Pendleton's enduring wools

When I was a girl growing up in Northern Michigan, my family were big Pendleton people: plaid skirts for my sister and me, sturdy shirts for my brother and Dad, bright Navajo blankets on our cottage beds. But I forgot about Pendleton once I hit the city.

Now I'm back for another look. Outdoor clothing companies like Pendleton, Woolrich and Filson are getting attention from fashion writers and stylists, and my brother mentioned that he's still wearing Dad's Pendleton shirts.

I found a number of tempting items on Pendleton's site. My only gripe is that they won't ship the clothes outside the US, but I'm counting on my New York friend Jim to receive my boxes.

Some of the styles are unbearably staid, and the Western wear is best left to my family in the Oregon countryside. But a patient browse yielded some gems, and I liked the wide selection of sizes.

The Checkmate Duffle Coat, $98, provides plenty of graphic punch in a perfect transitional piece. The length means you're enlivened, not overwhelmed, by that blanket check.

A jaunty Plus
h Wool Cape, $228 with stand-up collar and bias-cut packets is functional yet cool. Single-button sides add wind protection.

Anticipating another blustery winter, I appreciated seeing fur's warmth married to the classic toggle coat, $228. I've worn some version of this coat for over 25 years, as did Yves St. Laurent. For this price, not real horn toggles, but if you want those, order from M&J Trimming.

The Toggle Coat's frosting of fox on snuggly Italian fabric (virgin wool/nylon/cashmere), comes in black only, in Misses, Petite and Plus sizes, $228.

There were some surprises, too. I would never have figured Pendleton for this washable silk Turnaround Shell, with its lower and higher neck cuts, depending on which side is worn to the front, $68 in rose, port and wild honey.

And whoa, leopard cowboy boots? Pull on your jeans and the handsewn $375 Leoparditos and say hey, handsome, let's two-step.

The '49er Jacket

One iconic item stands above the rest, and ever since I saw Julia Roberts in 2003's Mona Lisa Smile, I've been thinking of wearing one.

I fell in love all over again with the classic '49er Jacket, the essence of enduring American style with its pearl buttons, flanged shoulders, patch pockets, back yoke with gathers falling from the side, and palette of appealing plaids.

Top of post, Ultralight '49er in Royal Purple/Gray Plaid; left, Classic '49er in Autumn Chic Plaid; bottom, Classic '49er in Seattle Skyline Plaid.)

The original is a vintage store trophy; Pendleton's reissued tartans stay faithful to their retro charms. Price, $178.

They also offer an unfortunate "updated" '09er Jacket, which proves you shouldn't mess with a good thing.

I'd like one for casual days, to
wear just the way my sister and Julia did, belted over pants.

Cold-climate reader alert

Have you ever tried to find a lined pair of wool pants? You can cheat with silk long johns, but often tailoring suffers.

call the fabric in their Worsted Flannel City Trousers "absolutely exquisite, with a smooth hand and the slightest nap", and they are fully lined. Sized for Petite, Misses, Plus and Tall for $158; shown here, glacier blue, a welcome respite from the usual darks, also available.

Those of you living in warm climes should take a look at the site's summer clearance section, now 60-80% off.

This is a company rooted in its hundred-year-old tradition, still operating its Portland, Oregon mills. They never set out to be hip. Some of the items, like a handsome line of washable merino sweaters, suffer from ho-hum photos, but I can see them elevated by a scarf, a la Deja Pseu.

do produce beautiful fabrics, and their Ultraweave Circle Pleat Skirt, in an 8 oz. superstretch merino wool ($168) answers my quest for quality without designer brand tax. Add a cardi, crisp shirt or nipped jacket- here's a skirt one could wear every day.

Someone in Portland is paying attention, piquing my interest with some appealing American sportswear.


Imogen Lamport said…
I have to admit to owning fully lined wool pants - but they are bespoke made!
Deja Pseu said…
Duchesse, again you've found some lovely items!

I adore Pendleton plaids. Back in high school, you could actually buy their fabrics in fabric stores, and I made Pendleton shirts for both my father and boyfriend.

I'm *really* liking that 49'er jacket as well!
Those are all very lovely and even someone who is not a "classic dresser" could do a lot worse than combining them with more modish or quirky pieces. In all honesty, I didn't know Pendleton still existed - I often see Woolrich, but never Pendleton.

Shame on them for not shipping to Canada and overseas - such warm but well-cut woollen pieces would certainly be welcome here, and the extended size range a benefit to ladies living in countries where larger sizes, or conversely petite ones, are very hard to find (try finding petites in Netherlands where everyone is tall!)

I love the toggle coat - and that is an excellent price for such a nice blend - and it is wonderful that Pendleton makes them to fit just about everybody. In our climate a warm winter coat is a must, and most of them are simply hideous, or else very, very expensive.

That skirt is simply adorable.

Imogen, yes, a full lining in woollen trousers makes them fall better; it is not just a benefit in our frozen waste (but I never wear trousers for dressy purposes so they are lost on me). But it is almost spring in Oz and you'll be storing them soon.
dana said…
With what fabric are your wool pants lined? I have worn wool pants lined with poly on a cold day next to bare skin above the knee, and I'll never make that mistake again. It's like ice. Adding tights would equal three layers on the legs, which seems a bit redundant, unless you're planning on being outside all day.

That 49er is gorgeous for the small of bust and waist.

My grandma made herself a suit from cranberry Pendleton wool. On her way to a party, she stopped at the grocery store. The checker blurted out, You're beautiful! Grandma said she just stood with her mouth open. My grandpa smiled and said, "I've been trying to tell her that for 30 years."
Frugal Scholar said…
I've always had a soft spot for Pendleton. I owned many vintage wool shirts and jackets in my grad school days.

Last spring when I was searching for a tote bag, I came upon the site. I too noticed the great offerings.
metscan said…
I like the top one, probably due to the colors. It is paired with another shirt and I could imagine it worn with a t-shirt too.
SewingLibrarian said…
Bemberg rayon or, possibly, silk is good for lining wool pants. Silk will breathe, but I'm not sure it will wear as well as the rayon. Rayon is a man-made "natural" fiber and breathes well.
Anonymous said…
I love their lined woolen pants and many other of their fine products,plaids in particular, but I've lost my source of delivery in the US (She moved back to Canada).
crunchycon said…
I love their products...I snagged my mother's '49er jacket (which she got in the early 50s)from her closet just a few weeks before a house fire (which now makes it even more of a treasure) destroyed a lot of her vintage goodies. It's a trifle snug, so I may never wear it (just five pounds, I keep thinking), but it's as glorious as the newer '49ers. The updated version is, as you put it, unfortunate.
Duchesse said…
dana: SewingLibrarian has supplied the answer, though I've never had silk lining- Bemberg is pleasing. not poly, it's like wrapping your legs in plastic. In winter if my pants are lined, I wear knee hi opaques, if not I wear silk long johns.

Worn unbelted a small waist is not required for '49er, as I recall. I have a definite bust but given the vertical line, will try it and see. Maybe I won't look like Julia but all shapes of women have worn these.

Delightful story about your grandmother!

Lagatta and Anonymous, wonder if we could persuade them to ship clothes? They DO ship bedding to Canada- but I want that jacket.

crunchycon: What a treasure, I'd just wear it open. Lucky you!
Anonymous said…
Pendleton! Love it! My Northwest relatives brought me to the woolen mills when I was a kid. A couple of years ago when I was in Portland I bought myself a leather-trimmed Chief Joseph coat (in rose!). It hardly ever gets cold enough to wear it. My mom and her best friend sewed matching red plaid Pendleton pants together in the 50s--imagine 15-year-olds trying to match the plaids!
Anonymous said…
PS--A lot of those "jacket" wools are a bit scratchy, so be careful!
Mardel said…
I was just thinking, as I perused the new Pendleton catalog, that they had some lovely things and your post appeared. How marvelous!. I adore the Pendleton plaids and have a couple of their skirts that are mainstays of my winter wardrobe.

Shame on them for not shipping to Canada.
WendyB said…
Liking that cape!
I may well write them, as I trust your judgement on fabrics and I've been sorely disappointed at the cardboardy material I've seen so far this year. How does their sizing run?

Of course they'd have a sizing chart but some lines run very snug, others very large.

I love the toggle coat, and would also want the duffel coat if they have it in a solid. I'm short and busty so although I like that check graphically, it is not for me. I tend to like coats plain and add scarves and shawls for pattern and colour interest.
Duchesse said…
lagatta: Why not call them? My Pendletons were from a time when I was tall and very slim, and now I am tall and ample- so what you need to know I can't say confidently. Maybe they would even have a fabric swatch to send you.

Also see Gloverall Duffles at Christian Scott,

Duffle wearers unite!
Yes, I love duffels. I dress fairly casually (as in not bankerish) but not sloppy, and love beautiful woollens. They are popular in Europe too - The Guardian features them at their online shop, and they have a bit of an anglophile intello touch on the Continent.

Holt's used to have an own line that while it was never bargain-priced, was more than reasonable for the quality, and always locally-made. Now they are all boutiquey and alas I can't afford that this year.

The duffels I've seen at the Bay, at Winners etc so far have all been cardboardy crap.

Thanks for responding to this old post!
Duchesse said…
lagatta: Holt's coats were made by Lorne's, a Spadina Avenue institution where I have bought my duffles for 20+ years. Last year Lorne decided not to make a womans' model, and they tried to sell me a mens' (horrors!)so bought one from Talbot's. Nice fabric but lighter weight. Would like one of the coloured Gloveralls next.

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