Thursday, August 20, 2009

Yarn on Thursday: Contemplating (briefly) the Tennis Sweater

So, before everything went all higgeldy-piggledy in August, I caught this in the local Ralph Lauren Polo window:

It's a tennis sweater, but NOT a tennis sweater. See, I know tennis sweaters. In my life, my parents had a matched set of Tennis Sweaters which they wore to - gasp! - play tennis. Even in Atlanta, in the summer. Because that was what one wore to play tennis. Example: Here's Actor Robert Taylor in 1937 (photograph by Rex Hardy, Jr.).

That, my dears, is a proper tennis sweater, properly worn, as it was since my great-granddaddy's day - and I know this, because In his blog, Properly Askew, Ralph DiGennaro has a piece on why this particular fashion statement became popular: King Edward VIII, back when he was Prince of Wales (and long, long before he became the Duke of Windsor. Google what happened if you don't already know). If you think about it, the then-Prince was one of the, if not THE, megacelebrities of his day. If he wore something, it was automatically The Done Thing, and everyone copied. Since my great-granddaddy shares a birthday with the Duke, I can make the "since his day" comment. So there. Anyway, this is what I grew up with:

And, since I was a teenager in the early 80's, I got a copy of The Official Preppy Handbook (OMG, was it really only $4.95???). I'm pretty sure I laughed myself silly reading it, since I dressed prep to school, but definitely didn't have The Attitude - and had alternate clothes stashed in my locker most days. Thankfully, my mother never figured this out - or if she did, she let me "get away" with it. (This is the same woman who made an unholy fuss about me having different colored nail polish on every nail, knowing I'd then spend an unbelievable amount of energy finding every color of nail polish I could, and hours making sure my nails were perfect. Instead of getting into a million other sorts of trouble that, you know, she might actually *care* about. Crafty, she is, like a FOX.)

Left un-shrunk so you can read some of the cover...

Tennis Sweaters are a subject to study, believe me. I'm pretty sure I had this, or something close to it:

I at least wore a skirt with mine. Or possibly Chinos.
And yes, it had shoulder pads. IT WAS THE 80's.

What this all means is that, at some point, I'm going to haul out some orange yarn and two high-contrast colors (think "navy" and "white") and make myself one hell of a tennis sweater. I'm thinking.... 2015?

Okay, it may more properly turn out to be a "football" sweater - but it will LOOK like a tennis sweater. Go Broncos!!


  1. It was my wanting a tennis sweater that started me knnitting! All the clothes fads hit here 2-5 years after the coasts, so we couldn't always find what we thought was 'in'. Everyone who had a tennis sweater either knit it or had it knit for them! I still haven't knit that tennis sweater!!!

  2. I too have a copy of The Preppy Handbook.Though I don't miss shoulder pads and hairspray, I do miss those sweaters--tennis sweaters, fair isle pullovers. I think it's time to bring them back!


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