Finding a vintage sweater

Now that you have your measurements, you are ready to choose vintage clothing that works well for you, and you are practically guaranteed success with a vintage sweater.

There are many styles of sweaters, from chunky knits to fitted Sweater Girl styles, cardigans, short sleeves and sleeveless, beaded, embroidered, hand knit and major vintage designer labels.

Hand knit from PenelopeMeatloaf, beaded knit tank from sabrosavintage, beaded cardigan from ticklepink, pink cashmere cardigan from LunaParkVintage. Photo on right from belle de couture on teenvogue.com.

What do you like in a modern sweater, something you could wear skiing, a simple basic or something a bit flashy? If you're looking for something warm and thick, try searching for vintage sweaters using keywords like Nordic, Irish, ski, Icelandic and cable knit. Sweater Girl sweaters are fitted, usually 1950s to 60s in vintage, and often waist length. Look for soft lambswool blends and cashmere, beads and sequins for something even dressier.

When it comes to basics, I love vintage cashmere sweaters. They beat most modern cashmere knits in the quality to price ratio by quite a lot. Cashmere is light, soft and warm, not likely to irritate the skin of any but a tiny fraction of the most sensitive wearers. It comes in a wide range of styles and colors, and it is a practical luxury.

This 70s vintage Scottish-made cashmere sweater from bigyellowtaxivintage is almost guaranteed to lower your heating bill!


Knits have various appropriate fits. If you like a Sweater Girl fitted fit, look for a sweater with a bust measure about the same as your own. Very often the hem of a sweater is ribbed, and the ribbing stretches more than would a plain stitch, as well as being sturdier. What that means is that you don't need to be afraid if a ribbed hem measures smaller than that place (waist or hip) on you.

If what you are after is a thick, chunky knit, you may want it to be larger than you at the bust. I would allow 1"-2" of ease.

Look carefully at the condition of vintage sweaters. Holes can be mended, but when just starting out with vintage, look for a sweater in excellent shape, clean and either hole-free or with just one or two tiny mended holes in inconspicuous places.

I often mention in my listings that I wash vintage sweaters in Eucalan. This is an eco-friendly wash for hand washable items, and I find it particularly great for sweaters. You do not need to rinse it out, and it contains lanolin, which is often stripped from natural fiber sweaters in washing. I believe in this product so much that I am including a sample with any washable sweater purchased from me.

Next time: More about fit, and another great vintage starter item

Comment