Today’s story comes in two parts. Part one is about an American classic that I love and the second part is is about what I hope will become an American classic. The story takes shape through a walk on our homestead. We always take photos on Wednesday, and last Wednesday was very windy and I love walking on windy days.
I have a small story for you. There is a possibility that I’ve told this before, I really can’t remember, so I am going to tell you again. My husband Michael and I met in 1970 when we were both twenty. Somewhere around Valentines Day, he gave me my first present. Most girls would get cards, flowers, or candy-right? What did I get? Michael presented me with 1 & 1/4 yards of a beautiful brown Pendleton wool tweed. He knew that’s what I really wanted. So that’s what he gave me. I wanted to make a new pair of slacks (that’s what we called them back then). When I saw this gift, I knew he “got” me. I liked good quality, which Pendleton is. I remember it took my mother a bit back. After this gift, she knew this guy wasn’t going anywhere too soon.
Pendleton’s enduring 49’er jacket is something that I especially love. I’ve had this modern model since about 2005. I remember paying $89 for it at Dillards in Kansas City (now they cost $189). I already owned three vintage models but never a new one and the green and brown plaid just blended with my life. The colors remind me of the farm in the fall and winter.
Pendleton introduced the 49’er back in 1949. After market research, they felt that American women were ready for wool sportswear and introduced a small line of five items. The line was a success but nothing came close to the response and popularity of what is now an the iconic Pendleton jacket. No one is going to tell this story better than Pendleton. The link to that article is HERE. I love vintage ads and Pentleton’s post has some gorgeous ones along with a great history of the 49’ers. The first 49’er was sewn up by the designer Berte Wiechmann, who based her design on Pendleton’s mens’ shirts. She was very particular about the buttons and would only use a black shell button from Australia and Tahiti. In 1956 alone, they used $150,000 worth of buttons for the jackets!
Another good place to go for all things Pendleton, and really all things vintage sportswear, is The Vintage Traveler. Lizzie Bramlet, also a retired teacher and collector of vintage sportswear, is very knowledgeable. She is one of my favorite bloggers in this area.
My mock turtleneck neck sweater is also an older Pendleton. Sophie in Joplin is where I picked up my flared jeans (on one of the small business Saturdays). This is one of my older berets so who knows when and from where it appeared (the same with the suede gloves). The green suede bag has been in my closet since 1993. With all those gold rings, its my version of a rucksack. I love dark suede and that is probably why I have never been able to part with it.
The 49’er has changed little since its introduction. The modern version has a narrower collar but that is about the only major change on this classic. As mentioned, I do have three vintage jackets. The one on the top left belonged to my mother-in-law. The other two I picked up about twenty years ago at the Harrisonville, MO, Trade Fair for $5 each. That was a deal!
Where is Pendleton made? Pendleton Woolen Mills is located in Portland, Oregon. It is a working mill and is open for tours. I’ve been there and if you are ever in the Portland area, I recommend it. The outlet room is a treat. Although Pendleton weaves their cloth in the US, their woolen garments are constructed in Central and South America. Non-wool garments and sweaters are made in China. That’s the global society for you.
Modern Vice-A New American Classic
Did you ever think one could still find a shoe designed and manufactured in the United States? While listening to American Fashion Podcast, I heard an interview with the creators of Modern Vice Shoes, who actually design and make their own shoes in New York City. It was exciting to check out their online site. I want to support brave creative folks like those at Modern Vice Shoes–but their designs were street-wear. I was pretty skeptical I could find a shoe that I would like.
Of course, there were a few designs that wouldn’t work for me. But I fell for The Maxine. I waited until it went on sale at the end of last summer for half price. At half price, it still was a small investment and I held off buying any other shoes until last month. Modern Vice makes shoes on order, so it does take a couple of weeks to get them.
If you are ever in New York, you can visit the factory, meet the designers, see shoes being made, and even design your own. If I ever get to New York (embarrassing: an art teacher who has never been to New York-but that is the truth), the Modern Vice show room will be on my list.
Made in USA products may never be cheap–in the short run. People have been talking about bringing production back to the USA. But this likely will come with a commitment to spend a bit more money up front to get quality in what we use and wear. A couple of posts ago, I stated my mantra: try to buy used, or make it yourself, or buy USA. This works for me even though I will always make exceptions, because what I believe in is sometimes hard to do.
I’m including a solo shot of my Maxines. They are lined in a white pearl leather that is just beautiful. This photo does not do the shoes justice. Here is the link to American Vice’s New York Store which has some good photos. I think I would save my money to have a special pair of “Handlers” made for me because it is such a classic American jean boot. That would be a once in a lifetime experience.
My Most Worn Belt
My daughter Michelle first found this niffy belt at Sophie’s in Joplin. It is perfect for wearing under sweaters because it doesn’t have a belt buckle and created a smooth look under sweaters. All three of us have this belt now (Michelle, Rachelle and I). Will that plastic buckle probably break sometime in the future? Probably, but I won’t have a problem getting another Invisi-belt. The Invisi-belt can be found on Amazon.
Well, I think that is it for today. I guess after today’s post, I am wondering if anyone else out there loves the 49’er, has one or remembers their mom or grandmother wearing one. Let me know. I would love to hear from you.
That’s all I have for today. So adieu until next time, and in the meantime
Michael gets the photo credits for the outdoor walk pics. I will take credit for the couple of still life’s that I have today.