fall? And which of these pieces is your favorite?

Gearing up for National Tartan Day!

Monday, April 6th is National Tartan Day. Some of our readers live, breathe, eat and sleep tartans. They are steeped in their clan histories. They know the difference between the ancient, dress, hunting and standard versions of their clan’s tartan. But other readers aren’t quite sure of what exactly makes a tartan a tartan. How does a tartan differ from any other plaid?

We say it best with the title of one of our most popular Pinterest boards: All tartans are plaids, but not all plaids are tartans. A tartan looks like a plaid, but it is so much more than that.  A tartan is a statement of identity. Tartans were originally regional designs, worn as “plaids,” pieces of fabric worn slung over the shoulder. Scotland’s warriors wore their plaids with pride to announce their family affiliations and political loyalties.

The Dress Act of 1746 was enacted to prohibit the wearing of the plaid, as part of colonial suppression of the Highlands: That from and after the first day of August, One thousand, seven hundred and forty-six, no man or boy within that part of Britain called Scotland, other than such as shall be employed as Officers and Soldiers in His Majesty’s Forces, shall, on any pretext whatever, wear or put on the clothes commonly called Highland clothes (that is to say) the Plaid, Philabeg, or little Kilt, Trowse, Shoulder-belts, or any part whatever of what peculiarly belongs to the Highland Garb; and that no tartan or party-coloured plaid of stuff shall be used for Great Coats or upper coats, and if any such person shall presume after the said first day of August, to wear or put on the aforesaid garment or any part of them, every such person so offending … For the first offence,shall be liable to be imprisoned for 6 months, and on the second offence, to be transported to any of His Majesty’s plantations beyond the seas, there to remain for the space of seven years.

That’s right, tartans were illegal; inflammatory and subversive.

In 1782, the Dress Act was repealed through the following proclamation: Listen Men. This is bringing before all the Sons of the Gael, the King and Parliament of Britain have forever abolished the act against the Highland Dress; which came down to the Clans from the beginning of the world to the year 1746. This must bring great joy to every Highland Heart. You are no longer bound down to the unmanly dress of the Lowlander. This is declaring to every Man, young and old, simple and gentle, that they may after this put on and wear the Truis, the Little Kilt, the Coat, and the Striped Hose, as also the Belted Plaid, without fear of the Law of the Realm or the spite of the enemies.

When the Dress Act was repealed in 1782, tartans were no longer worn as ordinary Highland dress. They were adopted as the official national dress of Scotland. Tartan grew from regional plaid to warrior garb to a badge of kinship.  These patterns are a visual illustration of the bond between personal and political freedom.

We’re not tartan experts at Pendleton, just fabric experts. When we we use these designs, we do it with respect for the history of the design we’re using. Our designers refer to rare reference books stored under archival conditions in our design department (please don’t ask to see them because they will not hold up to visitors, we have to say no). We also use modern tartans, like Canada’s Maple Leaf, and our own Pendleton Hunting Tartan, registered with the Scottish Tartan Society in 1999.

Tartans have been part of the Pendleton offering since our earliest days, beginning with our motor robes. We call them that because we originally wove them to cover the laps of motorists in the earliest days of the automobile.


We’ve been making tartan shirts, Topsters, motoring caps and robes for men since the 1920s.


Women have always been part of the Pendleton tartan action, as well.


Today, tartans have taken fashion by storm, because these patterns are timeless, we return to them.


If you’re wanting to add tartan, but you’re not sure where to start, try Blackwatch tartan, the tartan that designed to look black from a distance.

This is also known at the Government or 42nd tartan, developed to wear by the Black Watch, one of the early Highland Independent Companies. From a distance, the pattern reads black. It’s the stealth tartan. Around here, we call it Highland Camo, and though it’s one one of our perennial bestsellers, it’s a challenge to photograph for a catalog. But we do, as you cansee if you pay us a visit at We have tartan items galore for women, men, and home.

Remember, Monday is the big day.

C&I Magazine’s Spring Fashion Issue

Spring is getting here, we hope, and Cowboys & Indians is making us look fantastic in their latest Spring Fashion Issue.



 Our women’s Denim Shirt with an adorable afghan skirt!



Our Mixed Media Shell makes a perfect first layer.



Everyone loves our Frontier shirt.



Our original High Grade Westernwear wool shirt, the Canyon.


We always love to see what C&I does with Pendleton! Here’s one of our favorite shoots from a few years ago.


Apr_Cowboys&Indians_MWShirt_Spread2So go get your Spring on! It’s about time, yes?



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.


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.


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.


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.


Pendleton Signature Coats. Oh. My. Gosh.

Pendleton Signature Coats are available now at pendleton-usa, and you’re going to love them.


These stunning coats are an expanded outerwear offering in Pendleton’s classic women’s line. Traditional silhouettes have been reinterpreted with exceptional styling and craftsmanship.



PeaCoatThe function of each coat is as important as the fashion. Materials are a range of weather-repellent tech fabrics and pure Pendleton wool, including our signature Native American-inspired jacquard-woven blanket fabric.

HardingWrapDuffels, trenches, parkas and more mean that we have a coat for every lifestyle.


Plaid-woolEach style has unique details that include top-stitching, piecing, signature buttons, fur trims, quilting, pockets, even shoulder rain capes to secure and cover bag straps.



Pendleton has a long history as lifestyle brand, and outerwear has always been a strong category. Since the 1940s, we’ve made coats so durable and beautiful that some are still worn today.


Our Pendleton Signature Coats live up to our highest standards with the authenticity you expect.


These are just some of the styles available.  Go see’em!




Princess Carly in Avenue Magazine — the feature!

Since we showed you the shoot here, we thought you’d like to see Princess Carly in the finished product. The dress by Janine’s Custom Creations uses our Rock Art fabric, available here at



We’re proud to help sponsor Carly. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter as she travels throughout Europe and Canada as an ambassador for the Calgary Stampede.


Mad for Mad Men

As much as we dislike half seasons, the decision to spread Mad Men’s last episodes over two years puts off the inevitable, painful farewell to a fascinating show.

We’ve seen Pendleton on Mad Men’s men, in robes and Topsters. Peggy disguised her pregnancy under the waistband of an ever-higher Pendleton reversible skirt–or Turnabout as it was called back then.


The early seasons captured an iconically Pendleton look. The characters seemed to step right out of a Ted Rand illustration.








Time has passed in the world of Mad Men, and the characters are wearing miniskirts and bell bottoms. As always, the costumes are pitch-perfect.  And, as always, we will be watching–for just as long as we can.



Amber’s Special: a Princess Gives Back

Part of the Calgary Stampede’s Indian Princess’s year includes a “special” – a contest for the dance style she dances. The Indian Princess is responsible for supplying the prizes and judges.

Amber Big Plume’s Fancy Shawl special was held at the recent Tsuu T’ina Pow Wow.



This coat in Pendleton wool was the prize for the winner, designed and sewn by the amazing  Janine’s Custom Creations.


We have been so proud of Amber during her year as princess. It is hard to believe that her reign is coming to an end.

Miss Jagger, YSL, French VOGUE and Pendleton

We hope you remember this post about Pendleton fabrics used by YSL in a grunge-inspired collection that hit the runways this past spring.

French VOGUE’s shoot with Georgia may Jagger showcases these Pendleton plaids again.

So there you go….Umatilla wool in VOGUE, and we love it.

Georgia May Jagger in French VOGUE

Georgia May Jagger in French VOGUE


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