A short sleeve sweater has sleeves that end between the shoulder and the elbow. Short sleeve sweaters were fashionable as part of a twinset, or short sleeve sweater worn with a cardigan of the same color, in the 1950’s and 60’s. Short sleeve sweaters today are generally loose fitting or baggy.
SWEATERS - A COLOR FOR EVERY OCCASION
Knit sweaters originally served as a functional item of clothing for fisherman and sailors who did not require colorful patterns or need to make fashion statements with their clothing. The fishermen's wives, however, used different types of stitches, patterns, and dyes to create unique pieces of clothing. Sweaters today continue to feature different patterns and dyed threads to make unique looks.
Ugly Christmas sweater
I would be remiss to discuss sweaters without devoting a large section to the grand holiday tradition of the Ugly Christmas sweater. “Jingle bell” sweaters originated in the 1950’s The knit sweaters sported snowflakes, reindeer, snowflake patterns, Christmas trees, and sometimes even a holiday skier. The sweaters faded from popularity and the 1980’s brought the hideous items to the forefront of fashion, as the decade did for so many terrible garments. Jingle bell sweaters featured the same terrible images as the 1950’s version but added all the tackiness of the 1980’s. Actual jingle bells, neon colors, candy canes, all the items of the 12 days of Christmas and much more could be seen on the sweaters. A decade after the sweaters went out of style, the sweaters came back into style in a big way with the creation of the Ugly Christmas Sweater party. The party centered around the idea of visiting your local secondhand store, purchasing the worst possible version of a Christmas sweater, and wearing it to a party with all your friends. Nothing says Christmas like a group of people in itchy, hot, and possibly dirty secondhand Christmas themed sweaters. The parties have become a staple of the holiday season and now ugly Christmas sweaters can be purchased brand new at a store and can include fun holiday movie quotes, phrases, or images from Christmas pop culture. The ugly Christmas sweater was cemented in pop culture hall of fame with Chevy Chase in the Griswold Family Christmas. And don’t forget to show your ugly sweater pride on Ugly Sweater Day - it’s always the last Friday before Christmas.
Yuppies loved the sweaters. If you were making hay back in the 80’s, and wanted be hip at your country club, then sweaters were a must. Not that cool, although at least we can look back on them today and smile. Geometric patterns, pastels and neons. Everything that shouldn’t go together did. They were bold, they were awful, they were awesome.
Legend has it that if you say striped sweaters three times Bert and Ernie will appear in front of you. The two Muppets are fashion icons for being able to rock a horizontal striped crew neck sweater (Ernie) and a v-neck over turtleneck shirt vertical striped sweater for almost 30 years. These are the two main types of striped sweaters and each wears a sweater with even stripes throughout the whole sweater. Breton striped sweaters are white with small blue horizontal stripes. The pattern is modeled after the late 1880’s French navy uniform and was popularized by Coco Chanel in the 1910’s. The classic pattern is commonly found on knit sweaters. Striped sweaters can also have wide stripes, multiple colored stripes, zebra stripes, or any combination of the aforementioned types of stripes. The classic item has been around for years and isn’t going anywhere soon.
The overlapping, crossed out diamonds pattern frequently associated with preppy school boys and golfers originated in Argyll in western Scotland. Argyle is modeled after a clan’s tartan, which is the pattern unique to each Highland clan. The pattern became and remains go-to item for anyone seeking a preppy look. The pattern can be printed in an infinite combinations of colors and is most commonly seen on crew neck sweaters and sweater vests.
The iconic sweaters from Nordic nations each have their own history and unique patterns but all share a traditional circular yoke pattern around the neckline. Norway has knitting patterns unique to different regions of the country and the patterns are sometimes combined around the collar of a sweater. The Icelandic version was created in the 1950’s and was borrowed from Greenland. The patterns are inspired by old Icelandic patterns and became a national symbol of Iceland as well as a symbol of “If you couldn’t tell by my millions of Instagram posts, I went on vacation to Iceland.” The sweaters were very popular in the United States and in other countries outside Scandinavia in the late 20th century. The sweaters were historically handmade but many companies outsource their labor and should be checked for authenticity before purchasing.
Fair Isle Pattern
Similarly to Nordic sweaters, Fair Isle sweaters feature a creative pattern around the collar. Unlike Nordic sweaters, Fair Isle sweaters continue the pattern throughout the entirety of the sweater. The sweater were created in Fair Isle, which is one of the Shetland Islands in Scotland. The style of sweater became popular during World War I thanks to the Duke of Windsor. Queen Elizabeth’s annoying uncle in The Crown who is also Colin Firth’s brother in The King’s Speech wore an argyle sweater and started a fashion trend. The traditional Fair Island sweaters were made with yarn dyed with indigo for blue, madder root for red, and amphibious bistort for yellow.
Irish sweaters, or “jumpers” as the Irish call them, are a classic off white cable knit sweater that were originally worn by fishermen in the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. The sweaters were made out of undyed sheep’s wool yarn and included 4-6 different textured patterns on both the body of the sweater and the sleeves. Each family in the Aran islands allegedly had their own unique patterns which relayed their home country/village/parish but the internet disagrees on the veracity of these tales. The sweaters gained popularity in the 1950’s, with celebrities such as Grace Kelly and Steve McQueen sporting the Irish export. Today Irish sweaters can be purchased as sweater dresses, vests, cardigans, pullovers, turtlenecks, and almost any other variety of sweater.
SWEATER POP CULTURE
Our discussion of sweaters would not be complete without mentioning their pop culture magnificence. Does anyone remember Weezer’s “Sweater Song”?!?!? We do, five minutes of musical delight. Never figured out what they were talking about with destroying the sweater by pulling the thread, but it sure was a great song. Well before we get undone we are going to finish up, thanks for bundling up and staying warm with this sensational sweater summary.