Friday, February 6, 2015

The Pendleton Mystery Shirt: Guide Shirt or Buckaroo Style?


Pendleton wool plaid shirts are an American classic, and as such it can be difficult to determine the age of one, when it seems like all the others. This older Pendleton shirt, while sporting a well known black and red wool plaid check, has an unusual feature that is a design style new to me. When I first saw this shirt, my well-trained daughter (by me) had found it at the Goodwill, among all of the other wool shirts on the rack. She recognized the plaid, but what caught my eye when she waved it aloft ("Eureka!") was the uniquely curved center front and hemline.

Hemlines in men's shirts are funny because they have remained mostly hidden over time, carefully tucked into pants. Pendleton shirts worn outside the pants is a style preference that came into fashion after they had earlier been designed as a tuck-in sporting shirt. So when was this shirt made? The wool has a hard finish, without loft, spongey depth or fuzziness of some wools.  It has the old label style and it is well worn.

After searching online, and not finding any mention of this hemline, I found a 1927 catalog page on the Pendleton site that shows the debut this same shirt. On the left side of the page, #572, appears worn by a man with a gun, but his version "Guide" has a 2-button cuff. This shirt has the same small breast pockets and clean fit of this shirt. In a color view of three folded shirts, the same plaid is shown for # 533 styles, and a one-button cuff as described. This is very similar to the "Buckeroo" featured on the opposite page, but in a different plaid (the Buckeroo is listed has being available in a 'tan plaid'). And finally, the garment label appears in the upper right corner of the right page, and this is the same graphic design. Here is a larger scale version of the catalog page.

So the question remains, do shirts from 1927 have this same hemline shape? When did this curved front phase out?

Below are more views of this shirt, showing how the front placket is shaped and lined. These clearly show a rather innovative method of pinching a tuck to created the front placket (rather than sewing on a separate long piece of fabric to create the button placket). These button plackets are lined, rather than faced with wool.

If you have suggestions or answers, let us know here so we can solve the mystery of when this shirt was made!


This close-up view shows how the center front lines swings wide to create a curved front overlapped edge.


The reverse side of the button plackets are lined and show the 'tucking' technique that created the placket, and also a small tuck release.


While the wool is still strong, the lined collar and label show signs of deep wear, and are becoming thread bare. This close up view also shows a twill lining that seems to show up on the very old shirts, and probably earlier than the usual 'satin' or twill versions in beige or other colors shown. I have also noticed on later shirts that chain stitching can be found on the back side of top stitching, which may be a later use than single needle top stitching.

HERE is a Buckaroo recently featured in the Pendleton Facebook page.

HERE is a catalog page featuring the Buckaroo shirt advertised as by "Levi" of Pendleton wool in 1938: Saddle and Western Gear, page 121

HERE is my Pendleton Pinterest file, I'll keep adding 'em as I find 'em!

HERE: a taxonomy poster showing the main styles in Pendleton shirts

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