Thursday, September 6, 2012

Jacquard Novelty Sweaters (1947)

Good morning!

While snooping around for more information on the Suse sweaters from yesterday's post, I happened across THIS 1947 article on the popularity of Jacquard-knit novelty sweaters sweeping college campuses across America. And would that it would sweep the campuses again! So I could scoop one up in the meantime. Like the Suze's appliqued sweaters, these knits look so MODERN compared to what I usually think of for forties' womenswear. A lot of these look much more like something you could find in Forever 21 than your local vintage boutique. You know you wanna look:

Once again the article mentions that the novelty aspect of the sweater will hide "the self conscious girl's" figure flaws...people in the forties' seem to be quasi-obsessed with bosominess! Or lack thereof. As said before, I think having something to break up the plain swath of knitted material would certainly help someone with a less than curvy shape...but being too curvy would certainly not be helped by knitted-into-the-fabric prints! Above, a lovely blonde gal in one of the more popular designs, which features little telephones. The caption advises us, with regard to the phone numbers shown, that "Girls stamp own number on felt, stitch it over knit number". Can you imagine running around campus with your phone number stitched all over your sweater! I don't know how you'd expect to keep the wolves at bay with a pickup line like that, but there you go. I won't hardly sign my email address/contact information to a class roster for fear of Creepy McCreepersons. But I guess they were different times...?

Here, a particularly Gloria Swanson-looking co-ed with an elephant-print sweater. Circus-themed everything is ok with me...I was put in mind of Schiaparelli's thirties' circus jacket. If I could have one thing in the whole Victoria and Albert museum, that might be it (until they start that David Bowie retrospective next March...then that would be a WHOLE different story...). Notice how the sweaters are fitted, but relatively long, and untucked from the skirt. According to my beloved inflation calculator, these sweaters, which cost $7 in 1947, would cost approximately $68. What do you think? Is that a fair price? I think I would have been hard-pressed to come up with seventy bucks in college, even for a sweater I like this much. I am the cheapness! But it keeps things interesting in terms of the "hunt".

Here are the two sweaters I liked the least, in spite of the bunny and swan motifs. They look too much like something I would have worn in early grade school. The ghost of the early 1990's rears its ugly head again! I was almost sold by the tiny carrot designs surrounding the bunnies, but I just don't know. I would prefer it to be one huge bunny right in the middle, or one huge swan.

HERE we go... a musical motif busy as a bee on this sweater, and cuuuuuute. I like that the anchor to the patten is the saxophone, though I wouldn't have minded seeing some Benny Goodman clarinet representation in the print. I wonder, idly, what color these sweaters were produced in? Did you have a choice or were they all this-background and that-pattern? Life! Why do you persist in putting the features in which I'm most interested IN BLACK AND WHITE. Classic? Yes. But less than informative when you leave out color information.

Last but not least, a girl in a "boys names" print sweater on a bike I would like to own. The names I could make out so far from the picture: Bob, Bill, Harry, Stanley, Ronnie, Gary, Tommy, Eddie, Frank, Dick, Jerry Bing. At least I think it says Bing. Look under "Stanley" about six inches from the bottom hem, towards the right. This is my second favorite, after the telephone pattern (sans my own number).

What kind of luck do you readers out there usually have in buying old cardigans or sweaters? I have two or three letterman sweaters that were no more than $4 apiece, and two beaded cardigans from Goodwill but actually from the fifties' (those dang department store lookalikes from the early 2000's, I guess when the cardigans came back in style, always try to fake me out on the rack!), but I haven't had much luck on non-nineties' novelty numbers.

Text from the article below. Did you know these sweaters have their origins in 1920's Scandinavian ski sweaters? I'm going to have to do some more research on those:

Which sweater would you like to time travel to own? Do you have any knock-out, vintage animal motif sweaters at home? Where do you stand on the sweaters-for-non-sweater-figures issue? Tell!

See you tomorrow for Photo Friday!


  1. these are incredible!!!!! I would love the boys names sweater. So great!

  2. I have a great vintage sweater from the 40s with deer heads (worn here on my blog:, a few other Scandinavian ones, and a few 50s beaded cardigans. It's very hard to find vintage sweaters with great motifs that aren't $$$$, though at least I'm making a wardrobe dent by knitting some. ;)

    1. And in all that I forgot to say: I love the ones you featured! I definitely think that reads Bing under Stanley. If only...!

  3. wow! i love the boys name sweater! and yeah, as a busty girl, i know sweaters with an all over big pattern like that are not very flattering. the pattern gets all stretched out and not cute!

  4. Not since my 80s childhood have I wanted a novelty print sweater as fiercely as I do now having seen all of the thoroughly delightful 40s examples in this post. Another item to add to the wish list for sure! :)

    ♥ Jessica

  5. My mother took a photo of some of her cousins, one of whom was wearing the Boys' Names design, but with dark text on a light background.



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