The Westerley. It’s What He Really Wants.

Gifting the Westerley

Are you wondering what to get that special someone on your list? We have an idea for you. Our Westerley cardigan has been a hit since we introduced it in the 80s, and reintroduced it in the “aughts”. This year, we even have a new Taupe color for you.

The Pendleton Westerley Sweater in clay, red and black.

This joins our other colorways, the original tan, the charcoal grey, and the (very) popular Navy. You can see all three here: The Original Westerley

Original History

You 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.

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.

A collage of six photos of vintage Westerley cardignas in a variety of color combinations.

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 Westerley came to fame thanks to “The Big Lebowski,” as worn by Jeff Bridges as The Dude. 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.

Jeff Bridges as Jeff Lebowski, AKA "The Dude," sits at the bolwing alley bar with a white Russian in front of him.

Revivals!

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 archival version that was cream with red and black pattern, and a desert brown version with navy and gold pattern. The knit pattern on the placket of these sweaters was horizontal, so if you have a sweater with this horizontal ribbed placket, it dates from this revival.

A collage of two photos--one is an ad run by Pendleton in the 1980s that features the tan, red and black version of the Westerley. Next to it is a Pendleton promo photo of a man wearing a remake of this version, leaning against a fence.

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 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 Returns

In 2015, we went back to the archives and studied the movie to capture the coloration as best we could for the 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 restored the original stitch pattern to the placket, and attached a small bowling pin keychain. We think it really pulls the sweater together.

A man sits in a rocking chair on the porch of an oder home, holding a book and wearing a Pendleton Westerley cardigan sweater.

It’s what he really wants.

See all the Westerleys for men and women at www.pendleton-usa.com.

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